180 Working Days for Pupils

Primary Interlocutor: PedGroup

In February 2018, the APEEE approved a position paper asking the school to honor the 180-working-day rule found in Annex I of the General Rules of the European Schools (ref. 2014-03-D-14 v.10 EN / FR / DE). The rule, stating that the school year in all European Schools “must consist of 180 working days for the pupils”, has not been respected for EEBI’s S1-S6 pupils in recent years. Instead, the school has organised between 171 and 174 working days for the S1-S6 students in the school years 2016/2017, 2017/2018, 2018/2019 and 2019/2020. The APEEE argues that all EEBI pupils should be offered 180 working days (jours de cours) each year by the school in accordance with the European School rules.

BAC Oral Period: The Board of Governors grants the European Schools the possibility of suspending lessons in the secondary cycle during the days required for the BAC oral examinations at the end of the school year and replacing the normal lessons with replacement activities. The Board of Governors recommends that such replacement activities are planned a sufficiently long time in advance, so as to improve the quality of what is offered and to make them compulsory, if necessary, for pupils who register to participate in them, in order to avoid absenteeism and security problems. Based on the detailed planning of the 2019 Bac oral exams (which the EEB1 director shared with the APEEE upon request), it was established that 5-15 secondary teachers per day (out of a total of 200+ secondary teachers) are occupied by the BAC oral examinations. Hence, a sufficient number of secondary teachers (93-98% of them) are de facto available for either normal teaching or pedagogical replacement activities.

Class Councils: Class Councils (as well as all other School Council meetings) “shall meet outside school hours” according to Article 17 in the General Rules. Thus the EEBI practice of organising secondary Class Councils and other Council meetings during school hours at the end of the school year is not in line with the rules. If such end-of-year meetings are held after school hours, this also helps ensure that a sufficient number of secondary teachers are available to carry out replacement activities for the S1-S6 pupils during the BAC oral examinations.

The issue took on new meaning in May and June 2021 with the release of an end-of-year calendar in the four Brussels schools which violated the 180 rule. A series of communications was exchanged between the APEEE, the EEBI direction, the Secretary-General, the Commission's DGHR, and the Parliamentary CULT Committee. While we did not achieved a concrete result in this case, we nevertheless believe that the willingness of key stakeholders such as the Commission and the European Parliament to become actively involved is an important development.

APEEE Position

APEEE's position concerning the school year and the 180-day rule is as follows:

  1. If and when the school uses the possibility of suspending S1-S6 lessons during the days required for the BAC oral examinations, the school should offer replacement activities for the S1-S6 pupils as foreseen by the Board of Governors. The replacement activities should be planned a sufficiently long time in advance, so as to improve the quality of what is offered and to make the activities compulsory, if necessary, for pupils who register to participate in them, in order to avoid absenteeism and security problems.
  2. Replacements activities for S1-S6 pupils during the oral BAC examinations that would qualify as “working days for the pupils” in line with the curriculum could include inter alia school trips, excursions, workshops and (for S5-S6 pupils) work experience placements. (Workshops could be organised on relevant issues that the school certify as part of the curriculum, for example creative writing, debate, coding, science/tech projects, art/music etc.) The replacement activities should be of educational/pedagogical nature and with concrete links to the school curriculum. No “garderie” style activities.
  3. In order for the school to be able to organise replacement activities, secondary Class Councils and other Council meetings at the end of the school year should not take place during school hours in line with Article 17 of the General Rules.
  4. The APEEE considers that the EEBI school management is responsible for organising the school year in full compliance with the formal rules applicable to all the European Schools, including the provision that the school year must consist of 180 working days (jours de cours) for the pupils. The parents will not dictate how to organise the school year in order to ensure that 180 working days (jours de cours) for the pupils are effectively delivered. The APEEE trusts that the school management – in close cooperation with its competent faculty of teachers – is best placed to decide on the practical organisation of the school year.

Supporting Documents

APEEE: Position Paper on 180 Working Days for the Pupils (February 2018)
Board of Governors: Report of the Lessons lost during the European Baccalaureate Orals Working Group (2006-D-2810-EN-2; January 2007)
EEBI: S1-S6 Program During 2019 Oral Bac Exams
EEBI: Data on Teachers Available during Bac Orals 2019 (July 2019)
APEEE: APEEE President Letter to Director on Proposed Half Days of School in June 2021 (20 April 2021)
APEEE: Letter to DGHR on Proposed Half Days of School in June 2021 (14 May 2021)
APEEE: Letter to OSGES on Proposed Half Days of School in June 2021 (14 May 2021)
EP CULT Committee: Letter from CULT Committee Chair Sabine Verheyen to the Secretary General of the European Schools - European Schools, follow-up to exchange of views and recent events (28 May 2021)
OSGES: Letter from Secretary-General Giancarlo Marcheggiano to the EEBI and EEBII APEEEs - Organisation of the end of the school year in the Brussels European Schools (2021-06-L-5; 15 June 2021)
Commission DGHR: Letter from Director-General Gertrud Ingestad to the EEBI and EEBII APEEEs - Proposed Half Days of European Schools in June 2021 (21 June 2021)

See also: Pedagogical Working Group (PedGroup)

Last update: 11/07/2021