CULHAM SCHOOL PROJECT
(updated November 2012)
The European School Culham is the only UK example of this unique network of European Schools in the European Communities. All original European Schools are inter–governmental bodies, providing a curriculum that leads to the European Baccalaureate, an academic qualification fully recognised by all EU governments and beyond and unique in examining bilingually across subjects. Although the school hasbeen highly successful in terms of parental demand and pupil achievements, the governing body of all European Schools determined that the it no longer met the restricted purpose for which it was founded (i.e. education for families of European Commission employees) since the Culham JET/Taurus nuclear fusion project is being transferred to France.
The English Trust for European Education (ETEE) was at the forefront of the proposal to transform the school into a state-funded European Academy, serving a wider sector of the local population, and therefore opening up and projecting its wider vision of trans-European education. Our original document envisaged the creation of an Academy with access based on linguistic needs, determined by the pupils circumstances and where as many European languages as possible could be studied simultaneously. This model was based on preliminary discussions across the whole political spectrum, though it was founded on the understanding that Academies were to be given curricular freedom and other wider powers.
A first attempt by CLASS - 2011
A future European Academy was planned by an appointed, government backed, charitable Trust called CLASS. Their aim was to turn the school into an all-age inclusive, multilingual, co-educational establishment compatible with the English national curriculum, but where pupils would have been able to select a course of study leading to the European Baccalaureate. The UK government had intended to transform the existing school into an Academy by 2010, slipping then to September 2011 to allow for extensive talks at European level in relation to legal and administrative matters. Regrettably, in February 2011 CLASS announced that they were withdrawing from the project issuing a public statement on the situation.
As the initiators of this project together with the parents association (CESPA) we had hoped that a new academic institution could have been set up in order to offer mother tongue teaching in as wide a selection of European languages as possible, ensuring the diversity of educational experience which is at the heart of European schooling.
However, the Academy project set up by CLASS provided an uncertain vision, as well as attempting to push administrative boundaries both in the EU and within the UK system.
Post April 2011 events - Free School
A number of parents, some outside the parents association, decided in 2011 to set up an association to create a French/German Free school alongside the existing European Schools. The trustees of ETEE engaged in exploratory talks in order to ascertain developments and whether these would be in-keeping with our vision of European Education.
By working closely with the newly formed Steering Group and the Board of Directors of the Europa Free School we attempted to safeguard as much as possible of the European vision in the new Free School proposal.
Our Chairman, Maurizio Fantato, chaired the Europa Free School Steering Group in its initial phase (for details on the proposal please visit the news section of our web site). We are delighted the new school was able to receveive appropriate funding and we welcomed its official opening in September 2012.
ETEE offers a charitable framework to carry forward our vision of a trans-European network of schools committed to mother tongue, multicultural and multilingual education, with the transmission and projection to future generations of the European heritage.
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These comments represent solely the position of the English Trust for European Education, a wholly independent charitable Trust unrelated to other stakeholders that may be involved in the transformation process for the Culham European School.