|Incredibly interesting and
useful, said one teacher on the way back. Amazingly well organised, and a
great informative and fun experience, noted another after an intensive two days. A
group of 22 teachers from all over West Sussex, together with members of County Council
advisory staff, had been to Brussels for two days to visit European Union institutions and
find out how Europe works.
These were teachers who are responsible for teaching Citizenship, the part of the school
curriculum which includes an understanding of Europe and the role of the EU.
The Sussex European Movement suggested and organised the trip on 15-16 July in partnership
with the citizenship teacher advisers from the West Sussex Healthy Schools Team. They were
led by Anita Haigh from the Healthy Schools Team, assisted by Pandora Ellis, the European
Youth Ambassadors Coordinator. The event was jointly funded by the European Movement UK
Education Fund and by the European Parliament.
Consilium of the European Union
Gathering in the foyer of the Justus Lipsius building
Young people need to make their
|One of the aims of the
European Movement is to help UK citizens understand how to engage with the European Union.
Sarah Leigh, chairman of the Sussex Branch, who lives in Steyning, said this was a
huge effort by everyone concerned but Ive been told by all the teachers what a great
help it was in understanding Europe. Personally Im a big fan of the European project
but I dont care really whether teachers like it or not. The point is, we want them
to understand how the EU works, how it interacts with British government institutions.
Something like 70% of British legislation originates in Brussels. We all need to know how
to work with our European partners on the problems of tomorrow, such as globalisation,
terrorism, climate change. British young people should be ready to take advantage of the
many ways they can interact with the EU and make their views known.
|| There was one special piece of
good luck our visit happened to coincide with the start of the consultation process
on an issue which greatly concerns many of the teachers involved. This was the question of
how migrant children from the EU and beyond manage to get on in the schools of their new
host country. The provision of education is not a matter for the EU, but it does provide
advice and support in this area. In West Sussex quite a number of schools have recently
had to absorb large numbers of pupils from central Europe. It so happens that the European
Commission now sees this as a priority and has just published a Green Paper asking for
responses on the question they are certainly going to get some from
Centre of the European Commission
for the initial briefing
Outside the European Parliament
The visit to Brussels was in fact a two-day intensive conference.
The group visited and heard talks from the European Commission, The Centre (a think tank
and lobbying firm, much concerned with communicating within Europe), the Council of the
European Union, the UK Permanent Representation to the EU, and the European Parliament.
Visiting the Parliament building they met three MEPs, Richard Ashworth, Peter Skinner and
Claude Moraes. Everyone got back home to Sussex late at night absolutely exhausted, but
the teachers said they had gained a lot of insight into the EU and how it worked.
Richard Ashworth MEP talks to the group