The autumn term is now in full swing and the students are settled into their new timetable and working towards their next goals.

In the Nursery & Primary school the parents’ evenings are happening over the next 2 weeks – please note the earlier start time of 17:30 with the L2 teacher and then 18:00 for the class meeting. This week’s meetings have thrown up some interesting issues, some of which we are aware of from previous years.

The biggest and by far the most important issue is that relating to the provision of teachers in the school. As some of you may be aware there has been an increasing tendency for the member states not to second teachers because they feel that they are contributing too much money and resources to the European Schools. This has been brought very much into the spotlight by the UK decision not to second teachers at all in light of the decision by the UK government to withdraw from the European Union, Brexit.

The result is that the school is having to rely more and more on locally recruited teachers, or “Chargé de Cours” (CdC). The European Schools operate a system of centralised contract terms and conditions for CdC including salary. Being blunt, the salary is not sufficient to attract teachers from outside Luxembourg or who do not have alternative means of income.

The process to replace departing teachers began in March this year when most of those departing were known and the seconding arrangements almost complete. Advertising was done extensively in the UK, including the Times Educational Supplement (TES) and sufficient candidates were attracted to hold interviews.

Advertising was also done in the Republic of Ireland and again candidates came forward and were interviewed. Despite the relatively low salary the vacancies have been filled with the best available and willing teachers for our school.

The issue that has been raised, in particular in the younger years (M1 – P2), is the fact that not of these teachers are native speakers in the language in which the class is being taught. We are well aware of this and of it being a growing trend with regard to the English section. The school are also well aware of this as is the Secretary General of the European Schools and the Board of Governors.

We, your Parents’ Association, are working closely with the school at all levels to ensure that our children have the best teachers at all times. However, we are also very aware of the major constraints that the school has to work under. These are:

  1. Terms, conditions and salary for the CdC
  2. Luxembourg specific conditions – education landscape and cost of living

I have covered the first of these and the second probably needs some more explanation.

Luxembourg is a small country with an increasing need to educate children in an international environment. Therefore, the Luxembourg government has embarked on a plan to increase the number of European Accredited Schools from the current one in Differedange by adding one in Junglinster in the immediate future and plans for up to 2 more in the coming years. This means that there are more and more opportunities for teachers to work in the Luxembourg education system and so compete for the teacher resources in the country. These are in addition to the International School Michel Lucius in Limpertsberg offering IGCSEs.

Another aspect to consider are the ongoing needs of the private schools in Luxembourg, in particular St Georges International School and the International School of Luxembourg, as well as the plans of Over the Rainbow to grow into a full school with Primary and Secondary being added to the nursery over time.

As you can see, there is growing competition to attract high quality teachers from all sectors of school education. You also need to know that we are working with our school, the Office of the Secretary General of the European Schools, Board of Governors and the Luxembourg Education Ministry to find a workable solution to the recruitment of CdC.

The outlook is not as bleak as it may appear right now. There is no question of there not being an English language section in the school and there are several options being looked at as potential ways of resolving the current issues around CdC recruitment and retention. This work is being carried out and will be reported via the Board of Governors in the not too distant future.

Phil Taylor