Some of you, having already received an official letter warning you about the risk for your child to repeat the school year, may have recently received a new message from the principal class teacher of your child informing you that you may submit any relevant information to enlighten the class council on the reasons why your child has had insufficient grades. As you know, the class council is the school body deciding on your child’s promotion to the next class and is composed of all the teachers in the class, with only those having taught your child being entitled to vote. The class council is in principle presided by the school’s Director or a person appointed by him. For more details see articles 17 and 18 of the General rules of the European schools.
This is the last opportunity you have to invoke circumstances that might weigh upon the class council’s decision, which could be of a medical, social, family-related or academic nature.
The General rules of the European schools limit the scope to appeal the repeat decision of a class council to procedural irregularity or recognition of new facts (see article 62 of the General Rules). An administrative appeal is possible to the Office of the Secretary-General of the European Schools and a judicial one to the Complaints Board of the European Schools. The administrative appeal is free and necessary if you intend to challenge the decision before Complaints Board, an independent judicial body composed of judges and where you can be represented by a lawyer. The costs of the procedure before the Board have to be borne by the losing party.
The case-law of the Complaints Board is very restrictive in terms of allowing appeals against repeat decisions, and the success rate of such complaints is very low. Over the 2010/2011-2015/2016 period, 237 administrative appeals were made against repeat decisions, and only 90 were successful, implying a 38% success rate. Judicial appeals before the Complaints Board are even less successful, with only 3 out of 26 appeals granted over the same period, a 11,5% success rate. These figures are taken from the « Report on school failures and repeat rates in the European Schools – 2016 », page 29.
To give a fuller picture, 41 repeat decisions were taken at EEB IV Laeken in 2015/16, out of which 3 in primary and 38 in secondary (see p. 6 of the report). S4 is the class with the most repeat cases (18), followed by S5 (8 cases) and S1 together with S3 (4 each). Broken down by linguistic section, 30 cases out of the 41 were in the French-speaking section, 4 in the Dutch-speaking section, 3 in the Anglophone section and 2 each in the Italian and German-speaking sections (see p. 11 of the report). In accordance with article 61.B.6 of the General Rules, a pupil may not repeat the same secondary school year twice.
It is very important that you raise at this stage arguments which you think could help your child avoiding a repeat decision. These arguments must be factual, should be documented and obviously related to your child’s failing academic achievements. You may want to consult article 61 of the General Rules of the European Schools (pp. 41-44), as well as article 62 (pp. 44-45). There are specific promotion guidelines for S1-S3 (article 61.C, p. 42-43) and S4-S6 (article 61.D, pp. 43-44). EEB IV Laeken also has Internal Rules of the Secundary School which contains provisions that might be of interest to you, notably in articles 11, 12, 14, 20.2, 20.3.a, 20.6, 20.7, 20.8, 20.9, 20.10 and 23 to 27.
If you wish to avail yourself of this last opportunity to argue for your child’s promotion despite some failing marks, we advise you to draft a succinct presentation of the personal circumstances of your child, attaching if possible supporting documents – for instance school reports (good school reports from earlier years), family circumstances (divorce), medical condition (health problems that affected your child’s academic performances) or social circumstances (move or harassment). You are advised to remain as factual as possible and to avoid personal attacks against teachers or unverifiable claims.
APEEE is at your disposal should need further guidance. You may contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org .