Report of the Secretary-General of the European Schools for the year 2015

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Report of the Secretary-General to the Board of Governors of the European Schools for the year 2015

 

The objective of the report is to provide the members of the Board of Governors and all our other stakeholders with consolidated facts and figures on the European School system as a whole and to inform it about the main developments which occurred in the different areas of activity of the General Secretariat and about the situation of the schools. All suggestions as to how to improve the quality or the content of the report are welcome.

Download the PDF-version of the whole report here: SG report in English and RAPPORT SG FR en français!

 

Short introduction

The year 2015 was a very special one for the European Schools in many respects.

In the pedagogical field the secondary school curricula reform was discussed in all the forums. On the basis of the recommendations in the External Evaluation report produced by the Institute of Education, UCL (http://www.eursc.eu/getfile/2030/2), the Board of Governors endorsed the proposal to set up a ‘Pedagogical Reform’ Task Force in order to reflect on possible reform of the entire school system.

At its April meeting, the Board of Governors decided to approve the new marking scale for the secondary cycle with a view to its gradual entry into force as from the 2020 Baccalaureate session.

The Board of Governors decided to open new language sections in Brussels. In September 2016 an Estonian language section will open at Brussels IV and Latvian and Slovakian language sections will open at the Berkendael site.

From the administrative and financial perspective, the year 2015 marked a turning point. The new Financial Regulation entered into force on 1 January 2015 at the same time as the ‘GO LIVE’ of the new SAP accountancy software.

The Board of Governors gave a mandate to the Secretary-General to sign a Contribution Agreement on the financing of the Luxembourg I and Luxembourg II European Schools with the European Investment Bank, the European Investment Fund and the European Stability Mechanism. The Secretary-General is in the process of negotiating with other major stakeholders in order to set up similar types of contribution agreements in 2016.

Finally, the 2015-2016 school year will be remembered for the tragic attacks in Paris and in Brussels. Following those events, the Secretary-General requested Directors in all the European Schools to pay special attention to security measures and to raise the alert level in their schools. Thanks to the close and very professional support and guidance of the Commission’s Security Directorate, the Directors have been able to heighten security on their premises.

The students and staff   of EEB1 paid tribute to Brussels attack victims on the 8th of April.
The students and staff of EEB1 paid tribute to Brussels attack victims on the 8th of April.

The mission of our Schools has always been to provide a broad education of high quality, from nursery level to university entrance, and to offer an opportunity for pupils to stay connected with their mother tongue, whilst being educated in a multilingual and multicultural environment, to become open-minded European citizens. I am convinced that with the pedagogical reform in progress, with implementation of a competence-based assessment system and with the newly approved teaching and learning standards we can carry out our mission and meet our ambitious objectives.

The European School family is growing every year.  Next September the Berkendael School will open as an annexe to Brussels I. There is also great interest amongst many Member States in providing multilingual and multicultural education. I have been in contact with several Ministries of Education which firmly intend to open an Accredited European School in their territory in the near future. Two very different, but conceptually interesting new Accredited Schools will open next September, one in Luxembourg, the other in the Brussels Region. Both schools are still in the process of accreditation. The future of European schooling appears to be guaranteed.

 

Kari Kivinen

 

 

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Information about the security meeting concerning the European Schools in Belgium

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After the tragic attacks in Belgium, the Brussels European Schools have resumed their activities on the 4th  April.

The Secretary-General invited all the Brussels European school Directors and  parent representatives, as well as the representatives from the Commission Security Directorate’s Taskforce for Enhanced Security Measures  for a security meeting.

The HR.DS experts gave an overview of the security situation in Brussels. They confirmed, that they and the Belgian authorities are not aware of any specific threats to the European Institutions, to schools generally in Belgium or to European Schools. On the other hand they pointed out, that it is not possible to rule out that something could happen. Therefore the Belgian authorities have confirmed that the threat level is high (level 3 of 4) throughout Belgium. The yellow alert level is in place in the European Institutions, and the Secretary-General of the European Schools has requested the Belgium schools to have a raised alert level in place.

The HR.DS experts have made several security audits in the five Brussels school sites. They have issued guidance and recommendations.  The priority has been given to the four main fields:

  • Training (awareness, lock down procedures, evacuations);
  • Reinforcement of the guards;
  • Reinforcement of the physical security of the sites, and
  • Reinforcement of the perimeter fence around the school premises.

The Secretary-General has requested an amending security budget for 2016 to enhance the security of the sites based on these recommendations. The budget proposal covers the following priority needs of all the 14 schools:

  • Priority physical security installations;
  • Reinforcement of guards;
  • Security training, and
  • Security audits.

The Internal Audit Service of the Commission has launched a limited review of governance of security in the European schools in order to provide assurance in the field of security. The objective of the review is to assess whether the management of security in the European schools is adequately set up and effectively and efficiently implemented.

The parent representatives of the four schools called for greater communication regarding HR.DS security support for the European Schools.

SCHOOL LEVEL MEASURES

A heightened alert level means in practice stricter access controls and the putting in place of a wider set of security measures. There are many measures in place which are not visible and which we will not detail for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, in the yellow alert level activities within the confines of the school campus may continue as usual:

  • Strict access control is in place for all the visitors coming to the school premises (badge system for all the staff members will be completed)
  • No access or limited access of vehicles to the school premises
  • Control of deliveries to the school premises

The four Brussels Directors have agreed, that

  • Pupils are not allowed to leave the school campuses during the school day with the exception of the years 6 and 7 to whom each school will issue special arrangements subject to the approval of their parents.
  • It is possible to organise events in the school premises, only if the access information of all the participants can be controlled and verified.
  • School trips can be organized subject to a careful risk assessment. If the risks cannot be mitigated, the trip/voyage has to be canceled.

NEXT STEPS

The Secretary-General will continue the close collaboration with the Commission’s Taskforce for Enhanced Security Measures in order to strengthen security of the Schools and to improve communication, whilst acknowledging that the Directors, and not the Commission, are legally responsible for security in the European Schools.

The Board of Governors will discuss security issues in its Copenhagen meeting on the 12-14th of April. It is proposed to create a post of Security Officer for the Belgium schools. Recruitment will be launched at the end of April subject to the BoG approval. A similar type of development is proposed for the schools in Luxembourg and Germany.

In addition, the following actions are in progress:

  • DS is extending its security inspections to all European Schools. Their experts will visit Luxembourg schools this week.
  • DS will organise appropriate security training for Directors, Bursars and Prevention agents of the European Schools in June. This training will be followed by security awareness training in all the schools.
  • Each school has contact with the local police. Some activities and trainings have already been planned in collaboration with their experts.
  • A written procedure of the Amending Security 2016 Budget will be launched subject to the discussion taking place in the Commission
  • The negotiations with the Régie des Bâtiments are taking place to reinforce the perimeter fences, and
  • The Internal Audit Service will carry out its on-site inspections during spring 2016 and they will issue their draft report as soon as possible.

It was decided to organise a follow-up meeting in May.

Brussels, 4th of April,

Kari Kivinen

Secretary-General of the European schools.

 

Informations relatives à la réunion du 4 avril 2016 consacrée à la sécurité