In the school-year 2011/12, 59 Irish teachers (26 primary and 33 post-primary) were on secondment from their schools in Ireland and teaching in European Schools. Any variation in that number from year to year is small. The European Schools are a system of 14 nursery, primary and secondary schools established and maintained by the European Union and its Member States.
The schools serve the needs of children whose parents are officials of the EU Commission, European Parliament and other official European institutions. The schools have been established by an intergovernmental treaty — the Convention of the European Schools — to which Ireland is a signatory.
The Department is committed to fulfilling its obligations under the Convention of the European Schools. It supports the operation of the schools by arranging for the transfer of teachers from Ireland to fill teaching positions in the European Schools and by funding replacement teachers in schools in Ireland.
European posts are advertised and applications sought from interested teachers. Selection is by interview. Secondment is for a maximum of nine years.
While they are on secondment, the salaries of the teachers are paid by the Department and supplemented by the Central Office of European Schools. Such teachers also receive an additional salary payment from the European Union Office of European schools. Allowances to cover various expenses are also payable. On completion of their service in the European Schools, the teachers return to their schools in Ireland, although an Irish base school can recall a teacher before that, if it wants to. Throughout the period of secondment, the Department also pays for temporary replacement teachers.
The cost to the Department in 2011 was €16,000, comprising costs of advertising, interviewing, taster visits to the schools by the teachers and a guidance service. It is expected that the cost to the Department in 2012 will be in the region of €25,000.
The arrangements for such secondment are set out at length in Departmental circular 0009/2007, which can be found on the website of my Department.