Around half the teachers at Luxembourg's European Schools are seconded, with the remainder recruited locally “due to a lack of secondments”
Parents have launched a petition amid concerns that Luxembourg’s European Schools are struggling to recruit and retain teachers, be they local or seconded.
The petition from parents associations at European Schools 1 and 2 supports proposals drawn up during working group meetings between the parents associations and directors of both schools in 2018.
The proposals call to:
Put in place an “additional special allowance” of a fixed amount for seconded teachers;
Modify the regulations for seconded staff to allow prolongation of the maximum duration of their contract by 3 years (rather than 1 year as is currently the case) in exceptional cases;
Align the salary of locally recruited staff to the current salary in place for staff in the national public schools;
Allow schools the possibility of offering indefinite contracts from the start (with a probation period of 1 year);
Create a number of "protected" posts which will not be published for secondment for functions which require English native speakers;
Create “middle management functions” open to locally recruited teachers.
Teachers in the Luxembourg public school system are among the highest paid in the world. 2017 OECD data shows that at primary, teachers with 15 years’ experience can earn $102,505, while at upper secondary, earnings rise to $109,734. Seconded teachers at European schools, however, receive salaries in line with what they would be paid in their home country, a sum often considerably lower than that needed for a decent standard of living in Luxembourg.
“It is becoming/has become increasingly difficult for the two schools to attract and retain locally recruited teachers given that the salary and contractual conditions are less favourable when compared to those in other schools in Luxembourg,” the petitioners writes, adding that the high cost of living in Luxembourg makes it less attractive for seconded teachers, who are posted on a domestic salary from their home country.
European schools are established on the basis that all teachers are seconded from member countries. According to John Coughlan, president of Apeeel1, the parent association at the European School 1 in Kirchberg, around half the teachers at both schools are seconded, with the remainder recruited locally “due to a lack of secondments”.
He explained that the worst affected language sections were the largest, including English, French and German, because potential candidates are more likely attracted to work for the public schools where they can earn on average up to 40% more and benefit from greater job security (locally-recruited teachers work on short-term contracts). Coughlan said ultimately it ends up impacting all students “because in secondary their second language (English, French or German) is gradually used as the main language for teaching most subjects.”
To bring seconded teacher salaries in line with Luxembourg standards, there is a proposal calling for a €1,000 supplement, on top of their national salaries, to cover the high cost of living in Luxembourg.
“We are asking for their salaries and conditions to be aligned as closely as possible with local state schools (in whichever country the school is located) in order to level the playing field,” Coughlan said. He estimates the measure would cost €7million but said any less would not be enough to ensure the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers.
According to research by the parent associations, around 37 teachers left the schools over the past three years. Coughlan added that finding replacements was particularly problematic when the departure occurred in the course of the school year.
The petition closes on 4 April. The proposals are expected to be discussed at the next Board of Governors meeting scheduled for 9-12 April 2019.