European Schools

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European School
École Européenne
Schola Europaea
European School logo.png
Office of the Secretary-General of the European Schools, rue de la Science 23
Brussels, B-1040
Type Private-authority schools, recognised as public bodies, established by international treaty
  • 4 October 1953, Luxembourg by employees of the ECSC (initial establishment)
  • 22 February 1960 (entry into force of international legal basis, signed in 1957 by the "Inner Six" countries)
Category Nursery, Primary and Secondary Education
Board of Governors
Gender Mixed
Enrolment 26,691[1] (2016-2017)
Accreditation European Baccalaureate
Main Regulatory Text 1994 Convention Defining the Statute of the European Schools
European Schools
Former European Schools Culham United Kingdom

The European Schools (Latin: Schola Europaea) is a network of private-authority schools, which emphasise a multilingual and multicultural pedagogical approach to the teaching of nursery, primary and secondary students, leading to the European Baccalaureate as their secondary leaving qualification.

The first European School, founded in Luxembourg, in 1953, had the objective of providing an education to the children of employees of the institutions of the European Coal and Steel Community- a forerunner of today's European Union. Originally, a private initiative of employees of the ECSC, the concept attracted the attention of EU founding father, Jean Monnet as capturing the spirit of the post-war effort to reconcile and integrate Europe.

As of 2017, there are thirteen European Schools located in six EU member states in close proximity to European institutions[2]. Nonetheless, the Schools are neither EU bodies, nor under the full jurisdiction of the individual member states of the European Union[3]. They are instead administered and financed through the international organisation "The European Schools", established by means of an intergovernmental treaty, the 1957 Statute of the European School, since repealed and replaced by the 1994 Convention Defining the Statute of the European Schools. All EU member states, as well as the EU itself, and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) are party to this agreement. The Schools are legally recognised in all participating jurisdictions as public bodies.

Since 2005, upon a recommendation of the European Parliament, the title of an "Accredited European School" has been available for schools under national jurisdiction, which have been approved, by the Board of Governors of the European Schools, to offer the European Schools' curriculum and the European Baccalaureate[4]. As of 2017, there are thirteen Accredited European Schools located in eleven EU countries.[5]


Foundation: An intergovernmental enterprise[edit]

Following the establishment of the institutions of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in Luxembourg, in 1952,[6] it became apparent that it was necessary to provide an education to the children of the officials of those institutions in their mother tongues. The lack of such provisions posed challenges in building an administration that reflected the diverse makeup of the ECSC's six founding member states, discouraging potential employees who heralded from outside the jurisdiction in which the institutions were based from relocating with their families[7]. In 1953, employees of the ECSC established an association, financed by the High Authority of the ECSC, for the purpose of founding a school in Luxembourg providing nursery and primary education to the children of the institutions' officials. The school begun to operate on 4 October 1953, with teachers recruited and paid by the association.

However, by the spring of 1954, it was apparent that the solution was inadequate, with the school unable to provide a secondary education to its enrolees. The President of the High Authority of the ECSC, Jean Monnet, invited representatives of the education ministers of the six founding member states of the ECSC to Luxembourg for discussions on a school with intergovernmental status. The member state representatives transformed themselves into a Board of Governors, who would oversee the establishment of a such a school. It was agreed that teaching staff would be seconded from the member states, who would continue to pay their salary, and that salaries would be harmonised by means of an additional supplement. On 12 October 1954, the first two years of the secondary school began to operate.

On 12 April 1957, the governments of the six ECSC member states signed, and later subsequently ratified, the Statute of the European School, which took the form of an international treaty. Under Article 6 of the Statute, the European School was to have the status of a public institution in the law of each of the contracting parties and was to have legal personality to the extent requisite for the attainment of its objectives. The organs of the school were to be a Board of Governors, which would have executive authority over the School, a Boards of Inspectors, an Administrative Board and a Head teacher. Article 8 provided that the Board of Governors of the European School was to consist of the "Minister or Ministers of each contracting party whose responsibilities include national education and/or external cultural relations", with the Board able to confer a position to a representative of the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community, as per Article 27.

The spread of the European Schools[edit]

Following the foundation of the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) in 1957 and the establishment of the institutions of those Communities in various places, other European Schools were set up in Brussels and Mol, Belgium in 1958, in Varese, Italy in 1960, Karlsruhe, Germany in 1962, in Bergen, the Netherlands in 1963, and a second school in Brussels in 1976. In order to facilitate the setting-up of those new schools and to provide them with a legal basis, the governments of the member states signed on 13 April 1962 in Luxembourg a Protocol on the setting-up of European Schools with reference to the 1957 Statute of the European School.

In 1967, the institutions of the EEC, ECSC and Euratom were merged to form the European Communities. Consequently, the three organisations were represented on the Board of Governors by the European Commission of the European Communities, the successor institution to the High Authority of the ECSC. Taking advantage of the powers conferred to it by the 1957 Statute, the Board of Governors signed an agreement with the European Patent Organisation - a separate intergovernmental organisation - in December 1975 allowing for the creation, in 1977, of a European School in Munich, Germany for the education and instruction together of children of its staff. In 1973, the first enlargement of the European Communities saw the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland accede to the 1957 Statute. In 1978, a European School was established at Culham, UK in order to serve the children of the staff posted to the Joint European Torus Joint Undertaking (JET), supervised by Euratom, for the development of a common nuclear fusion programme. By 1986, following the enlargement of the European Communities to include Greece, Spain and Portugal, the Schools were obliged to provide an education to the students of officials originating from the 12 EC member states.

Coping with EU enlargement[edit]

Pursuant to the incorporation of the European Communities into the European Union in 1993, and envisioning the enlargement in membership of the EU following the end of the Cold War, it was decided that the legal and organisational framework of the Schools needed an overhaul. On 1 October 2002, the Convention Defining the Statute of the European Schools, originally signed in 1994, came into effect repealing and replacing the 1957 Statute of the European School and its accompanying 1962 Protocol. Following the accession of Croatia to the EU in 2013, the 1994 Convention includes amongst its contracting parties all 28 EU member states, as well as the EU itself, and Euratom.

Principles and objectives[edit]

The historical significance of the first European School, founded a mere 12 years after the end of World War II, was not lost on its architects. Children, whose parents had fought on opposite sides of the conflict, would not only be taught together, but, as per the curriculum of the School, learn history and geography in a foreign language and from a foreign point of view. "May the Europe of the European schools definitively take the place of the Europe of the war cemeteries," René Mayer, head of the ECSC proclaimed upon the opening of a new custom building for the School on Boulevard de la Foire in Luxembourg, on 11 December 1957[8]. This sentiment is echoed in the words inscribed in Latin on parchment and sealed in each of the European Schools' foundation stones. Translated into English, it reads:

Educated side by side, untroubled from infancy by divisive prejudices, acquainted with all that is great and good in the different cultures, it will be borne in upon them as they mature that they belong together. Without ceasing to look to their own lands with love and pride, they will become in mind Europeans, schooled and ready to complete and consolidate the work of their fathers before them, to bring into being a united and thriving Europe.

— Marcel Decombis, member of the cabinet of Jean Monnet and Head of the European School, Luxembourg between 1953 and 1960


Age/Year equivalency table
Primary School
Age Name Abbreviation
6–7 First Year P1
7–8 Second Year P2
8–9 Third Year P3
9–10 Fourth Year P4
10–11 Fifth Year P5
Secondary School
Age Name Abbreviation
11-12 First Year S1
12-13 Second Year S2
13-14 Third Year S3
14-15 Fourth Year S4
15-16 Fifth Year S5
16-17 Sixth Year S6
17-18 Seventh Year S7

The curriculum is common to all thirteen schools and is centrally controlled by the Board of Inspectors and the Board of Governors.

Secondary level[edit]

Compulsory subjects for Years 1–7 of the secondary school:

  • First language (normally mother tongue)
  • Second language (Usually one of English, French or German, with some schools providing a local language such as Spanish, Italian, Danish or Dutch as alternate option)
  • Mathematics
  • History (instructed in second language from Year 3)
  • Geography (instructed in second language from Year 3)
  • Ethics/religion (instructed in second language from Year 3)
  • Physical education (instruction in second language is possible from year 3)

Compulsory for Years 1–3 of the secondary school:

  • Art
  • Music

Compulsory subjects for Years 1–5 of the secondary school:

  • Third language (any EU official language, as long as a minimum number of students choose it in the same school)
  • Natural sciences: Physics, Chemistry and Biology (usually combined for Years 1-3)

Compulsory subjects for Years 6–7 of the secondary school:

  • Philosophy
  • Physics and/or Chemistry and/or Biology (at least one science subject is obligatory)

Optional subjects:

  • ICT (instructed in second language) and Latin in Year 3
  • Economics (instructed in second language), Music, or a Fourth and Fifth language in Years 4–7

Foreign language education[edit]

All modern foreign languages offered are taught using the direct method where the lessons are taught in the language being learned, and the use of the student's native tongue is discouraged. These foreign languages lessons are shared with pupils from other language streams. The idea is to encourage the pupils to use the language they are learning as a means of crossing the communication barrier between themselves and pupils from other language streams. From Year 3 onwards of the secondary school, History and Geography as well as other secondary subjects such as Music are taught in each student's second language. Many of the pupils find themselves in a foreign country, so are surrounded by a foreign language. Some pick it up through language immersion, hence some lessons are taught in the national language of the host country.[9]

European Baccalaureate[edit]

The European Baccalaureate is the leaving certification of the European Schools, and should be distinguished from the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the baccalaureates of various national systems. It is a two-year course assessing the performance of students in the subjects taught in Years 6–7, and culminating in a final series exams taken at the end of Year 7. As per the multilingual ethos of the Schools, certain subjects are instructed and assessed in each student's respectvie second language. Details of the examinations are set out in the Annex of the Statute of the European School and in the regulations for the European Baccalaureate.

Those students undertaking the European Baccalaureate are required to study at least 8 and up to a maximum of 11 academic subjects, in addition to physical education and moral/religion, with different weightings according to the course choices made when commencing the Baccaluareate.[10] The final mark is calculated as a percentage, where 60% is the minimum for a pass.

The European Baccalaureate is administered and directly supervised by an external examining board appointed annually by the Board of Governors. The examining board consists of up to three representatives of each member state, who must satisfy the conditions governing the appointment of equivalent examining boards in their respective countries. It is presided over by a senior university educator appointed by each member state in turn, assisted by a member of the Board of Inspectors of the Schools.

Article 5 (2) of the Statute provides that holders of the Baccalaureate shall:

  • enjoy, in the Member State of which they are nationals, all the benefits attaching to the possession of the diploma or certificate awarded at the end of secondary school education in that country; and
  • be entitled to seek admission to any university in the territory of any Member State on the same terms as nationals of that Member State with equivalent qualifications.

The first awards of the European Baccalaureate were made in 1959.

Common extra-curricula activities and events[edit]

Sports teams of the European Schools compete in the biennial Eurosport event, with the Schools alternating as hosts.[11] In addition, students of the Schools have the opportunity to take part in the annual European Schools Science Composium, the winners of which represent the European Schools in the European Union Contest for Young Scientists.[12]

The European Schools also cooperate to take advantage of their unique relationship to EU institutions, to provide students on an annual basis with the opportunity to take part in political simulations of EU meetings, held on the premises of the institutions themselves. Students get the opportunity to role-play as delegates of EU member state governments in a Model European Council, MEPs in a Model European Parliament, or international journalists covering the meetings.

The federation of student representatives of the Schools, CoSup, organises a "Europarty", held in a different European city each academic year, and open to any student of the European Schools over 16 years of age to attend.


Board of Governors[edit]

The Board of Governors is the common executive body of the European Schools, determining educational, administrative and financial matters. When it is not in session, its powers are exercised by its officially appointed Secretary-General.


The governing board is composed of the ministers of education of each of the EU member states, normally represented by senior civil servants from the ministries of education or foreign affairs, together with the representative of the European Commission, representing the EU and Euratom, and the representative of the European Patent Office. A representative designated by the Staff Committee and a representative of the parents designated by the Parents’ Associations are also members of the Board of Governors.

Preparatory Committees[edit]

Matters to be discussed by the Board of Governors first make their way through a range of preparatory committees, the most important of which are the Joint Teaching Committee and the Budgetary Committee. The Joint Teaching Committee gathers Inspectors and directors, together with representatives of teachers, parents and pupils and a representative of the European Commission and the European Patent Office. It examines proposals concerning the organisation and curricula of the schools. The Budgetary Committee, likewise, gathers finance officials from the EU member states, together with representatives of the European Commission and European Patent Office to examine the financial implications of educational proposals and the budgets of individual schools and of the General Secretariat in Brussels.

Boards of Inspectors[edit]

Supervision of the education provided by the European Schools is conducted by two Boards of Inspectors, one for the primary and nursery sections and one for the secondary section. One Inspector from each of the 28 EU member states sits on each Board.

Administrative Boards[edit]

Each European School has an Administrative Board responsible for the day-to-day administration and functioning of the each respective School. Chaired by the Secretary-General of the European Schools. Its other members are the director of the School, a representative of the European Commission, two elected representatives of the teachers, two representatives of the Parents’ Association, a representative of the administrative and socially staff and, at the European School of Munich, a representative of the European Patent Office. Bodies which have signed an agreement with a school and have at least 20 pupils on roll also have the right to be represented on the Administrative Board.

Directors (Head teachers) and teachers[edit]

Each head teacher is appointed by the Board of Governors for nine years. There are generally two deputy-head teachers, one for the secondary section and one for the primary and nursery sections. They are also appointed for nine years. Head and deputy-head teachers are appointed directly by the Board of Governors. All full time teachers are seconded by their national governments for a period up to nine years.

Staff Committees[edit]

Each European School elects, annually, two representatives of the teaching staff (one primary, one secondary) to form a European School Staff Committee which is represented on the Board of Governors, in the Preparatory Committees and on the Administrative Board of each School. In 2016, these roles were enlarged to include Locally Recruited Teachers (LRT)[13] and two further representatives are elected annually. These representatives do not have voting rights, however they are able to attend meetings and represent the interests of LRTs vis-a-vis the School.

Complaints Board[edit]

In the European Schools system, the Complaints Board, an independent administrative court, represents the judiciary, owing to the Schools' unique intergovernmental legal basis.

Parents' Associations[edit]

Common to each European School, the respective Parents' Associations are responsible for overseeing the provision of school transportation, the running of canteen services and extra-curricula activities. Each Parents' Association is open to any parent or legal guardian who has a child enrolled in the Schools, and possesses a place on the Administrative Board of their respective European School. Via a body which federates all the Parents' Associations of the European Schools, INTERPARENTS, they participate in meetings of the Board of Governors of the European Schools, enabling them a voice in intergovernmental meetings which set the future direction of the organisation as a whole. Each Parents' Association is also a member of the Groupe Unitaire pour la Défense des Ecoles Européennes (GUDEE), which groups Parents’Associations, Trades-Unions and other organisations possessing an interest in the future of the European Schools together.

Pupils' Committees and CoSup[edit]

Regulations agreed by the Board of Governors of the European Schools recognise the right of the students of each School to organise and represent themselves in the administration and functioning of the Schools via a Pupils' Committee. Each European Schools' Pupils' Committee is democratically elected at the start of each academic year, headed by a president.

The Pupils' Committees of the European Schools are federated via CoSup, an acronym formed from its French title, Conseil Supérieur des Elèves. Each Pupils' Committee elects two representatives to send to meetings of CoSup. Accredited European Schools may also send representatives. As of 2006, CoSup is recognised by the Board of Governors of the European Schools as an official body. It is able to represent common student interests on the European Schools' Joint Teaching Committee. CoSup possesses a common fund, able to financially support represented Pupils' Committees, when necessary. Amongst other duties, CoSup is responsible for organising the annual Europarty, held in a different European city each year, and open to any student of the European Schools over the age of 16 to attend. CoSup meets four times per academic year and utilises a Qualified Majority Voting system, endowing each European School represented a number of votes proportional to its share of the total number of students enrolled across all European Schools. Each School receives an equal vote weighting for matters concerning the functioning of CoSup, such as its presidential elections, which occur at the last meeting of each academic year.


European Schools[edit]

There are thirteen European Schools, found in eight municipalities, across six EU countries, in close proximity to EU institutions, or in the case of the European School, Munich, the European Patent Organisation. There are already five European Schools in Belgium (four in Brussels and one in Mol) and discussions are currently being held about building a fifth school in Brussels at an undetermined future date. The European School, Culham closed on 31 August 2017.

School Country Founded/Opened in
European School, Luxembourg I (Kirchberg) Luxembourg 1953
European School of Brussels I (Uccle/Ukkel) Belgium 1958
European School, Mol Belgium 1960
European School, Varese Italy 1960
European School, Karlsruhe Germany 1962
European School, Bergen Netherlands 1963
European School of Brussels II (Woluwe) Belgium 1974
European School, Munich Germany 1977
European School, Culham United Kingdom 1978 (closed 31 August 2017)[14]
European School, Brussels III (Ixelles/Elsene) Belgium 2000
European School, Frankfurt am Main Germany 2002
European School, Alicante Spain 2002
European School, Luxembourg II (Bertrange/Mamer) Luxembourg 2004
European School, Brussels IV (Laeken/Laken) Belgium 2006
European School, Brussels V Belgium 2019 [15]

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Chris Adami (European School of Brussels I, German section), is a German professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, as well as professor of physics and astronomy at Michigan State University.
  • Tommaso Allan (European School of Culham, Italian section), is a rugby union player for Italy and Perpignan
  • Dick Annegarn (European School of Brussels I, Dutch-Belgian section) is a Dutch songwriter who worked most of the time in France. In his youth he lived in Brussels and he celebrated this city in his most famous song, called "Bruxelles".
  • Henry Brett (European School of Culham, English section) is a British champion polo player.[16]
  • Ulrich Daldrup (European School of Brussels I, German section) became mayor of Aachen in 1994. Professor at Aachen University Ulrich Daldrup.
  • Eric Everard (European School of Brussels and Luxembourg, French section) is a Belgian manager, who created in 1988 the European Student's Fair. In 1997 he founded Artexis, one of the largest organizers of exhibitions and trade fairs in Europe.
  • Giovanni Ferrero (European School of Brussels, Italian section), is an Italian business manager, chief executive of Ferrero SpA
  • Max Gazzè (European School of Brussels II, Italian section) is an Italian songwriter and musician who worked in Belgium, France and in Italy. He has worked with many European artists including Stephan Eicher and Stewart Copeland.
  • Karin Giegerich (European School of Varese) is a German actress, who worked in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and France.
  • Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (European School of Brussels I, German section) is a German film director who worked in Germany and in the United States. He is best known for writing and directing the 2007 Oscar-winning film The Lives of Others and The Tourist.
  • Boris Johnson (European School of Brussels I, English section) is a British politician, previous Mayor of London (2008–2016), and current Foreign Secretary of the UK (2016– ). He met his second wife Marina Wheeler at the school.
  • Jo Johnson (European School of Brussels I, English section), brother to Boris Johnson, is a British politician and current UK Minister for Universities and Science (2015– ).
  • Bas Kast (European School of Munich) is a German journalist and writer.
  • Christian Keysers (European School of Munich, German section) is a German neuroscientist. In 2004 he received the prestigious Marie Curie award.[17]
  • Thomas Larkin (European School of Varese) is an ice hockey defender. He played with the Italian national ice hockey team.
  • Viktor Lazlo (real name Sonia Dronier) (European School of Mol) is a French singer, actress and writer. She worked in Belgium and France.[18]
  • Stella Maxwell (European School of Brussels II, English section) is a Victoria's Secret model. She was born in Belgium and attended the European School, Woluwe. She then moved to Australia at the age of 13.
  • Margherita Missoni (European School of Varese, Italian section) is the niece of Ottavio Missoni and the daughter of Angela, founders of the Missoni fashion house. After having worked for some years as a model, including for Estée Lauder Companies, she became the icon of the "Missoni acqua" perfume in 2006, thus becoming an active member of the Missoni family group.[19][20]
  • Brian Molko (European School of Luxembourg) is a songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist of the band Placebo.
  • Morten Helveg Petersen (European School of Brussels I) is a Danish politician for the Danish Social Liberal Party. He was elected to the European Parliament in 2014 and served as member of the Folketing 1998–2009.
  • Sarah Teichmann (European School, Karlsruhe), scientist at the University of Cambridge, UK
  • Ursula von der Leyen (European School of Brussels) was the German Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth in the First Merkel cabinet and Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in the Second Merkel cabinet.[21]
  • Marina Wheeler QC(European School of Brussels I, English section) is a British lawyer, author and columnist. She met her husband Boris Johnson at the school.
  • Diederik Wissels (European School of Brussels I, Dutch section) is a Dutch jazz pianist that studied at the Berklee college of music of Boston. He received many awards such as the Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros, the Prix Adami and the Prix du Musicien Européen de l’Académie du Jazz.[22] He played with great artists like Chet Baker, Joe Henderson and Toots Thielemans.


  1. ^ Board of Governors of the European Schools. "Facts and figures on the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year in the European Schools" (PDF). Office of the Secretary-General of the European Schools. p. 9. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Locations of the European Schools". Office of the Secretary General of the European Schools. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  3. ^ Gruber, Joachim (2011-06-01). "European schools: A subject of International Law Integrated into the European Union". International Organizations Law Review. 8 (1): 175–196. doi:10.1163/157237411x587388. ISSN 1572-3747. (Subscription required (help)). Despite their name, the "European Schools" are not a European Union institution, but an independent, autonomous subject of international law.
  4. ^ "Accredited European Schools - FAQ". Office of the Secretary General of the European Schools. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  5. ^ "Locations of the Accredited European Schools". Office of the Secretary General of the European Schools. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  6. ^ "The seats and institutions of the European Union". 8 July 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2017. At the Conference of the Founding States of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) held on 23 July 1952, Luxembourg was chosen as the provisional place of work for its institutions.
  7. ^ Ronsheim, Sally Bober (15 February 1967). A Study of Two International Cultural Schools in Western Europe (Ph.D. thesis). New York University. pp. 294-295. "The problem was first recognized at the end of 1952 when the families of the first functionaries of the European Coal and Steel Community settled in Luxembourg. An extremely complex and delicate problem arose; that of providing the kind of instruction needed for youngsters originating from five different countries. It was necessary to assure without discrimination, a way for them to follow their national studies within a multinational framework. The limited number of students from each country did not allow for the creation of as many schools as nationalities represented. A new kind of school had to be organized to allow for cultural diversity and the special needs of the Community population."
  8. ^ Pomerantsev, Peter (16 June 2016). "Diary". London Review of Books. pp. 46–47. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  9. ^ "European Schools Principles and objectives" Archived 3 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "European School Science Symposium". Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "We are now closed". Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  15. ^ "Fifth European School to take over former site of Nato". Retrieved 2018-07-29. External link in |website= (help)
  16. ^ Davies, Gareth A. (23 September 2002). "My Sport: Henry Brett". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Ursula von der Leyen - CV of the Minister of Defence". Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 June 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2014.

External links[edit]