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DASPA (intermediate class for new immigrant students)


Name of the teacher
Marie Giraud - Patrick Zeoli – Anna Vandersteen
Subject taught:
DASPA (intermediate class for new immigrants)


Name of the School:
Athénée Royal Léonardo Da Vinci
School Typology:
Lower Secondary School, Upper Secondary School, Vocational School
Web site:


Background and Context:
Athénée Royal Léonardo Da Vinci is located in an underprivileged area of Brussels (the Cureghem neighbourhood in Anderlecht).

The school has the status of “differentiated supervising” (the level of educational supervion it receives depends on the socio-economical level of the students). It receives extra means to improve basic learning, fight failure, foster immediate remediation, and prevent early school leaving.
Factual Description:
The project
In this school, so-called “traditional” pedagogy was quickly showing its limitations, in the sense that it tends to segment students; the school was therefore merely replicating social inequalities (Pierre Bourdieu, French sociologist). Moreover, confronted to changes in society, the school aims to train autonomous individuals and responsible citizens.

Therefore the teaching team had the idea to use the principles of active learning and to apply them with adaptations to DASPA classes (Dispositif d’Accueil et de Scolarisation des Primo-Arrivants – Strategy to welcome newly-arrived students and integrate them in the school). Thanks to this strategy, young foreigners with or without knowledge of French can be welcomed. It addresses learning, citizenship and interculturality.

Based on a certain number of observations on the one hand and on a series of pedagogical reflexions on the other, the teaching team of DASPA classes decided to implement an active learning aiming at students’ autonomy and emancipation.

The objectives
The main objective is student emancipation. The school would also like this type of learning to be more widely spread so as to change the school in depth and to contribute to a radical improvement of our society.

The actors
The teachers in DASPA class, the management team, the cleaning staff, the students.
Activities carried out:
How it works, actions carried out
To carry out this project, it is necessary to have a hold on the space and time dedicated to students. Indeed, the pedagogy implemented works on two axes: collective work, to develop cooperation and solidarity, and individual follow-up, to encourage each student to become master of their learning. Therefore, the timetable and room availability need to match those different objectives.

Some material must also be made available to students during timeslots dedicated to autonomy (books, dictionaries, encyclopaedia, games, software, exercise sheets, handbooks...).

Finally, for the project to work well, the supervisors need to fully commit: communication by emails, weekly pedagogical meetings and pedagogical work days several times per year.

Some artistic activities are proposed to the students during workshops in partnership with external associations.
• The school cooperated with “la Compagnie de l’éponge” to implement artistic workshops: after two intensive weeks, the students produced a reading and theatre performance on the topic of the sea.
• The school cooperated with “Tchi Tcha”, an association that organises the projection of films for an audience that does not speak French.

The DASPA strategy
This strategy to welcome newly-arrived students and integrate them at school is an intermediate schooling step, with a limited duration, before they go to an ordinary class.
It makes sure newly-arrived students are welcome, guided and integrated in the education system in French-speaking Belgium, and provide them school and educational supervision that is adapted to their learning profile.

DASPA was described by Inforef on the “School Safety Net” portal:
Assessment and lesson learnt:
From the teachers’ point of view, this project is truly a success. Students gain confidence, some regain a taste for school, almost all of them take initiatives, run projects, cooperate, accept difference, take responsibility for a large part of their learning and gradually build themselves to, in the end, become active citizens.

Since this project was implemented (September 2012), teachers have constantly tried to improve it from both a theoretical and practical point of view. To do so, they develop new tools and new spaces according to new learning situations that come up.

This project requires large commitment from supervising people, and a lot of collective work. To transfer it in another school, a team of determined and motivated teachers as well as support from the headteacher are necessary. It would be interesting for instance to start with a pilot class and then to increase the number of classes and teachers.
Description of the Case Study in National Language:

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.