European Medicines Agency

The news that the EMA is going to relocate to Amsterdam has brought about a lot of activity and discussion in the school, in the region and in the country. For the Dutch economy the arrival of the agency is a great benefit as it will not only bring 900 employees of the agency, but also all of the business connected with it.

This week we had the first visit from the EMA. Two of their representatives were making a first tour of the Amsterdam area to look at possible schools – we were one of the schools they visited. The children of the EMA are Category 1 pupils in our school, and so we are a very interesting option. There are about 600 children in total from all European nationalities, and there are quite large numbers of French, Italian and Spanish families. We can imagine that if they come to us, most of the pupils will go into the English section and then have their mother tongue as what we call “SWALS” pupils.

The possibility for lots of new pupils is great for our school – there used to be nearly 1000 pupils in our school, and we might get close to that number again. This would mean more teachers and more budget for the school, and so everyone would benefit – we would also be able to have more options available to all the pupils.

So at the moment our task is to do what we can to make our school as attractive as possible to parents from the EMA and to encourage the parents to make a lifestyle choice to live in the area of the school. The Bergen-Alkmaar area has so many benefits for them, especially if they have been living and commuting in London. Our Parents Association have offered to help, and in Petten the same. We have the full support of the Noord-Holland region in this – they see the economic advantages of families moving into this area as well.

The employees in the EMA can of course choose where they want to live, and they may wish to live in Amsterdam until they see the cost of housing – but they also have many other options. Within 50km in every direction from the site of the EMA they have a lot of possibilities from Almere, Hilversum, Utrecht, Haarlem and Den Haag,  just to mention a few. So we will do our best to put the Bergen-Alkmaar area on the map!

Will the school be big enough in Bergen? We believe so, although there are discussions about the building which is getting old. Should it be renovated or replaced? Decisions about this, and maybe also moving, are not for the school to decide – this is a decision made by the Dutch Ministry of Education. However, what is clear is that even if a decision was taken to rebuild or move the school, this would be a project over several years – and we would stay in the Bergen-Alkmaar area because of our links with Joint Research Centre in Petten, which is why the school was built in the first place.

The only thing that matters at the moment is to make our school community a welcoming place for as many of the EMA families as possible. As I have more news I will let you know. If you work for the EMA and you are reading this, welcome! Please get in touch with us – we are ready to help!

Best wishes,

Steve Lewis, Director