Reasons to love the European School Heraklion #3

#3 It is not elitist

I’ve heard it said that the European School in Heraklion is elitist. Only someone who didn’t know the school could say this. The fact is that it is a state school, run by the Greek government. It changes no fees and does not select by academic ability. (This isn’t to say that its admissions policy is perfect; I will say more about this another time.)

Moreover, as anyone who has visited the school will know, it is not well-funded or lavishly equipped. Quite the opposite in fact; it is a continual struggle for managers, teachers, and parents to make ends meet.

The idea that it is elitist probably comes from a misunderstanding of what kind of European School it is.

There are two basic types of European School. Those of the first type are for children of employees of European Union institutions and diplomatic services. They are run directly by the European Schools intergovernmental organization and they are well-funded. Rightly or wrongly, some people regard these schools as elitist, since free admission is limited to children of EU staff, and other parents pay high fees.

But there is a second type of European school. In recent years the European Schools organization has encouraged the creation of accredited schools, which follow the European Schools curriculum but are funded and administered by national governments. At present, there are twelve of these Accredited European Schools and more are planned. These schools make a European Schools education open to a much wider range of pupils, regardless of their parents’ job or ability to pay. The school in Heraklion is of this second kind.

So I firmly deny that our school is elitist. Except perhaps in one sense. It is a school where children belong to a welcoming and diverse community, where they are taught by gifted and committed teachers from many backgrounds, and where learning is stimulating and fun. It may not be a rich school but it is (as the European Schools inspectors themselves) a school with heart. In that respect, its pupils are indeed privileged.

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