The European School Culham is a unique centre of excellence delivering a European primary and secondary curriculum in a multilingual and multicultural learning environment. Children acquire literacy not only in their mother tongue or dominant language but also in one of three vehicular languages: English, French or German. According to a recent PISA school based pilot study in 2012, ES Culham pupils perform significantly above the UK average in reading, mathematics and science. The OECD PISA study also shows our pupls and students exceeding the attainment of counterparts in similar UK schools in the private and independent sector and, internationally, competing well with children in the top schools of Shanghai which rated very highly in the 2009 PISA study.
The school campus is nestled in a large meander of the River Thames near Abingdon only ten miles from the historic and beautiful university city of Oxford. Much of the school is housed in charming listed buildings erected in 1852 as a Church of England teacher training college. Its founder was Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford and third son of Sir William Wilberforce, the famous slavery abolitionist.
The school has approximately 680 pupils, spread over 11 year groups. Consequently, pupils benefit enormously from small scale education within a very closely knit school community, organised in Language Sections, which is very supportive, both academically and pastorally. This may provide one reason why ES Culham has consistently achieved a near 100% pass-rate in the European Baccalaureate over years and also scored one of the highest Baccalaureate average of all the other European Schools.
Second Languages: From Primary to Secondary School
The Primary and Secondary Schools have three language sections: English, French and German. Pupils whose first language is not one of these may be considered for admission to one of these sections.
All pupils from Year 2 Primary onwards are taught a second language, which may be English, French or German.
After the 5-year Primary courses, pupils may be admitted to the Secondary School, the 7-year course of which leads to the European Baccalaureate, a recognized qualification for admission to Universities throughout Europe. The course includes, from Year 2, a third language and, from Year 3, certain subjects studied in the second language. A fourth language may be studied as an option from Year 4 onwards.
Future of the School beyond 2017
The school’s intergovernmental Board of Governors took the decision in 2007 to phase out the school as a Type 1 European School by 2017. This has to happen because for years the school has had insufficient numbers of children of parents either working for the European Commission or seconded by it to work at the Joint European Torus nuclear fusion project established over 30 years ago at the Culham Science Centre. As such, the European Union is no longer able to continue subsidising the education at the school. As a consequence of this phased closure, children born after 31st December 2005 cannot be considered for admission to ES Culham.
Europa School UK
The Europa School UK opened in September 2012 sharing the Culham campus with the European School. The aim of Europa School UK is to provide European schooling initially for those children now too young to be considered for admission to the phasing out European School and to continue European Schools education for those pupils still at the school in 2017. For more information on 'Europa School UK', please visit http://www.europaschooluk.org/ .