Interparents July 2015 Bulletin

A new marking scale for Secondary, Support for Support Coordinators… and other news from the April 2015 Meeting of the Board of Governors

The Spring meeting of the Board of Governors, or BoG, (Prague, April 15-17) has seen decisions taken in a number of key areas of interest to parents in Brussels IV and across the European School Ssystem.   These included creating a second ‘appeal’ stage within the existing Complaints Process, facilitating the coordination of Educational Support and moving forward on the long-standing project to introduce a new marking scale in Secondary.  The approval of a new marking system has been particularly controversial and will require close follow-up (see below.)

New Working Groups (WGs) were created on IT strategy and translation of key documents into languages of the EU.  A further WG, devoted to exploring some issues related to the future of the school system, will come back for final BoG approval of its mandate in December.  The voice of parents will be heard in all 3 of these WGs through INTERPARENTS (IP) representing its member Parent Associations.

In the presentation of annual reports, progress through 2014 was evident in a number of areas which are critical to the good functioning of the schools (e.g. on use of IT, overhaul of the schools’ financial processes and reviewing the schools’ legal framework) although there was a call to “enhance momentum” on addressing the remaining recommendations of the last Internal Audit.  It was reported that pupil numbers continue to rise and ‘cost per pupil’ continues to decline in these financially constrained times.  There was no good news to report on negotiations over additional external sources of funding.

Notable was the exceptionally large number of major issues covered only orally because of a lack of progress or conclusion at this time.  These included: ensuring adequate and sustainable staffing by teachers – a major issue still for our school of Brussels IV, school infrastructure, funding/cost-sharing and changes to Secondary Studies, (including the recent implementation of changes to S1-3 and the ongoing external evaluation of proposals to reorganise the programme for S4-7.)  Several of these topics are expected to come to the BoG for decision at its December meeting, which already looks like it will have a full agenda.

IP contributed perspectives on many issues, as agreed in our two-day preparatory meeting at the Munich European School and based on the feedback of our member Parent Associations.  Following our requests, a report has now been produced on the 2014 Chemistry Baccalaureate paper, mainly dealing with the concrete follow-up action planned for external ‘university observation’ of the exam this year. On other topics, there is now a considerable amount of follow-up to do (by a variety of stakeholders including IP and our member associations) before the Autumn cycle of committee meetings.

A particular focus will be determining the next steps on working out the details of the new marking system.  IP opposed approval of the latest document brought to the BoG on the basis that it had not been presented to the JTC for review nor even the Working Group and some important aspects of the proposal still need further work.  Nevertheless, the board approved it (in recognition that the current system is flawed and does not serve all pupils well when they leave school) with promises that the WG will continue to work, enabling details will be fine-tuned, and there will some flexibility on the timeline if needed.  For more detailed information see here.

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