Scottish Pupils as EU Politicians

Articulate has recently been given the great opportunity and honour of organising biannual trips to Strasbourg, bringing Scottish pupils to take part in the outstanding, prestigious Euroscola programme. We support Glasgow City Council and Rotary International to run successful programmes which allow students from across the country to become EU politicians for a day. Euroscola brings young people together from all over Europe to debate the issues facing young people today across the continent in both French and English. It’s a unique chance for students in their final year of secondary school to not only practise the French language, but also to develop an understanding of the EU as a political institution and discuss issues which affect them as young Europeans today.

At the parliament

How does the programme work?

Currently, each of the 28 EU member states is given a number of invites every year for their students aged between 16 and 18 to attend the Euroscola day in Strasbourg. Scotland has the chance to attend that day twice each year and has been making the most of this opportunity for more than 20 years. While lots of groups from other countries come just for the day in the parliament, we help to organise a full 5-day multilingual and multicultural experience in Strasbourg.

On the Euroscola day, the programme begins with students from across Europe eating breakfast together before moving into the grand, impressive hemicycle. They are welcomed to the parliament by officials and then representatives of each school or group attending introduce their schools. Each country’s school must do this in a language which is not their native language which instantly created a multilingual feel to the day. It is so interesting to see photos from the schools and hear about how they learn in their countries.

The students then get the chance to pose questions to a panel of European representatives which often includes MEPs. On our last visit, immigration, Brexit and studying abroad were hot topics! After lunch and the ‘euroquiz’ which encourages young people to meet and work together, the students split into pre-arranged discussion groups where they debate on their chosen topic. Students can put themselves forward to chair these discussions or to report back to in the hemicycle later in the afternoon. When the students report back on their debates, it is so interesting to hear their differing viewpoints and what they propose to do to combat climate change or to increase security, to name just two examples. It is amazing to see such multilingual, articulate young people as the future represent the future of our nations.

Presenting to the EU

What else do we do on the visit?

In order to make the most of this opportunity, we also build a programme around the Euroscola day to help pupils build their confidence in speaking French, using it for real communication, and learn about the stunning multicultural town of Strasbourg. From a street survey where participants find out how the French view Scotland and the EU, to visiting the stunning old district of Strasbourg called ‘la Petite France’ by night, the trip is packed with inspiring activities. One activity, le défi de Strasbourg, even challenges students to create a French documentary showing Strasbourg in a particular light.

Exploring Strasbourg

How do pupils benefit from the experience?

I myself attended the programme as a student in 2007 and can honestly say it convinced me to pursue a career with foreign languages. I remember being so inspired by the interpreters around the hemicycle who were simultaneously translating what was being said in several foreign languages. I remember being overwhelmed by the ease with which young people from across Europe could find common ground and discuss issues affecting us all. It was an experience I remember vividly to this day and it is incredible to now be part of the programme as an adult.

On Wednesday evening, we attended the civic reception for the Glasgow City Council pupils who attended our last visit in October with us. It was great to speak with them and hear how they reflected so positively on their experience one month on. At the event, we even heard from a former participant of Euroscola, Declan McLean, who is now studying French and Law at Strathclyde university. He spoke about how learning languages and his experiences at Euroscola had opened doors for him and helped him think on an international level. We were so impressed with this young man’s passion and love for what he has chosen as his career path.

There is no doubt that this inclusive, inspiring programme has a positive impact on so many young lives.

Former pupil presenting in Glasgow City Chambers

How can you get involved in Euroscola?

Applications are made across the country through schools and places can even be fully sponsored by Rotary clubs – an amazing opportunity. Pupils must be in their final year of secondary education, have a Higher French, and be studying towards an Advanced Higher French qualification. For more information on the programme, you can visit their website here.

We are already looking forward to leading the next visit in February to help inspire the next generation of linguists and politicians.

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