Sample Questions and Background
These questions are purposefully concise in an effort to oblige the Secretary General (SG or KK) to answer and to pin him down. (Note: Every ten words said in a question provide him with another topic to talk about… without answering the core question. Please don’t allow him the opportunity to answer a question he was not asked! Try not to give him easy distraction.)
The aims are:
STOP this ‘run-away reform’ process
– i.e. to encourage the SG to halt or temporarily pause the Secondary reform process pending rethinks/full assessments.
SUSTAIN the system
– i.e. to encourage the SG to be more joined-up in his thinking and transparent (he keeps asking for mandates to explore = negotiate privately) in his re-designing of the financial model of the schools.
SYSTEM NEEDS FUNDING TO SUSTAIN AND DEVELOP IT
Q: Expanding the system is all very exciting so why you are threatening its future by not sustaining its core, the Type I schools?
KK will likely mention the sixty-year heritage and expansion of the system through the opening of e.g. schools in Tallinn and Bad Vilbel. We celebrate this use of a system created by officials of the EC. It raises two possible follow-up (mildly tongue-in-cheek) questions about making sure the six decades of investment evolving the curriculum is recognised and safe-guarded for the future benefit of the whole system. The Type I schools have the capacity to experiment and innovate pedagogically for the benefit of the whole system but are being reduced to survival measures on a skeleton staff:
Q: With the opening of an entirely private school (Bad Vilbel) could you tell us what the Associated Schools contribute to the European School Budget?
Q: Are they (Bad Vilbel parents) aware that the fine product they thought they were purchasing, is now changing radically and with no guarantee that it is fit for purpose?
Q: How much time and resources is the SG office spending on helping these new schools?
SECONDARY REFORM CAN’T PLUG THE FUNDING GAP!
Q: Chopping away at Secondary Studies will NEVER be sufficient to plug your gap in (European School) funding, yet it WILL devalue the schools and the Bac so why are you not sorting a sustainable financial model FIRST?
Possible follow-up questions:
Q: Are you not worried that the best case scenario of the various cost sharing models you proposed to the Board of Governors (BoG) on September 23rd, would in fact produce a further funding gap of almost 5 million euros? [see page 17 of “Cost Sharing Discussion Paper” 2013-07-D-18-en-2]
Q: Why did you not evaluate the Interparents proposal for S6 & S7 which estimated cost savings in the order of 477 000 EUR a year, and a clash between the options chosen by students of around 30% of your proposal? [see page 8 of Secondary school studies InterparentsX 2013]
Q: Why are more obvious cost-saving solutions not being considered now within this discussion? e.g. an upper school for S6 & S7, bringing together sections across Brussels could save around 3.684 million EUR a year
The shortfall in funding is enormous, yet you’re trying to use Secondary reform to plug a huge gap, while our calculations show it won’t save anything. So when are you going to produce some numbers which may show that this whole thing is credible?
WE ARE WORRIED ABOUT GOVERNANCE
Q: We’re suffering a bad case of ‘Runaway Reform.’ You haven’t even specified your financial goals for cost-cutting! So when will enough be enough?
– We see this as runaway reform BECAUSE it is prompted by years of failure to address fully the funding needs of an enlarged and increasingly complex modern system.
– The Board of Governors’ mandate to ‘reorganise‘ Secondary Studies has long been exceeded. The terminology from the office of the SG has become ‘reform.’
– If funding isn’t sorted, are we going to have more reforms? It’s unrealistic and open-ended.
Q: Can you let us know first how much has already been saved?
Q: And secondly, what is the target saving goal we are striving for. It cannot be an endless pit.
Q: In your (KK’s) own words, there have been lots of “Actions Taken” to find “economies” (source: slide 18 of KK presentation on Cost Sharing to BoG in September) including: “Done”: 20-30% salary cuts for our teachers; reform of the EB, reorganisation of secondary studies and “in process (progress!):” regrouping to increase class sizes and limiting options due to small class size… and yet we are still cutting, cutting…For how long more?
Q: We’re watching you through all the various recent debacles, including IT and safety. Why should we feel the development of the schools is safe in your hands?
It’s not been a good year – IT debacle, damning safety reports, a highly critical risk assessment in all areas in the IAS Strategic Report audit….. The eyes of all the stakeholders are on you and frankly, why should we trust you with our precious Bac?
[More info on safety see: http://www.eeb2.eu/site/node/298 and the Interparents Letter on Safety & security in All Schools]
Q: We are most intrigued to see whether the Budget Committee will have sufficient data on which to form an opinion in a week’s time. What exactly will the hastily conducted internal ‘Impact assessment’ for the Budget Committee comprise?
Q: Can we trust you to do a full impact assessment in the short time available before the budget committee at the beginning of November? This meeting needs good numbers – have you been able to produce any reliable numbers of late, even after squandering 2 million on a new IT system that didn’t work?
(We only have to look at the errors in the Bac report to get an idea of the easily checkable mistakes that can creep in. Interparents has asked for a proper and full impact assessment. Let’s get realistic and slow down the process – far too hasty when care is needed.)
CHANGING EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME?
(you need to pause and analyse, children and teachers need stability)
Q: When do you propose to review the impact of changes already made?The SG is creating an environment of constant flux which makes it nigh on impossible to evaluate clearly the impact of any one change. It is essential that lessons be learned and applied along the way.
(source: slide 18 of KK presentation on Cost Sharing to BoG in September: reform of the EB, reorganisation of secondary studies and “in process (progress!):” regrouping to increase class sizes and limiting options due to small class size)
Q: We don’t like salami-slicing! While we welcome the acknowledgement finally that the proposed S6-7 changes are not BoG-ready, why not pause on the WHOLE programme so it can be considered as a whole by the reformers, assessed FULLY and the students and their families prepared?
Q: How is it helpful to inhibit the JTC and BoG by salami-slicing the Reform Proposals rather than enabling them to consider the programme as a whole?
Q: How will families be able to make informed choices if parts of the reform are implemented before other parts are known?
Q: Because the choices available at S6-7 will affect choices made earlier, could you commit now to an impact assessment of the whole system?
Background: S1-3 and S4-5 changes have been passed (despite significant opposition) by the JTC for approval by the Budget Committee and BoG. The proposals for S6-7 have been withdrawn…for now (i.e. not on the agenda for the December BoG meeting)
RECOGNITION OF THE BAC
Q: How does this constant chopping and changing further the reputation and recognition of the Bac (which is already facing some difficulty in various MS)?
Q: How many of the MS currently validate the Bac legally?
Q: How many have so far indicated that they are willing to validate the Bac after all these changes?
Q: Is validation of the Bac a critical success factor on this project?
Background: Credibility among MS and acceptance of the Bac by universities is a real issue for these Secondary changes – countries are only just accepting it, grade equivalence tables need work in many MS, and credibility was knocked by the recent Maths Bac calculator debacle.
Note: The UK is currently the only country that validates the Bac legally (recognition by the remaining MS depending more or less on a ‘gentleman’s agreement’)
LANGUAGE AND CULTURE
Q: What are we to make of your repeated use of the during this last year of the phrase ‘opportunity to stay connected with your mother tongue?’
Q: Whatever happened to cultural identity? Language is about culture as well as finding a vehicular channel for communicating.
Background: The first objective of the European Schools from the SG’s own website is “to give pupils confidence in their own cultural identity – the bedrock for their development as European citizens.”
2012: Bad-Villbel inauguration speech
2013: ‘Welcome back’ message to all schools