Early School Leavers aged 16-21 who left school for at least 3 months or more. Students are volunteers and have to pass an application process (written motivation letter and interview with PIL staff). Only motivated students with a specific idea/project in mind are selected. In 2012, out of 180 applications/year, about 110 were selected. 


Type of policy/initiative



Level of implementation / Scope

Local (Paris)

Stage of implementation

Ongoing. Created in 2001.

Aims of policy/initiative

The PIL aims at offering VET opportunities and general courses to early leavers between 16 and 21 years of age, combined with thorough individualised support.

The PIL is a ‘one year only’ school – i.e. students do not obtain a qualification during the year. It doesn’t aim to qualify students, it aims to give early leavers the desire to learn again.

Features and types of activities implemented

The PIL is a learning centre gathering five different compensation structures:

  • One compensation structure focusing on the reintegration of students into formal education and training is the concept of ‘flipped classroom’ (classe inversée); this pedagogical method focuses more on discussion in the classroom and less on lecturing.
  • A second compensation structure focusing on sustainable development and global solidarity (Lycée de la Solidarité Internationale - LSI). Students develop VET skills in the field of green energy and engage in volunteering activities.
  • A third compensation structure focusing on the acquisition of VET skills in different fields (Lycée des Futurs - LDF) and aiming at preparing an interactive exhibition on themes related to the environment and sustainable development.
  • A fourth compensation structure focusing on sports-related careers. Via sport, students develop school-related skills and can regain interest in school (sport and English; sport and history, science and sport, etc.);
  • A fifth compensation structure offering learning opportunities to young people who have serious psychological problems and are treated in medical institutions (Lycée au Long Cours).

These five second chance structures were designed by teachers themselves.

The pedagogical approach of the LSI and the LDF is based on learning by doing. The PIL has no director. It is jointly led by all teachers (13.5 Full Time Equivalent - FTE teachers) and two educators.

This fiche focuses on the structures offering VET: the LSI and the LDF.


The PIL is publicly funded. It terms of human resources, 13.5 FTE teachers + 2 educators are financed at ministerial level.

The region (Île-de-France) finances 70% of the PIL and the Paris educational authority (Académie de Paris) finances 30%.

Evaluation of the measure

No evaluation has been conducted, however the PIL collects data internally and the Ministry of Education published a good practices report.

Evidence of effectiveness of the measure

Monitoring data about the PIL shows that after being at the PIL, 75% of students find a pathway (e.g. further education and training, employment).

One year after leaving the PIL, 68% of students follow a course of their choice.

Success factors

The following success factors are based on the testimonies of participants in the measure interviewed for the Cedefop study:

  1. Total pedagogical autonomy: the initiative was designed by teachers themselves and the pedagogical autonomy was maintained by education authorities. There are no central level pedagogical procedures to follow. In addition, the PIL can select its teachers, unlike regular schools in France.
  2. Thorough individualised guidance: the individual guidance provided throughout the year to each student is key to guaranteeing the success of the initiative. Individualised guidance is provided by tutors to help students define their career project and to monitor their progress in concretising their career project. 
  3. Learning by doing and individualised pedagogical approach: learning by doing is the central pedagogy of the PIL and key for reconciling early leavers with learning. In addition, as students have different levels/backgrounds, the teaching is adapted to each student.
  4. Partnerships: the PIL has developed various partnerships with local authorities and NGOs in order to offer new opportunities (e.g. volunteering, presenting projects in primary schools in the neighbourhood) and foster non-formal learning as well as self-esteem.
  5. Teachers are tutors/tutors are teachers: at the PIL, each teacher is also a tutor/guidance counsellor – a reference person from whom young people can seek advice on any issue/subject. Tutors monitor the students’ career projects and also maintain the link between the PIL and the family or future school/training institute. This provides for a holistic pedagogical approach whereby the student is considered as a whole, taking into account external issues/experiences taking place outside the scholastic context. It also generates a sense of belonging among PIL students and a feeling that someone inside an education institution is concerned about their lives and future – something that may have been lacking at previous institutions.
  6. Truancy is not sanctioned: truancy is dealt with in a positive manner – i.e. by trying to understand the reasons behind absences and giving students a sense of responsibility. As a consequence, pupils feel they are treated as responsible young adults and that their teachers care about them.
  7. Volunteering activities: the various volunteering opportunities give students the chance to develop their autonomy and feel that they are useful to the society, which is an important point for early leavers often portrayed as failures.
  8. The agora space: teachers and students share a common space/kitchen (there is no specific teachers’ office) which enhances the sense of belonging/feeling of being at home.

Contact details for further information

Contact name
Nicolas Noilhan
Contact telephone
+33 01 45 88 95 73