Why are SWALS students leaving European schools

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European schools system

European schools system is like a never-ending maze of paperwork and bureaucracy.

It’s as if they believe that the more forms you fill out, the smarter you become. Secretary general and deputy secretary general are too busy worrying about their pensions and summer vacations to actually produce anything useful.

It’s a system where children are just tiny cogs in a big bureaucratic machine, and education takes a backseat to administrative tasks.

It’s time for a major overhaul, because right now, the European schools system is about as effective as a chocolate teapot.

Letter from the parent, which clearly express all the frustration regarding SWALS students * and passive and indifferent school management of European school Luxembourg 2 who doesn’t care about minorities.

Dear Ms Soekov and Mr. Frithiofson,

Thank you for your reply regarding our request to change L2 to French for our daughter. Unfortunately your decision comes too late (26 days after passing the admission test) and we managed to find an alternative solution in the meanwhile. Today is my daughter’s first day in her new school which offers to her an appropriate level of French and importantly also appropriate level of English. Secondary cycle of European School Lux 2 fails to provide the latter to SWALS despite several years of efforts by parents flagging that a change is needed desperately. Purely for your info and comparison; the procedure to admit her to her new school – a Luxembourgish Lycee – was finalized in roughly 2 hours after her admission test. Regardless of this solution, we found your offer of the L2 change problematic and not easy to legally justify given that my daughter’s conditions for subsequent L2 change would be worse than that of her peers’ (3rd bullet point from your letter).

School’s attitude towards SWALS students

SWALS students leaving school
Children leaving school

I would like to use the opportunity of my daughter’s departure to give a brief feedback. The school left her with a big load of happy memories, many friendships with wonderful people but also with a bad taste in her mouth. Unfortunately the school has often been perceived more as a bureaucratic institution which focuses on strict interpretation of rules. Instead it of looking for ways to invest in its students and reaching for their upmost potential (by efficiently adapting learning conditions to students’ needs) together with parents.

One particular concern is the attitude of the school toward SWALS students. My daughter often perceived her SWALS status as a stigma which we find strongly misaligned with the fact that the school was founded for EU countries and as such SWALS status (which is restricted to certain member states) should never come as penalization. We know many SWALS parents who feel discriminated not only against non-SWALS nationalities but also against non-EU members and would hence gladly switch to the system used for children’s peers from e.g. Turkey or Pakistan.

Price to pay

I understand that the main objective of European School is to protect the mother tongue. While I haven’t met any parents who find this objective unimportant it is evident that the protection of mother tongue in European School simply comes at a too high price.

bad/good weather
bad/good weather

Firstly, students are isolated from local community as the school doesn’t provide education for any of the local languages (case of SWALS students in English section) and apparently organisation of extravehicular lessons of French or German in school is not allowed. Second price to pay is the well-known inadequate and frustrating teaching of the tuition language for SWALS students in secondary cycle. Until these issues are addressed parents (and students) will continue to look for alternative solutions and the objective of protecting mother tongue will not be achieved. One example is our eldest daughter who as of today ceased with her mother tongue lessons due to these considerations. Perhaps European School would have managed to protect her mother tongue had it provided a different, more flexible setup.

I hope this honest feedback is accepted constructively and might be useful in future search for improvements. I remain available for any further discussions.

Kind regards,

Parent of ex-European-School-student

*SWALS (Students without a language section) –

Pupils for whom there is no language section corresponding to their mother tongue/dominant language will be enrolled at the schools/sites specified below, provided that there are places to be filled.

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Aim of the European Schools

Educated side by side, untroubled from infancy by divisive prejudices, acquainted with all that is great and good in the different cultures, it will be borne in upon them as they mature that they belong together. Without ceasing to look to their own lands with love and pride, they will become in mind Europeans, schooled and ready to complete and consolidate the work of their fathers before them, to bring into being a united and thriving Europe.

Marcel Decombis, Head of European School, Luxembourg between 1953 and 1960