Assistance to families in case of repetition

 

Dear parents,

Some of you, having already received an official letter warning you about the risk for your child to repeat the school year, may have recently received a new message from the principal class teacher of your child informing you that you may submit any relevant information to enlighten the class council on the reasons why your child has had insufficient grades. As you know, the class council is the school body deciding on your child’s promotion to the next class and is composed of all the teachers in the class, with only those having taught your child being entitled to vote. The class council is in principle presided by the school’s Director or a person appointed by him. For more details see articles 17 and 18 of the General rules of the European schools.

This is the last opportunity you have to invoke circumstances that might weigh upon the class council’s decision, which could be of a medical, social, family-related or academic nature.

The General rules of the European schools limit the scope to appeal the repeat decision of a class council to procedural irregularity or recognition of new facts (see article 62 of the General Rules). An administrative appeal is possible to the Office of the Secretary-General of the European Schools and a judicial one to the Complaints Board of the European Schools. The administrative appeal is free and necessary if you intend to challenge the decision before Complaints Board, an independent judicial body composed of judges and where you can be represented by a lawyer. The costs of the procedure before the Board have to be borne by the losing party.

The case-law of the Complaints Board is very restrictive in terms of allowing appeals against repeat decisions, and the success rate of such complaints is very low. Over the 2010/2011-2015/2016 period, 237 administrative appeals were made against repeat decisions, and only 90 were successful, implying a 38% success rate. Judicial appeals before the Complaints Board are even less successful, with only 3 out of 26 appeals granted over the same period, a 11,5% success rate. These figures are taken from the « Report on school failures and repeat rates in the European Schools – 2016 », page 29.

To give a fuller picture, 41 repeat decisions were taken at EEB IV Laeken in 2015/16, out of which 3 in primary and 38 in secondary (see p. 6 of the report). S4 is the class with the most repeat cases (18), followed by S5 (8 cases) and S1 together with S3 (4 each). Broken down by linguistic section, 30 cases out of the 41 were in the French-speaking section, 4 in the Dutch-speaking section, 3 in the Anglophone section and 2 each in the Italian and German-speaking sections (see p. 11 of the report). In accordance with article 61.B.6 of the General Rules, a pupil may not repeat the same secondary school year twice.

It is very important that you raise at this stage arguments which you think could help your child avoiding a repeat decision. These arguments must be factual, should be documented and obviously related to your child’s failing academic achievements. You may want to consult article 61 of the General Rules of the European Schools (pp. 41-44), as well as article 62 (pp. 44-45). There are specific promotion guidelines for S1-S3 (article 61.C, p. 42-43) and S4-S6 (article 61.D, pp. 43-44). EEB IV Laeken also has Internal Rules of the Secundary School which contains provisions that might be of interest to you, notably in articles 11, 12, 14, 20.2, 20.3.a, 20.6, 20.7, 20.8, 20.9, 20.10 and 23 to 27.

If you wish to avail yourself of this last opportunity to argue for your child’s promotion despite some failing marks, we advise you to draft a succinct presentation of the personal circumstances of your child, attaching if possible supporting documents – for instance school reports (good school reports from earlier years), family circumstances (divorce), medical condition (health problems that affected your child’s academic performances) or social circumstances (move or harassment). You are advised to remain as factual as possible and to avoid personal attacks against teachers or unverifiable claims.

APEEE EEB IV is at your disposal should need further guidance. You may contact us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Monitoring group of the European schools

 

On 27 June 2017, Mr Marchegiano, the Secretary-General of the European Schools, convened an extraordinary meeting of the monitoring group comprised of schools directors, APEEE presidents, teachers representatives, European Commission representatives, Personnel Committee representatives as well as the Belgian “Régie des bâtiments”.

The meeting addressed long-term strategies for the management of students' overpopulation on the basis of two key simulations.

Both simulations have been structured according to the existing locations of the four schools (BXL I Uccle, BXL II Woluwe, BXL III Ixelles and BXL IV Laeken). Neither the existing site of Berkendael nor the possibility of a fifth European school in Evere (the decision of the Belgian Council of Ministers is expected at the end of the year) have been considered.

The two simulations imply a profound reshaping of the existing enrolment policies and of the school communities composition. They underline the importance of establishing two or three upper secondary schools with a proportional reduction of offered classrooms in other institutions to primary classes and S1-S3.

Amongst the positive aspects of this approach, the following arguments have been presented by the Secretary-General:

1. More options to be offered for S4-S7 students with a significant reduction of the number of small classes

2. Continuity for large Nursery, Primary and lower Secondary levels

3. Continuity of most teachers' secondment within the same European School

It should be highlighted that this first meeting did not aim to make any decision but to kick-off a common reflection across the board. The simulations presented in the meeting must be considered as working tool at this stage, which will be subject to an extended assessment.

Having regard to the aforesaid, APEEE directors, parents representatives as well as several other representatives present at the meeting, expressed a wide agreement on the following key issues:

1. The current simulations can’t be used as a consultation or a decision-making tool without the Berkendael sites being considered

2. An appropriate impact assessment should be conducted beforehand, which should be prepared and studied carefully while taking into account each stakeholder’s positions before any recommendations are presented to the “Board of Governors” that will take place in December 2017. The impact assessment should address, in particular, political, budgetary, organisational, infrastructure-related and pedagogical issues.

3. The next studies or documents should, amongst others, take account of (non-exhaustive list):

4. The costs balance, (less options v. more expenditure for restructuring equipment and other material conditions, for example the labs, the canteen, the physical education equipment, ...)

5. The future impact of Brexit and the reasonable wishes of parents within EN sections

6. The associated logistical problems

7. The reasonable interests of L2 DE classes

8. The attractiveness of European schools for seconded teachers, especially those whose career development after secondment requires strong pre-BAC and BAC-related involvement experience

9. The possible deterioration of school environment in a large primary school

10. The capacity of primary and lower secondary schools to accommodate a huge increase of those categories of pupils in terms of playground and other facilities

11. The impact on APEEE operations, including the need for re-organisation of bus lines, canteen operations, etc.

12. The schools’ mobility plans and other geographical, transport/traffic-related parameters, before any final decision on the location of primary-feeding schools is taken. 

A meeting is expected by the end September 2017 in order to analyse key arguments and to decide on the way forward. Parents' Associations of all Brussels Schools as well as other stakeholders' groups will be coordinating their positions and will deliver draft position papers as a basis for the final impact assessment with a view to providing long-term sustainable scenarios for the future of Brussels European Schools. The preparatory discussions will lead to a final assessment of the situation by the Board of Governors in December 2017.

You will be kept informed of any developments on a regular basis.

On behalf of the APEEE Administrative Board, I wish you and your families a very nice, well-deserved summer holiday.

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