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European Schools Programme

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 16 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will make a statement on the evolution of the European Schools programme, with particular reference to its activities in England. (156946)

The EU institution, European Schools, was established by an intergovernmental agreement in 1957. Its purpose is to provide an education based on mother tongue teaching for the children of officials of the EU institutions and its agencies. There are 14 schools in various countries across Europe. The Government are committed to the future of the European Schools and fulfils their obligations under the 1994 Convention Defining the Statute of the European Schools through its membership of the governing body. The United Kingdom has one school in Culham in Oxfordshire. It was established in the late 1970s to support the employees of the EFDA-JET project based at Culham Laboratories.

At its meeting in April 2007 in Lisbon, the European Schools’ Board of Governors took a decision to allow Culham School to leave the European Schools system because it no longer has enough pupils entitled to an education under the provisions of the intergovernmental agreement. The decision allows Culham to stay in the system until at least 2010, but its transition into either the state or private sector must be completed by 2017. The EFDA decision to phase out its project at Culham and move the remaining work to its other base in France has contributed to this decision.

It is too early to say exactly what the future holds for Culham School, but my officials are working in support of the parents and management of the school to ensure a smooth transition.