The crisis for the SEEH follows a recent inspection of the school on behalf of the Board of Governors of the European Schools. We cannot publish the report here, but here are a few extracts that give a sense of what the problems are and where responsibility for the crisis lies.
The inspectors had many good things to say about the school, its pupils, staff, and management. They begin their summary findings as follows:
The School of European Education, Heraklion (SEEH) is the only international school on the island of Crete. This European School is of significant value and pride for the Cretan and Greek authorities, as well as for its pupils, parents and teachers. The school programme is completely based on the guidelines and rules for European schools. Official syllabuses are the baseline for all subjects.
The school management and teachers work very hard and expend a lot of commitment and energy to their tasks. Moreover, they are dedicated to their school, which they call a school with soul. Maintaining quality of provision of the European Schools programme is their priority.
Teachers and management have succeeded in creating a warm pedagogical climate. Relationships between pupils, teachers and management are informal and relaxed, yet respectful. A daily assembly of all pupils and staff establishes a family environment. A stimulating learning environment is created for the pupils who are actively engaged in their work. Most lessons are well-structured and well-paced and their purpose is clear and specific. ICT is used to support the learning process in many classrooms. Many interesting extra-curricular activities are organised for the pupils. The pupils are very positive about their schooling and their teachers. They feel privileged to be a pupil of a European school: they know that it will give them a good start at universities abroad (!) and they appreciate the breadth of the curriculum.
The school is very open to its local and European contexts: it has contacts with the neighbourhood – neighbours are invited to its festivities – and it participates and takes the lead in cultural local and regional projects of the community of Heraklion.
Teachers and students have frequent contacts with other European schools. The Heraklion school really has a European spirit. That is also manifest in the building: classrooms and corridors have interesting cooperative projects and student work on display, often with a European dimension.
The Parents Association is very supportive and encouraging of the school.So what is the problem? The report continues:
However, the school faces some major problems of which management, parents, teachers and school authorities are fully aware. These are a serious threat for the future and existence of the school.
1. No continuity
All teachers have a contract on a yearly basis only. This is a very serious risk for the continuity of education, especially for a school that hopes to provide the BAC exam within two years. [...]
An extra problem was caused this year by the delay in recruitment of teachers. The school year could only start in October! This caused a lot of insecurity and anger in the school and for the parents which resulted in a considerable loss of students.
2. Small numbers of pupils
The number of pupils is too limited – especially in the English section secondary- where there are classes with 1, 2 or 3 pupils, to guarantee a full European education where pupils can learn independently and learn from each other in a multicultural context. [...]
The problems at the start of this school year have reduced the number of pupils considerably. Another major cause of pupils leaving the school was the fact that the BAC diploma does not give access to Greek universities: an extra exam is required. This is not conforming to the Convention!
3.The school building
The building is far from suitable to provide proper education for all its pupils. There are not enough classrooms, sport facilities or playgrounds. There is no proper workspace for teachers. No nursery 1 class could be opened this year. This will have consequences for the next years (if any).
The provision of a suitable school building would help to encourage pupil enrolment and parental belief in the school.
The verbal commitments given by the Regional Director of Crete and the Regional Director of Education in Crete to support the building project are acknowledged.
The inspectors go on to make six specific recommendations, designed to address the problems identified, and they indicate that the future of the school depends on these recommendations being quickly accepted and implemented by the Greek authorities. We believe this can done quickly and at a relatively small cost. What's needed is a commitment to the school from the authorities, regional and national.
The inspectors conclude:
However, despite the warm pedagogical climate, the active learning environment, the quality and commitment of teachers and management, the existence of the school is seriously threatened by the huge problems that the school has to face, without having the means or possibilities to resolve them.
It is up to the Greek authorities to save this school and to find solutions for the problems, in the very short term!
We agree! Please sign our petition and help us save this school.