18 July 2008 Excellence at ORT France Enrolments at ORT France schools are set to break the symbolic 3,000 mark this year as parents switch on to the care, professionalism and increasingly high standards on offer. A decade of steadily improving exam results including greater numbers of ORT students gaining entry to Frances elite tertiary Grandes Ecoles together with the provision of superior facilities and an expanding range of courses mean that ORT France is no longer seen as a second choice by Jewish parents. For 10 years, ORT France has increased the level of studies, said ORT France National Director Marc Timsit. The conclusion of this is that parents know that an ORT school is a school of first resort. Over the past three years, the number of high school students passing their Baccalaurea has increased by one percentage point per year giving a success rate of more than 83 per cent and Mr Timsit said he expected the results of this years exams to maintain the upward spiral. The results are, above all, a sign of our teachers dedication, Mr Timsit said. Not only are they highly skilled but they put in extra hours. This means that students benefit from extra lessons ahead of taking the Baccalaurea. ORT France currently has more than 6,700 students at its institutions in Paris, Strasbourg, Lyons, Toulouse and Marseilles, of whom approximately half are high school students. Major refurbishment works at all the schools except Marseilles have increased capacity in recent years. Its very expensive to build a school and even more expensive to enlarge one, Mr Timsit said. So we dont have any plans to expand our schools at the moment. Another reason for ORT Frances success is the increasing range of subjects it has to offer students, in particular the two-year post-secondary vocational courses that are proving popular with young business-minded people, particularly in the Jewish community. We have embarked on a strategic change in the level of our training, which responds better to the demands of our community. And we have been upgrading the technical equipment and educational facilities at our schools, Mr Timsit said. At the Montreuil high school in Paris, for example, senior students can now pursue a post-secondary course in optics, which was first introduced at ORT Strasbourg, and which qualifies graduates to open their own business. At Strasbourg, optics students can take a further year to bring their qualification up to degree-level. And a similar course, in real estate, has been introduced at ORT Marseilles, while ORT Toulouse has introduced on in banking, with more on the way. World ORT Representative in France, Guy Seniak, said: Twenty-five years ago, ORT Frances provision extended only up to matriculation level. Since then, ORT France has consistently managed to raise standards and now it is not unusual to offer post-matriculation two-year courses at college level. But the part of ORT Frances success that has caught most public attention has been the increasing number of students who undertake the gruelling preparation programme at ORT Strasbourg for a place at one of the countrys Grandes Ecoles. These are elite higher education establishments outside the main framework of the public universities system. They have traditionally produced most of Frances high ranking civil servants and engineers. Last year, 21 of ORT Strasbourgs 23 candidates successfully navigated the ultra-competitive written and oral entrance examinations. This year, all but one of its 16 candidates have passed the written exams with seven managing to do well enough for the top institutions within this elite a 94 per cent success rate. Its a very, very good result and were very happy, said Michele Benoilid, Deputy Principal at ORT Strasbourg, adding that the candidates still had to take oral exams due at the end of July and early August. A secret of ORT Strasbourgs success is the small size of its Grandes Ecoles preparatory course, Mr Benoilid said. This year we have 16 candidates but normally we have between 20 and 24, he said. This allows us to tailor the course to fit the needs of each student. The publicity stemming from ORT Strasbourgs increasing success in this field has also contributed to ORT France shedding its old image as a last chance for the struggling student. However, this does not mean that ORT Strasbourg now only accepts top calibre pupils for its high school. We accept gifted and struggling students, Mr Benoilid said. We take them all and give them all a real chance to win their Baccalaurea. We make sure that everyone will have the chance to realise their full potential. The students, who come to us from Paris, Lyon, Marseilles and even Morocco know this and motivation is very high.