On 27 June 2017, Mr Marchegiano, the Secretary-General of the European Schools, convened an extraordinary meeting of the monitoring group comprised of schools directors, APEEE presidents, teachers representatives, European Commission representatives, Personnel Committee representatives as well as the Belgian “Régie des bâtiments”.
The meeting addressed long-term strategies for the management of students’ overpopulation on the basis of two key simulations.
Both simulations have been structured according to the existing locations of the four schools (BXL I Uccle, BXL II Woluwe, BXL III Ixelles and BXL IV Laeken). Neither the existing site of Berkendael nor the possibility of a fifth European school in Evere (the decision of the Belgian Council of Ministers is expected at the end of the year) have been considered.
The two simulations imply a profound reshaping of the existing enrolment policies and of the school communities composition. They underline the importance of establishing two or three upper secondary schools with a proportional reduction of offered classrooms in other institutions to primary classes and S1-S3.
Amongst the positive aspects of this approach, the following arguments have been presented by the Secretary-General:
1. More options to be offered for S4-S7 students with a significant reduction of the number of small classes
2. Continuity for large Nursery, Primary and lower Secondary levels
3. Continuity of most teachers’ secondment within the same European School
It should be highlighted that this first meeting did not aim to make any decision but to kick-off a common reflection across the board. The simulations presented in the meeting must be considered as working tool at this stage, which will be subject to an extended assessment.
Having regard to the aforesaid, APEEE directors, parents representatives as well as several other representatives present at the meeting, expressed a wide agreement on the following key issues:
1. The current simulations can’t be used as a consultation or a decision-making tool without the Berkendael sites being considered
2. An appropriate impact assessment should be conducted beforehand, which should be prepared and studied carefully while taking into account each stakeholder’s positions before any recommendations are presented to the “Board of Governors” that will take place in December 2017. The impact assessment should address, in particular, political, budgetary, organisational, infrastructure-related and pedagogical issues.
3. The next studies or documents should, amongst others, take account of (non-exhaustive list):
4. The costs balance, (less options v. more expenditure for restructuring equipment and other material conditions, for example the labs, the canteen, the physical education equipment, …)
5. The future impact of Brexit and the reasonable wishes of parents within EN sections
6. The associated logistical problems
7. The reasonable interests of L2 DE classes
8. The attractiveness of European schools for seconded teachers, especially those whose career development after secondment requires strong pre-BAC and BAC-related involvement experience
9. The possible deterioration of school environment in a large primary school
10. The capacity of primary and lower secondary schools to accommodate a huge increase of those categories of pupils in terms of playground and other facilities
11. The impact on APEEE operations, including the need for re-organisation of bus lines, canteen operations, etc.
12. The schools’ mobility plans and other geographical, transport/traffic-related parameters, before any final decision on the location of primary-feeding schools is taken.
A meeting is expected by the end September 2017 in order to analyse key arguments and to decide on the way forward. Parents’ Associations of all Brussels Schools as well as other stakeholders’ groups will be coordinating their positions and will deliver draft position papers as a basis for the final impact assessment with a view to providing long-term sustainable scenarios for the future of Brussels European Schools. The preparatory discussions will lead to a final assessment of the situation by the Board of Governors in December 2017.