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EU education systems analysed in the European Semester – strengths and challenges after PISA

The 27 country reports published 23 of February 2017 track the progress made by EU Member States towards Europe 2020 targets and the dual goal of growth and jobs.

Following the recently published PISA 2015 results, which showed a decline in science, reading and mathsskills compared to PISA 2012 across the EU as a whole, these reports shine a light on both

challenges and strengths of the education systems and how they affect the labour market and the economy of individual Member States. In education, the Commission analysed the extent to which the skills produced by education systems are in line with labour market needs and how they contribute to competitiveness and innovation potential of the countries. It also focused on measures to reduce the numbers of early school leavers and to increase the share of graduates from tertiary education.

In the wake of PISA, there is a particularly strong focus on low educational performance – the frequently widening performance gap between low achievers and the rest, the very clear socio-economic basis for this gap and the particular challenges faced by pupils from a migrant background.

The European Semester is the EU's annual cycle of economic policy coordination. Every year, the Commission undertakes a detailed analysis of EU countries' budgetary, macroeconomic and structural policies as a basis for issuing recommendations on key policy priorities for each country. The recommendations will be published by the Commission in May 2017 and officially adopted by the Council in July 2017.

New report on Structural Indicators for Inclusive Systems in and around Schools

Inclusion in education, viewed more comprehensively as inclusive systems in and around schools, concentrates on supportive, quality learning environments, on welcoming and caring schools and classrooms, and on preventing discrimination.

It addresses the needs of students in a holistic way (their emotional, physical, cognitive and social needs), and recognises their individual talents and voices. It is open to the voices and active participation of parents, and also wider multidisciplinary teams and agencies.

In order to improve social inclusion in education and society, school systems need to change. Policy-makers and school actors require practical tools to assist them in this process, made all the more urgent by the EU2020 headline target to reduce early school leaving.

This report develops such practical tools; it is designed to inform strategic policy and practice by offering an innovative framework of structural indicators for improving inclusion in school. It draws upon key European Council and Commission policy documents on early school leaving prevention, and also on the 2015 Paris Declaration on promoting citizenship and common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education, which includes a focus on social marginalization.

Have your say on education in Europe!

Take part in the consultation on key competences for lifelong learning and help develop quality, future-oriented education and training policies for the EU.

The consultation, which runs until 19/05, is open to all, particularly individuals, organizations, and policy-makers active in the field of education. More information is available on the consultation page.

The focus of the consultation is on the 2006 Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning, which identified eight main skills as essential for personal development, active citizenship, social inclusion and employment.

The consultation is part of a wider review of the Recommendation which began in 2016 and will be completed at the end of 2017 with the release of a revised key competences framework.

The results will be published in June 2017 on the webpage of the consultation.

The graphic was taken from the Key Competence Network on School Education's Recommendations for the Integration of 21st Century Competences in School.

School leadership for equity and learning: take it to the students

A week of education-related events under Maltese EU Presidency was kicked off with a Conference on School leadership and equity in St. Julian's, Malta, on 16-17 January 2017. Linked to the Presidency theme of equity and inclusiveness, the purpose of the event was to explore how leadership - by school heads, but also by teachers and other staff - can contribute to making schools more equitable and inclusive.

Opening the conference, Malta's Minister for Education and Employment, Hon. Evarist Bartolo, pointed to the threat of formal education becoming obsolete if it does not connect with realities of society and the economy, and to the crucial role of collaborative school leadership in addressing this issue.

The conference drew strongly on the work of the European Policy Network on School Leadership (EPNoSL), an expert forum supported through the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme from 2011 to 2015. An audience of researchers, practitioners and policy makers from across Europe and from Malta discussed policy approaches to the professional development of school leaders, the link between leadership and pedagogy, and the role of school leadership in linking schools with their local communities. Looking at the role of school leadership for the inclusion of newly arrived migrants, participants warned that low expectations often have a negative impact on their inclusion and performance.

Conference participants also heard powerful testimonials from pupils, parents, teachers and school leaders from Malta who shared their views on what, for them, constitutes educational success and inclusivity at school. Students underlined the role of their peers in establishing a sense of belonging and feeling of being included, as well as the relevance of what is learned for life outside school. Teachers and school leaders referred to the need for team approaches among staff and partnerships with parents. More information is available on the Maltese EU presidency website.


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