The APEEE also represents our interests in INTERPARENTS. This month we bring you a report about the meetings and discussions that took place at the April 2016 Board of Governors in Copenhagen.
The choral welcome from the highly accomplished chamber choir of the Sankt Anne school, co-located with the Accredited European School of Copenhagen.
For our preparatory meeting for the Board of Governors this April, INTERPARENTS was hosted by Culham School, firstly in Oxford (in the historic Pembroke College of Oxford University) and then at Culham School itself, where we were able also to see how the Europa Accredited School is developing on the same site and preparing to follow on as the Culham European School completes its ‘phasing out’ by August 2017. Laeken APEEE members, Sarah and Ulrike represented our Brussels IV parent community.
In the spring meeting of the Board of Governors (this time in Copenhagen, hosted by the Danish Presidency), INTERPARENTS was represented by the President (Sarah – re-elected in February for a second term) and the Vice-President, Helen from Luxembourg I. From a Laeken perspective, the key themes of the meeting were:
– Security: The system is in catch-up mode adjusting to the new security environment; the message was that money will be made available this year through a supplementary budget (currently going through the Commission’s approval process) but we will need to think about how security is funded in future years. Requests will be made through each school’s Admin board within the overall school budget. A new security post for the Brussels schools was approved and pre-existing safety issues will be dealt with at a school level. See also item on Security in this newsletter*.
– Governance (particularly financial) with continued follow-up on the Auditor’s long list of recommendations: The Commission informed the board that the European Parliament has called on the budgetary authority to put into reserve some of the budget aimed at the 2017 budgetary procedure pending evidence of progress on the auditor’s recommendations. There is a strategy in favour of centralisation of functions where possible and this is clearly causing strain centrally and locally as the recommendations of the Auditors are being addressed.
– Staffing: The Secretary General conceded finally that there is a large structural deficit in supplying the EN teachers required by the system which the ‘Cost-Sharing Agreement’ will not resolve. The board did not (yet?) approve the option for Member States to re-second teachers after their nine years of secondment. However, a new statute for locally hired teachers was finally approved (after much discussion and through Written Procedure). On behalf of parents, INTERPARENTS recognised that the contract fell short of what is needed, e.g. to be sufficiently commercially competitive, but nevertheless represented an important step forward which could be implemented for the coming academic year and which would be closely followed through an ongoing working group involving representatives of the locally hired teachers. Hopefully this will make a big difference in the recruitment and retention of teachers for Laeken this year. The outstanding question to resolve is how inspection of those teachers will be managed in practice.
– Brussels School Population: An amending budget to cover the Berkendael ‘annex’ was approved, as was the controversial request from Belgium to negotiate Category II places for children of its Foreign Ministry staff. The board approved the ‘General Interest’ file for possible accreditation of a school opening in the Brussels-Capital Region to meet demand for plurilingual education, funded by the financial contributions of parents. In answer to questions from INTERPARENTS based on conflicting media reports, the European Commission confirmed that it did not subsidise places in Accredited Schools and had not been asked to do so in this case.
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See below for photos of our delegates en route to the meetings in Copenhagen, INTERPARENTS meeting in the Chapel of Culham School