December sees the return of the Board of Governors to Brussels. The agenda is dominated by decisions on how best to accommodate the burgeoning pupil population in the city who need a European School education this coming September. Will Belgium grant much needed extended use of the Berkendael site? If so, which sections should be opened there and what will this mean for enrolment policy 2015 and alleviating school overcrowding? This topic has already generated hot debate among parents, especially those for whom language sections might be generated. INTERPARENTS will be arguing for more detailed projections and scenario-planning to facilitate informed decision-making and better parent uptake of places. In particular Brussels IV has emphasised the importance of learning the lessons of how our school was opened.
Parents in Brussels might mistakenly believe that provision of sufficient school infrastructure by host countries to meet demand for places is just a Brussels topic. The meeting will open however with a status update on the Frankfurt European School (ESF) which is currently trying to scale up in response to the huge demand for places caused by recruitment to the ECB and EIOPA. To see for ourselves the problems bring encountered by the school community at the ESF, we held our INTERPARENTS preparatory meeting in Frankfurt. While we were there, it was interesting to see how their canteen and cafeteria operate, with children swiping personal smart cards on entry to register for meals. We also used our visit to meet with the ECB and urge speedy resolution of the current inter-institutional impasse over the schools’ budget for 2015.
Other topics of interest to us in Brussels IV for discussion by the Board of Governors include the annual announcement of ‘new and discontinued seconded posts’ accompanied by a communication from the Secretary General about how the first year of cost-sharing will operate. Will the Member States currently under-seconding teachers send ‘non-native’ teachers for sections with unfilled posts or will they instead contribute equivalent funds to help pay for teachers to fill high-demand and difficult-to-fill posts? We will be watching the Member States very closely, given Brussels IV’s comparatively very small number of seconded teachers. This is a key point highlighted in the Whole School Inspection of Brussels IV, conducted back in Spring, the recommendations of which will be publicly available after approval by the Board of Governors.
INTERPARENTS postcard from Frankfurt: clockwise from top: inspecting the temporary ‘container’ classrooms, student pop-art display, Secondary canteen and cafeteria, unfinished classrooms, Students’ African animal masks displayed in the library