The project of European School Strasbourg
European School Strasbourg is the result of a long lasting and exemplary collaboration between Académie de Strasbourg, Strasbourg local authority, Bas-Rhin regional council and Région Alsace.
Its roots are to be found in the status of European capital held by the city since 1948 and in the establishment of the Council of Europe. Reinforced since then by the development of new European, and even international, institutions, the position of Strasbourg has definitely been consecrated by the establishment of the European Parliament and, later, the arrival of the European Union Ombudsman.
In line with such development, the City had to be in a position to offer education solutions up to the expectations of European and international civil servants as well as those of diplomats. International teaching in the Strasbourg area was already widely available, in particular due to the presence of "international sections" in the French educational system. However, there was still a lack of teaching solutions closer to international criteria and therefore more likely to attract to Strasbourg an international population willing to ensure a manner of continuity for their children’s schooling while also allowing for its mobility.
A "Type 2" school
The French Ministry of education has opted for the European schools’ pedagogical model. Its application was made possible in France due to possibility raised in 2006 by the European Schools Council (ESC) to create associated schools known as "Type 2 schools", i.e. with a pedagogical model strictly conforming to the one implemented in the 14 European schools known as "Type 1" but with an administration system under the responsibility of the hosting country.
Created in 1953, the European schools’ pedagogical model has demonstrated its worth and represents today an original response to the educational needs of parents anxious to share with their children their own commitment to Europe.
Its founding principle is expressed as follows :
"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".
Based on a multicultural approach, with strong emphasis on languages, as well as on the child’s autonomy and an important place left to parents in the school, a complete curriculum is elaborated from nursery school through to the European Baccalaureate, which is a certificate fully acknowledged in all the countries of the European union, as well as by some other countries, to seek admission to any institution of higher education.
The Strasbourg project
The project was unanimously approved by the ESC during its session dated 14 to 16 April 2008 in Helsinki. It will have to be submitted to an accreditation further to an audit performed by the European schools’ body of Inspectors which will take place at the end of the first term of operation, or at the beginning of the second term. Such accreditation will then have to be renewed every two years.
Principles and objectives
- to give pupils confidence in their own cultural identity - the bedrock for their development as European citizens;
- to provide a broad education of high quality, from nursery level to university-entrance;
- to develop high standards in the mother tongue and in foreign languages;
- to develop mathematical and scientific skills throughout the whole period of schooling;
- to encourage a European and global perspective overall and particularly in the study of the human sciences;
- to encourage creativity in music and the plastic arts and an appreciation of all that is best in a common European artistic heritage;
- to develop physical skills and instill in pupils an appreciation of the need for healthy living through participation in sporting and recreational activities;
- to offer pupils professional guidance on their choice of subjects and on career/university decisions in the later years of the secondary school;
- to foster tolerance, co-operation, communication and concern for others throughout the school community and beyond;
- to cultivate pupils’ personal, social and academic development and to prepare them for the next stage of education.
In the light of the above objectives, education in the schools is organised on the basis of the following principles:
Basic instruction is given in the official languages of the European Union. This principle allows the primacy of the pupil’s mother tongue (L1) to be safeguarded.
Consequently, each school comprises several language sections. The curricula and syllabuses (except in the case of mother tongue) are the same in all sections.
In the schools where the creation of a separate language section is not justified, they are governed by an intergovernmental Protocol. The Convention defining the Statute of the European Schools, which replaces the earlier agreements dating back to 1957 and 1984, entered into force in October 2002 after ratification by the fifteen Member States of the European Union.
Following enlargement on 1 May 2004, the accession to the Convention of the ten new Member States is under way.
To foster the unity of the school and encourage genuine multi-cultural education, there is a strong emphasis on the learning, understanding and use of foreign languages. This is developed in a variety of ways:
the study of a first foreign language (English, French or German), known as L II, is compulsory throughout the school, from the first primary class;
- all pupils must study a second foreign language (L III), starting in the second year of secondary school. Any language available in the school may be chosen;
- pupils may choose to study a third foreign language (L IV) from the fourth class of secondary school. Any language available in the school may be chosen;
- language classes are composed of mixed nationalities and are taught by native speakers;
- a weekly "European Hour" in the primary school brings together children from all sections for cultural, artistic and games activities;
- in the secondary school, classes in art, music and physical education are always composed of mixed nationalities;
- from the third class of secondary school, history and geography are studied in the pupil’s first foreign language, also called "the working language" (English, French or German). Economics, which may be taken as an option from the fourth class of the secondary school, is also studied in a working language. From the third class, therefore, all social science subjects are taught to groups of mixed nationalities;
- finally, everyday interaction in the playground, the corridors and the recreation rooms enhances the acquisition of other languages and the realisation that using them is not only vital but natural.
The conscience and convictions of individuals are respected. Religious education or education in non-confessional ethics is an integral part of the curriculum.
Organisation of studies
It includes two levels. The nursery section, which accepts children from the age of four, aims to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to develop their potential. Provision is made for interpretive and directed learning, but it is recognised that purposeful play provides the most important learning situation at nursery level.
The European school attaches great importance, as early as nursery level, to physical, psychological, social, affective and creative development which is essential for successful schooling and the well-being of all children.
This course includes 5 classes. In the primary school the focus is on the mother tongue (L1), mathematics and the first foreign language (LII), but art, music, physical education, exploring our world and religion/ethics are important - as are the "European Hours", where mixed nationalities meet for a variety of activities.
The seven classes of secondary education are organised in the following way:
- for the first three classes, pupils follow a common course, known as the observation cycle. Most subjects are taught in the mother tongue, although in the second class all must begin a second foreign language, and in the third class all begin to study history and geography in their "working language" (L2). Latin is offered as an option in the third class.
- In classes 4 and 5 the compulsory course in integrated science is subdivided into physics, chemistry and biology, and pupils may choose between the advanced or the normal course in mathematics. Other options include economics, a third foreign language and ancient Greek.
- Classes 6 and 7 form a unit which leads to the European Baccalaureate. Although there is a core of compulsory subjects including mother tongue, L2, mathematics, a science, philosophy, physical education, history and geography, students have a wide range of further options and may choose to study some subjects for two periods, four periods or at an advanced level.
The European Baccalaureate
The secondary school course is validated by the European Baccalaureate examinations at the end of the seventh class. The certificate awarded is fully recognised in all the countries of the European Union, as well as in a number of others. The Examining Board, which oversees the examinations in all language sections, is chaired by a university professor and is composed of examiners from each country of the Union. They are appointed annually by the Board of Governors and must meet the requirements laid down in their home countries for appointment to examining boards of the same level.
The parents’ association
It plays an important role in various committees and working groups in the schools. The views and suggestions of parents concerning the organisation of the schools are put forward via their elected representatives on the Administrative Board and the Education Committee of the school.
Each school organises, in collaboration with the parents’ association, a wide array of activities during lunch hour and free afternoons. Such activities may vary according to the pupils’ interests, teachers’ initiatives and skills as well as wishes expressed by parents. These activities include sport, music, theatre, art, sciences ...