Summary by John Coughlan, President APEEEL1
Covid-19: response to the pandemic
- The Secretary General (SG) said that the school have been most transparent of all European schools in providing Statistics on infections, quarantine etc
- Luxembourg was the most generous host country to the European Schools in terms of providing sanitary material etc.
- APEEEL1 raised three points:
- The success of the school’s policy in limiting transmission of the virus was in large part due to the compliance of the pupils from primary to secondary in wearing facemasks the whole time and tribute should be paid to their contribution in this effort.
- The ongoing impact of the pandemic is felt not only in terms of infections and public health measures but also in terms of the interruption of in situ teaching and the continuation of distance learning. We pleaded for the school to keep working to improve standards in this area.
- We expressed the hope that an arrangement could be found to provide the pupils of our school with a level playing field in terms of access to digital devices like in the Luxembourg public schools – and have already raised this issue with the school management, the heads of administration of the EU institutions (CALUX) and the Luxembourg delegation.
- The SG thanked parents for their contribution to meeting the challenges of the pandemic.
- It is understood that the EU institutions – including the schools – in Luxembourg will take part in the national vaccination programme.
- The school conducted an analysis of the trend in pupil numbers and it was concluded that there is no need to apply to the Luxembourg Bâtiments Publics for an extension to be built for at least the next 10-12 years.
- The school is nevertheless preparing a request to replace the pre-fabricated T-Block in the secondary school.
- APEEEL1 welcomed the decision to ask for a replacement to T-Block, which is beset by many problems, including inadequate heating/cooling and no access for persons with reduced mobility. We pointed out that it is important to analyse not only the overall number of pupils but also how they are broken down into class units. The introduction of the Lithuanian section creates the need for an extra classroom every year until the section covers all cycles, for instance. Also, as we had argued when an application was being prepared to complete A-Block in the primary school, it would be good to have not just big classrooms but also small rooms for educational support where individual or small group tuition can be provided without having to share the space with other groups or being used as a storeroom.
- The pupils raised the need for psychological support as a result of the pressures of the pandemic.
- The SG said that the Board of Governors had made extra Covid-19 funding available and that this was being used by other schools, so ours should ensure that it was doing so also.
- The school confirmed that they currently have 1.0 FTE psychologist post divided between two people working half-time.
- APEEEL1 underlined that the whole school community was currently concerned by the issues raised by a particular case, including issues of public security. Given that it was not possible to discuss individual cases at this meeting, we sent a letter to the SG and Director detailing the parents’ concerns. The SG acknowledged receipt of the letter and promised to give it his full attention.
- Following a request at the last Admin Board meeting, there was an extensive discussion about the increase in spending on educational support in recent years:
- There were 32 children in the school requiring 100% full-time support. The school employs 25 support assistants (FTE).There are many children with educational needs coming from the Luxembourgish system.
- APEEEL1 drew attention to the fact that the increase in spending coincided with a change in management of the school and that the increase might also be explained not only by the arrival of new pupils but also by the proper analysis of existing pupils’ needs being conducted, which is what is supposed to serve as the basis for calculation of this budget item.
- The school conducted an analysis of the cost per head which showed that the amounts being spent at Lux1 were not disproportionate to other schools based on the numbers of children needing support.
- The impact of the “attractiveness package” on the overall cost of support teachers, most of whom are locally recruited teachers.
- The school said that it was preparing an application for state support considering the numbers of children coming from the Luxembourgish system.
Future canteen management
- APEEEL1 addressed the issue of the future canteen management following a letter it had received from the school management in December 2020.
- The SG conceded that this letter went too far in claiming that the parents – and specifically APEEEL1 – should take over management of the canteen from September 2022.
- He reiterated the fundamental concerns underlying the Board of Governors’ decision that the legal and financial management of the canteen should be separated from that of the school. He held up the European school in Varese as the example to follow, in which the canteen is run by a purpose-built cooperative separate from the legal structure of the school.
- The SG had also received the position paper of Interparents on this subject and had asked the legal staff at OSGES to analyse the arguments we presented. He is awaiting their advice.
- The conclusion was that all stakeholders should engage in an open-minded discussion about how to address the fundamental concerns of the original Board of Governors decision.