Empowering students through culture in Ivry-sur-Seine

05 July 2019

In June 2019, an IIEP-UNESCO research team carried out a mission in the French city of Ivry-sur-Seine, about ten kilometres from Paris in the Val-de-Marne. Ivry-sur-Seine is the third French city participating in the Cities and Education 2030 research programme, which IIEP launched in December 2018.

To explore the growing role of cities in education, the IIEP team conducted some 30 interviews with a wide range of actors in the local education community including those with local elected representatives, members of the city’s administrative staff, parents and students, extracurricular facilitators, and technical staff, as well as national education staff. The team discovered the city with an urban planner, visited a training centre for extracurricular activities, as well as several schools. The team also visited a school – the only one of its kind in France – that hosts an emergency accommodation centre for migrants in Ivry where teachers from the Paris school system practice emergency pedagogy with children and adolescents who have recently arrived in France. 

In Ivry-sur-Seine, a school is hosted by the emergency accomodation


In this rapidly expanding city, urban planning operations are multiplying, thus reinforcing the challenges of forward planning. The city has to anticipate population growth in order to guarantee all students a quality educational offer. The various departments and services of the city work together to anticipate as closely as possible the evolution of the city's needs, particularly in terms of school construction and sector revision, for which Ivry is responsible.

"We want the extracurricular activities and school subjects to be complementary,"

-Méhadée Bernard, an elected education representative. 

According to the Mayor of the city, Philippe Bouyssou, the transition into adulthood through critical thinking requires equipping students beyond the school level. Education is a broad field that goes beyond the boundaries of the school and in which the city has a decisive role to play. To this end, an ambitious cultural journey that extends throughout the schooling of Ivryan children lays the foundations for a personal, but also common artistic culture. Every year, all classes discover at least one play and one film in the city's partner cinema. Ivry's primary school students are very proud of their community and also have their own radio station, Radio Cartable. This educational tool allows them to gain confidence and use oral and written language in a stimulating context in front of listeners during the programme’s broadcast every Thursday. Such cultural projects rooted in Ivry's DNA also make it possible to bring together the entire school population, regardless of its origins.

In order to guarantee equal opportunities and success for all students, the city of Ivry strives to leave no learning space aside. "We want the extracurricular activities and school subjects to be complementary," says Méhadée Bernard, an elected education representative. It is therefore important to strengthen the skills of the facilitators whose role are becoming essential in providing a multidimensional and quality educational service to all children in the territory. This also led to Le Petit Robespierre, an innovative centre where facilitators can train with peers throughout their careers. This initiative is part of the city's approach to strengthen the partnership between schools and leisure centres, to upgrade the skills of facilitators and to promote the well-being of children.

Next steps


After studying the cities of Saint Quentin (Aisne), Grigny (Essonne) and Ivry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne), the IIEP team will continue its exploration in Orvault in the metropolis of Nantes (Loire-Atlantique) in September 2019. From 2020-2021 onwards, research will continue in other cities around the world to identify the major challenges of educational planning by elected local authorities, and to stimulate the sharing of experiences and strategies between cities and countries.