Suppose you are going to work for a European institution. The European Central Bank, for example, or the European Commission. Then your children can go to a European school. “European schools are primarily intended for children of officials who work for the EU,” explains Ceciel.
The European Schools must ensure that children can easily continue their school careers when they move abroad with their parents. Even if they return afterwards or move on to another EU country.
From Luxembourg to Spain
The first European school was founded in 1953 in Luxembourg. Europe now has thirteen European schools. Eight of them have a Dutch-language section. “In addition to the thirteen European schools, there are more and more accredited schools,” says Ceciel. “By this we mean national schools that follow the European programme.”
In the Netherlands we have a regular European school in Bergen and an accredited European school in The Hague. Parents of these students work, for example, at the Joint Research Center (JRC) in Petten or at the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which has been located in Amsterdam since 2019.
Where to find the other European schools? In Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy and Spain. Ceciel: “The schools vary greatly in size: there are four European schools in Brussels with more than 3,500 students. The European School in Mons has between 700 and 1,000 students.”
Ceciel and Liedewij work for the Netherlands Education Abroad Foundation (NOB). This foundation is committed to the quality and availability of Dutch education worldwide. For example, through information and advocacy. In addition, the foundation is the employer of all staff seconded by the Netherlands to the European schools with a Dutch-speaking section.
“European schools offer education to pupils between the ages of four and eighteen,” says Liedewij. “Primary and secondary education are offered under one roof. Pupils graduate at VWO level and then receive a European Baccalaureate. This diploma gives them access to higher education in all EU Member States.”
What characterizes education? “It’s multilingual and multicultural,” Ceciel says. “The students as well as the teachers and other staff come from different European countries.”
Pupils are taught in their mother tongue and in at least one foreign language. This has been the case from the first year of primary education, comparable to group 3 in the Netherlands. That can be English, German or French. Or the language of the country in which the school is located. From their first year of secondary education, pupils are taught a third language.
Learning about each other’s culture and history
The curriculum is generally somewhat broader than at ‘normal’ Dutch schools. All students in secondary education receive philosophy. Much attention is also paid to sports and culture.
The ‘European hours’ are also characteristic. All primary school pupils receive this subject for 2.5 hours per week. Liedewij: “You work on European and intercultural issues together with students from other language sections.” Consider: Why is it that in some countries team sports are more popular than individual sports? Or: Can we put together a ‘constitution’ for our school? What rights, duties and responsibilities should it contain?
Friendships across borders
“Pupils therefore leave school well-educated,” says Liedewij. They also build up a large network and thorough language knowledge. “Many students really see this period as an enrichment and a privilege. They make friends from different countries and learn a lot about other cultures.”
“Communication is more important than the language they speak,” says Ceciel. “By learning, playing and growing up together, they develop into open-minded people with an international orientation. In fact, all students in Europe and beyond should be able to take advantage of these opportunities.”
Happy and relaxed atmosphere
Teachers also learn a lot from working at a European school, Liedewij knows. “A European school is Europe in miniature. In the room next to you there may be someone from Poland or Spain teaching the same age group as you. Your colleagues have different backgrounds, different experiences and are used to different teaching methods. That is instructive.”
In addition, the work is dynamic, according to teachers. The HR advisor recently received a message from a teacher who started last year at a European school. “It strikes me that children here get along so well, despite all the different backgrounds,” he wrote. “They play and read together, even if they don’t know each other’s language. There is a happy and relaxed atmosphere.”
Dare an adventure
If you want to teach at a European school as a teacher, you must have at least five years of experience in Dutch education. In addition, it is a requirement that you are enterprising and that you have seen something of the world. “You have to dare the adventure”, says Liedewij.
“And you have to be aware that this adventure only lasts nine years,” Ceciel adds. That is the maximum period of a secondment. “But”, says the administrative advisor, “you get a lot in return: an in-depth multicultural acquaintance with ‘Europe in miniature’.”
By: National Education Guide / Bente Schreurs
A European school is Europe in miniature: ‘Multilingual and multicultural’
Source link A European school is Europe in miniature: ‘Multilingual and multicultural’