The English Trust for European Education, the only trust on multilingual education in England, has successfully managed to bring together all recently constituted Associated European Schools (AES) across Europe into a network aimed at facilitating collaboration among these leading edge educational establishments.
Right now there is only one school offering this kind of education in England, in Oxfordshire. The school is closely linked to the European Commission and was set up initially to provide education for the families of JET’s employees. The imminent demise of this prestigious research establishment and relocation to larger premises in France, has resulted in the decision by their Board of Governors to earmark the school for closure, despite it being very successful and attracting mixed nationality children from across the county and beyond, mostly from families unrelated to European Commission organisations. However, a new Associated European School will soon be set up as a Free School (*).
Across Europe several so-called Associated European Schools, not financed by Brussels but locally, have also been allowed to start in the last few years. This is part of a strategy endorsed by the European Parliament to open up this novel educational system to as many EU citizens as possible, rather than to a small number of families with links to the Commission only. Schools that have been set or are being planned are located in Italy, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands among others, making it a truly pan-European family of schools.
Up to now, however, there was no formal collaborative network for these new schools and ETEE feared this would make them weaker, threatening to derail the project. Following lengthy negotiations the newly formed network was finally launched in Bad Vilbel, Germany at the end of September 2011. The network will address common issues such as teachers’ training, curriculum harmonisation and other matters including pupils and teachers exchanges. In true EU fashion the Chairmanship of the network will be on rotation, with the Helsinki school being the first to take up this post.
“We are beginning to see the fruits of our efforts with the creation of a Free School based on the European schools model in Culham, now supported by a pan-European network of similar schools.” says Jim Campbell, ETEE’s Chairman, “The network would help the local school becoming a centre of excellence for languages, as well as encouraging the creation of similar schools across England and Wales. Furthermore this new initiative will strengthen our role as facilitators and mediators for similar schemes.”
(*) ETEE has worked closely with prospective and existing parents to secure the new school assisting with the formation of a new Board of Directors for the Europa Free School. The new project will run as a fully inclusive state school, benefiting a large number of children across Oxfordshire, as well as other local schools willing to specialise in modern European languages.
The English Trust for European Education (www.etee.org.uk) is a charitable organisation for the development of multilingual European Education in Britain. The Trust’s main objective is to support the establishment of schools in England that provide multilingual European education, as well as supporting teachers and educators keen to encourage the diffusion of multilingual education.
The Trust is a registered charity no. 1123847. The Trust’s Patrons are Prof. Norman Davies, Lord Jay of Ewelme, Baroness Quin, Lord Thomas of Swinnerton and Gerald Wilson (Scottish European Education Trust - SEET). ETEE collaborates with SEET on the dissemination of information on European education affairs affecting the lives of citizens in the UK.
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