History of the ALA-ELP Association and the English National Programme

In April 1973 the French authorities organised a colloquium at the Centre for Pedagogical Studies in Sèvres on the schooling of members of CERN personnel (following the decision to locate the CERN SPS accelerator on French soil). This led to the creation of the International Lycée in Ferney Voltaire, with an associated International Primary Programme. There was no ALA-ELP Association at this time; indeed it was not needed because the British Government agreed to finance the programme as an integral part of establishing proper conditions for the British staff working at CERN. The British Government withdrew its backing in 1978 and ALA-ELP was founded using the famous 1901 law under which all French non profit associations exist to keep the Programme alive, by charging parents in order to pay the teachers' salaries and the running costs. During the ensuing period of uncertainty, CERN provided stability by signing agreements to act as financial intermediary and to hire the teaching staff.

 Meanwhile the French Ministry of Education created a unified legal status for the various international lycées in France by defining in texts published in 1981 how 'International Sections'  would operate within such lycées. The texts stated that such sections would either be financed by partner countries, or, if this was impossible, by parents’ associations operating under the 1901 law. Since the international sections at Ferney-Voltaire existed before these texts, they remained ‘programmes’, and were not renamed ‘sections’.

In 1993, CERN decided that the Association was mature enough to take over. A ‘Convention’ was negotiated between the Association and the Lycée, and new contracts with the teaching staff were drawn up and signed with ALA-ELP as their direct employer. The Lycée continued to handle all salary and Social Security payments for the English National Programme staff, the Association being billed to cover this.

In 1998, the Association was informed that, as the English National Programme was a private Association controlling private funds, the Lycée's accountant did not legally have the right to pay salaries to the English National teachers. The situation was not in conformity with French law. Hence the Committee was obliged to take over this responsibility in January 1999, employing an accounting firm to prepare the salary and Social Security payment slips.

CERN continued to support the Association until 2003 with an advance to pay salaries at the beginning of the year, before the fees were collected. CERN still has a seat on the Governing Board of the Lycée to defend the interests of CERN generally, and of the national programmes in particular.

The ALA-ELP Association has a duty to look beyond today (the needs of our own children who are currently enrolled in the Programme) and to assess and defend the English National Programme in a broader perspective within France and Europe, and even beyond.

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