“Cordées de la réussite" partnerships
The “Cordées de la réussite” (“Climbing together to success”) partnership scheme is one of the key ways in which the ParisTech schools are taking action to promote diversity and equal opportunities and give today’s young people every chance of success.
The national initiative connects French higher education institutions with secondary schools and colleges with the aim of broadening pupils’ cultural horizons and providing academic tutoring in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). In concrete terms, it helps young people develop their scientific skills and knowledge and encourages them to consider further study in the sciences.
The scheme also promotes diversity, since most of the partner schools are classified by the French government as “priority education” institutions (REP, REP+, “cité éducative”), meaning they have a high proportion of pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds. In addition, particular attention is paid to encouraging girls to participate in the programme. The initiative is therefore helping to address stereotypes and inequalities in access to higher education, whether gender-based or socio-economic. All in all, it’s an enriching and rewarding experience for everyone involved:
- The CPGE* and secondary school pupils who choose to take part have access to a range of activities specifically tailored to their needs: academic tutoring in scientific subjects, cultural activities (concerts, plays, trips to museums), tours of companies and engineering schools, sporting events, introductory sessions on scientific topics. The activities are led by current engineering students, so the structure is completely different to the pupils’ usual learning environment. This can help to break down perceived barriers and encourage the young people involved to engage with science.
- The scheme is a valuable experience for the ParisTech students who volunteer as tutors too. As well as being able to share their love of science and pass on their skills and knowledge, for some it’s also a chance to mix with people from a wider range of social and cultural backgrounds than they might otherwise have done, which challenges any preconceptions they might have and familiarises them with the diversity they will encounter when they enter the world of work.
- The ParisTech schools also benefit from the scheme because it promotes the value of STEM qualifications and careers and helps them attract candidates from a wider range of backgrounds, thus increasing diversity within their student population. What’s more, many former tutees later decide to volunteer as tutors themselves.
The ParisTech “Cordées de la réussite” partnerships in figures
Examples of actions to promote social diversity
An annual event dedicated to the “Cordées de la réussite”
Every year in January, special events dedicated to the “Cordées de la réussite” initiative are held across France. The ParisTech event is held on a Saturday morning, usually at MINES ParisTech, and brings together the ParisTech engineering schools and pupils from secondary schools and colleges, many of whom are already involved in one of the partnerships. The morning is generally split into two parts:
- A series of mini-conferences in which teaching staff present one of their teaching or research topics in an easy-to-understand way. For example, at the 2020 edition, which took place on 25th January, topics included: “Jewels in aircraft engines – the mechanics of turbine blades and disks” (MINES ParisTech), “Food science and product formulation” (AgroParisTech) and “Chemical synthesis – can we do something for the environment?” (Chimie ParisTech).
- A forum to allow pupils to find out more about graduate engineering schools, with stands run primarily by current students. Representatives of ParisTech, the Institut Villebon-Georges Charpak, and institutions offering CPGE and BTS** courses also attend. In total, eleven different institutions took part in the 2020 event.
*CGPE: “Classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles”: Two-year programme that prepares students to take the competitive entrance exams of the French Grandes Ecoles.
**BTS: “Brevet de technicien supérieur”: Two-year post-secondary vocational course