Updated December 2018
INTERPARENTS has been working hard on Brexit-related issues since June 24th (constructing a dynamic risk register specific to Brexit, liaising with key stakeholders and reaching out to influencers on different aspects of the issue.) We would also very much like to continue consulting with parents on this issue through you.
As we all know, the UK Prime Minister intends to invoke Article 50 before the end of March which will trigger up to two years of negotiations. Although the European Schools are based on a separate intergovernmental convention https://www.eursc.eu/BasicTexts/SW1_21994A0817-en.pdf , we have to be prepared for the likelihood that the UK will also withdraw from the European Schools.
It is critical we understand that Brexit is a ‘whole school issue’ – not just affecting those in the Anglophone section and certainly not just for those with UK passports, but touching everyone in the school. The ubiquity and importance of English to the schools was recognised clearly by the Secretary General in his public statement in July https://www.eursc.eu/en/Office/news?c=exp (see also below) and since then reinforced strongly by his successor in such fora as the Joint Teaching Committee.
Some of the challenges of course pre-date the UK referendum (such as the increasing imbalance of ‘demand vs supply’ for teachers of English L1, L2, L3 and all subjects taught through English since the UK decided to stop new secondments in excess of its quota, insufficient teachers willing and able to take on coordination roles…) but these problems are exacerbated by the UK referendum outcome and may well cascade pressure into other parts of the school.
However, there are also a number of other less obvious whole-school issues arising from the UK Referendum, relating to the curriculum, quality assurance and especially university access for instance, as well as some specific concerns for certain groups (obviously the UK nationals but also others.)
Whenever we have brainstormed the topic in INTERPARENTS, we concluded that as a school community, we need to:
- Recognise unequivocally that “Brexit is a ‘whole-school’ issue” and communicate that message as widely as possible, in various fora, in order to keep the European Schools front-of-mind and to ensure that the breadth of impact of the UK Referendum result on the schools correctly understood. (This is an especially important message to come from non-UK nationals directed towards stakeholders and influencers from all Member States.)
- Act now. (Even though Article 50 has not been invoked, the outcome of the referendum was a trigger for many people to consider their situations and for some to begin making decisions about their future. Despite the European Commission not being able to engage formally in pre-discussion on Brexit-related topics, the European School system must monitor and react continuously to changing situations… as it always must. Simply put, the clock is ticking and we cannot wait for Article 50 to be invoked.)
- Appreciate and support our teachers, especially those who deliver subjects in English, many of whom may be feeling stressed and isolated – not just the UK seconded staff but all teachers who may be concerned about the potential knock-on effects in terms of workload and other challenges ahead, including locally hired EN teachers and EN seconded teachers from other Member States. A kind word, a smile and positive support from parents can go a long way!
- Identify as fully as possible ALL the specific risks which might affect all or specific groups of stakeholders in the school community (ranking them to reflect impact, likelihood, possible timing, our ability to influence etc…)
- Monitor the situation in relation to the perceived risks so as to pick up warning signs and examples of actions already being taken in the light of the referendum result – the more concrete the examples the better. All of this will help us understand the extent of the problem and if necessary, to make it ‘real’ for those in decision-making roles and INTERPARENTS wants to hear from you.
- Identify channels of communication (i.e. To whom should we be talking? Who in our school community can reach those individuals/groups?)
So this is a call for your help and those of the parents in your schools and different linguistic sections with specialist knowledge, expertise or contacts. If you have any thoughts or questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at email@example.com.