On Tuesday 19 November, just before 5pm, in the presence of the French Representative Office in Taipei, Mr Gilles Almosnino, the head of the Aefe Asia-Pacific zone, and our CEO, David Gatley signed a new version of the partnership agreement between TES and the AEFE.
The previous version, signed in 2011, needed to be updated because it defined the relationship between the AEFE and the French Section Management Council, an entity whose role was modified by TES at the start of the last school year. In the interim, there was plenty of to-ing and fro-ing between legal departments who sought to ensure that both parties’ methods of operation were respected within a legal framework where everyone’s responsibilities, rights and duties were clearly defined.
A partnership agreement is the most popular agreement in the AEFE network. 295 of the 522 schools in the network have the same partner status as we do. The partnership agreement grants our school a certain number of crucial privileges. It allows us to recruit qualified teachers on secondment from the French Ministry of Education. It allows those same teachers attend training seminars and conferences run by the French educational authorities. Moreover, the partnership agreement permits some of our French families to qualify for financial aid from the state in the form of grants. Above all, it guarantees and reinforces the fact that we teach the French National Curriculum in our classes; the AEFE assesses us annually on our adherence to that curriculum.
You hear it said often enough that TES is unique school, and it is in many ways, which is why the AEFE and the French Office insisted on the addition of a number of points that don’t appear in other school’s partnership agreements. Aside from the advantages listed above, and given the very particular context of our school, some ad hoc rules have been established: for example the method of recruitment of future heads of the French Section, and also the definition of the new role of the French Section Management Council.
The agreement does not answer every procedural question there is, but that is not the objective. Instead, it provides a framework within which our French Section – with its mission to provide a public service – and TES – an independent foundation that follows Taiwanese laws – can collaborate efficiently for the benefit of our students. To that end, other topics that are touched on include: the student numbers required in order to ensure the sustainability of our Lycée (high school) year groups and the French national exams, and the thorny issue of school fees, which are normally fixed by the school management (TES), but which the AEFE and the French office don’t want to see them go through the roof.
The signing of the agreement does not mean all our problems will be solved from one day to the next. For example, there is no mention of the place of infant ECAs in our school! Nor does it provide answers to the questions that parents continually ask about the level of French in our classrooms, no matter how many times we show them all of the objective results we have at our disposal that prove our students are excelling academically. On that last point, only we can give you the answers to your questions, no partnership agreement can do that. It will be the theme of my letter next week.