The European Baccalaureate (EB) is the school-leaving examination for students who attend one of the European Schools. There are currently around 24,000 students in the system as a whole, and approximately 1500 students take the final examination each year. These numbers are growing annually as the system expands. The European Schools were established to educate the children of parents working in European Union institutions. A broad curriculum is followed throughout the secondary phase, with a particular feature being the fact that students take subjects such as history, geography and human science in their second language from Year 3. Although the schools are open to the whole ability range, children must pass each year, meeting clear academic criteria. If not they must repeat the year, and ultimately leave the school if they fail the same year twice. The European Schools have high academic standards, with motivated students and supportive parents.
The EB is officially recognised by treaty as an entry qualification for Higher Education in all the countries of the European Union, as well as many others. As a result, European School students go on to University all over Europe and beyond. The Examining Board, which oversees the examinations in all language sections, is chaired by a university professor, and is composed of examiners from countries of the Union. They are appointed annually by the Board of Governors and must meet the requirements laid down in their home countries for appointment to examining boards of the same level. The close scrutiny of the Examining Board, which demands double assessment of the final written and oral examinations, guarantees the high level and quality of the Baccalaureate.
The EB is a demanding examination where students must study 10 or 11 subjects. Students are required to study their own language, at least one foreign language to a high level, history and geography in that language, mathematics, at least one science subject, philosophy, physical education and ethics. They must add elective courses to this, for example more sciences and languages, or the same subjects at a higher level. This means that despite the large compulsory element in the EB, students are able to build up a programme which reflects their particular interests and strengths. The EB Diploma is based on performance in the final year.
To obtain the EB a student must obtain a minimum of 60% overall, and in theory scores can range up to 100%. A mark out of 10 is also awarded for each individual subject. Students therefore have to be able to perform well across a wide range of academic subjects to obtain a good overall score in the EB.