Happy New Year! I hope that 2019 will be a good year for all of you. It will certainly be an interesting year for the school, and I would like to use this opportunity to look back and to look forward. I know that there are many questions and rumours out there – and I will try and explain things as they are at the moment.
New pupils and the European Medicines Agency
In 2018 we saw an increase in numbers of pupils, and one of the main reasons for this was the arrival of the first pupils from the European Medicines Agency. In September the first 27 pupils started at the school, and from January onwards small numbers of extra pupils will arrive, with a larger group in September. Our school had the highest number of “early mover” pupils, and we hope that by September 2019 around 70-90 pupils from the agency will be with us. We expect that our numbers will increase in total to around 600.
Everyone in the school community has been very active in this project – we have been to the agency in London three times, and the admissions secretaries, teachers, deputy directors and the Parents Association have all provided a lot of support. As a result the EMA families and pupils have settled in well into the school, and they have praised our friendly school community. So far these new EMA pupils have gone into the English section, and we can see that in some year groups, especially in the primary cycle are filling up. I would like to thank everyone for their commitment.
The Dutch and French sections
The numbers in the Dutch speaking section are stable, although in recent years they have fallen. We would therefore be very happy to have more pupils across the school. As you will know, Dutch pupils cannot automatically join the school and have to have permission from the Ministry of Education – but if you know any Dutch families who might be interested, please ask them to get in touch. Often Dutch families think that their children cannot join our school, and this is not the case.
In the French speaking section, the numbers have increased in some parts of the school. In some classes in the secondary the classes have become quite large because of French pupils transferring from the French primary school in Amsterdam.
Future of the school building
There has been a lot of talk about the future of the school and the location. A lot of parents have committed to living in the Bergen/Alkmaar area, and because of the relationship we have with JRC Petten it is not an option at all for the school to move out of the area. What I can tell you is that in the early part of the year there will be a lot of discussions with all groups involved in the school community to find out what the needs of the school community are, and various scenarios will be presented in the spring in the Ministry of Education. They are the ones in the end who are responsible for providing the building, and it is clear that a new school is a very expensive option indeed.
All decisions about the future of the school building have to be taken by many groups of people, and so if there is a new school building, or discussions about a new location, it will take a long time before things change. Whatever happens, we want to make sure that whatever is proposed will be an improvement on what we have now – and we are very happy with so much in our present school and its location. But it is getting old, and needs some investment. As soon as we have any news we will let you know of course.
There will be so much in the news about this at the start of 2019. The main consequence so far of Brexit for our school is the very positive increase in pupil numbers with the arrival of EMA pupils.
Other than that, whatever Brexit happens, we cannot predict what will happen – although we do not expect that there will be much impact on the school. The Anglophone section will not close down – a rumour one hears. The UK teachers will not leave – another rumour. In fact most of our UK teachers are on local contracts, and it seems very unlikely that anyone will be affected, unless they choose to leave.
In any case, the European Schools are working on two different scenarios at the moment – with the no-deal scenario things should stay the same until summer 2020; with a withdrawal agreement Brexit, one year later.
And for the rest……
We hope that 2019 will be a positive, calm, productive and successful year at the school with happy pupils, teachers, staff and parents. We have had three years with 100% Bac passes, and our S7 is under pressure to make it four years in a row! We will work hard to integrate new EMA pupils into our school family, and show them and all of our pupils that we can provide them with a stimulating, academically challenging and friendly environment for learning…..just like in our mission statement:
“As one of the original European Schools, we offer a languages-rich, differentiated, all-round quality education in three language sections leading to the European Baccalaureate which provides access to a wide range of universities in Europe and beyond. Beyond academic achievement we encourage young people to develop other skills as part of a caring “one school, one learning community” in an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect.”
Please ask us if you have any questions or concerns, and I am always available if you have any specific questions.
Steve Lewis, Director.