In February, INTERPARENTS delegates from all fourteen European Schools were warmly welcomed at Woluwe school to prepare for the Joint Teaching Committee (JTC) meeting which concluded the evening that school broke up for ‘Carnaval’. It was also the occasion of our Annual General Meeting, at which a new Vice President was elected: Helen Valentine of Luxembourg I, taking over from Stéphane who had reached the end of his mandate. Representing Laeken, Sarah was joined by Horst, taking over from Iseult who has contributed so much to INTERPARENTS over the last two years and continues to support, away from the ‘front line.’ As part of our INTERPARENTS annual review, we took some time during our two-day meeting to share experiences (lost teaching hours emerged as one shared concern), also to discuss needs and ways of operating in the current political environment – on this we concluded that we must reach out even more through parents in our schools in order to increase our effectiveness. (Please get in touch if you think you can help in this regard! – email@example.com)
Notable were the updated security controls for access to the school campus (security being a hot discussion topic which will be followed up in the next few weeks) and the fact that our visit occurred during ‘Wish Week’ in the canteen. This happy coincidence enabled us to sample the delights of the cheeseburgers chosen by online poll of the children as one of their top five favourite dishes. On the menu of the JTC were the usual smörgåsbord of items: updates on management of the Baccalaureate, reports (on school inspections, on failure/repeat rates and from Working Groups), proposed amendments to pedagogical rules & standards (including a promise given to monitor and address teething problems with the new Primary Assessment tool), dossiers of conformity from prospective accredited schools and several new syllabi to approve (look out for Geography starting with S4 in September, L2, Romanian for P3-4 and Physical Education in the Primary cycle.)
INTERPARENTS had asked for the JTC to be provided with progress updates on two items approved by the Board of Governors in December. We duly got the requested list of recommendations made by recent presidents of the Baccalaureate, annotated to show follow-up on each recommendation to-date, if any. As also requested, the Secretary General gave an undertaking to introduce a proposal this cycle for an enhanced, longer term contract for full-time, locally hired teachers, in recognition finally that the cost-sharing mechanism is never going to make up the growing shortfall in teachers. This is potentially encouraging, especially for our school which is so heavily reliant on locally hired teachers. Let’s see what is proposed and what the Budgetary Committee makes of it when discussed this month.
INTERPARENTS (represented by four delegates including the President, Sarah) spoke up on a number of issues including safeguarding the budget for intensive learning support, highlighting the number of still unresolved issues on the proposed new marking scheme in Secondary (urging careful implementation without rushing), and follow-up/lessons to be learned from the wide discrepancy in failures and repeat rates recorded between schools and between sections. (We noted that differentiating in the future between language of instruction could also be informative.) For our growing school, only now having pupils in Upper Secondary for the first time, these rates of ‘failure’ and repeating of years must be closely monitored and our pedagogical group in Laeken is doing just that.
The main focus of the JTC however was a presentation by two members of the team from the Institute of Education (IOE) conducting the evaluation of proposals to reorganise Secondary Studies S4-7, followed by a Question & Answer session. Their recently delivered ‘Interim Report’ seems already to be moving beyond both the status quo and the proposal for reorganisation, with a recommendation to define the curricular foundation of Secondary Studies from the eight key competences underlying European School educational programme, yet the IOE team emphasised that the evaluation is a work-in-progress with the threads only being drawn together with their final report in June. INTERPARENTS will be following up with the IOE in the coming weeks and will relay detailed parent remarks and concerns at that time. Within our school, these are being collated by the pedagogical affairs team of the APEEE (which includes reps of section and INTERPARENTS.)
If you would like to help with the work of INTERPARENTS for the benefit of the children of our school, please get in touch. Whether you are an educationalist, well-connected politically, knowledgeable about security matters or just generally good at scrutinising documents… write to firstname.lastname@example.org