ET2020 Working Group on School Policy – Brussels, 15 December 2014

What are Working Groups?

As part of the Education and Training 2020 (ET2020) Open Method of Coordination, the Commission and Member States cooperate in the form of Working Groups. Working Groups are designed to help Member States address the key challenges of their education and training systems, as well as common priorities agreed at European Level.

The primary focus of the Working Groups is to benefit the Member States in the work of furthering policy development through mutual learning and the identification of good practices. Following their mandate, Working Groups must deliver outputs directly linked to the objectives of ET2020 and contribute to Europe 2020.

What has been done so far?

The ET 2020 Working Groups  rely on the work conducted by eleven Thematic Working Groups between 2011 and 2013. These groups concerned:

  • Primary and Secondary Education
  • Higher Education
  • Adult Learning
  • Vocational Education and Training
  • Transversal Key Competencies.

Each ET2020 Working Group has a specific mandate detailing the challenges the group needs ot address, the outputs to achieve, and the overall roadmap. To achieve this, more than 400 experts participate in peer-learning activities, such as country-focused workshops and webinars.

School policy

Building on the results of two previous Thematic Working Groups on Teacher Professional Development and Early school leaving, the group (see the mandatepdf(375 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  and work programmepdf(431 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  ) will look at:

  • ways to improve the effectiveness and quality of teacher education, with a view to equipping teachers with the competences required in changing work environments (see background note on Initial Teacher educationpdf(868 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  );
  • the collaborative approaches inside and around the schools that can support schools in their ambitions to provide educational success for all, and prevent and reduce early school leaving (see the background notepdf(379 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  and the final reportpdf(560 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  on the case study on Belgium-Flanders and the city of Antwerp).

The group is composed of government representatives of nearly all Member States plus Norway, Liechtenstein, Serbia and Turkey, and of European social partners. By the end of 2015, the group is expected to deliver a “Next practice guide on improving Initial Teacher Education”. On ESL the group is expected to deliver a “Guidance Framework” and a “toolkit” for schools on collaborative practices to reduce ESL.

How does SIRIUS engage with the Working Group on School Policy?

Experts from the SIRIUS Network will be attending the upcoming meeting of the Working Group on School Policy in order to give their input on various aspects of school policy:

  • Plenary session – Setting the scene: Education of Migrant and Minority Students
  • Workshop 1 – Early School Leaving and Community Intervention
  • Workshop 2 – Teacher Capacity and Multilingualism

Their input will be used in developing the above-mentioned framework and toolkit on collaborative practices to reduce ESL.

via ET 2020 Working Groups – European Commission

Education and Training Monitor 2014 now available

ETM2014The third annual edition of the Education and Training Monitor charts the evolution of education and training systems across Europe. It brings together, in a concise, digestible way, the latest quantitative and qualitative data, recent technical reports and studies, plus policy documents and developments.

While focused on empirical evidence, each section in the Monitor has clear policy messages for the Member States.

The Education and Training Monitor 2014 supports the implementation of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020) by strengthening the evidence-base and by linking it more closely to the broader Europe 2020 strategy and the country-specific recommendations (CSRs) adopted by the Council as part of the 2014 European Semester.

On its official website, the Education and Training Monitor 2014  is accompanied by twenty-eight country reports, as well as a visualisation tool to evaluate the performance and progress of the Member States in relation to the ET 2020 targets.

Via European Commission

Some highlights of the Education and Training Monitor 2014 

Education has to live up to its potential to level the playing field, to avoid proactively any form of discrimination and social exclusion, and to provide chances for all learners. Socio-economic and socio-cultural inequalities continue to impact negatively upon educational outcomes. Parental education attainment still determines to a large extent one’s own education attainment and new evidence suggests that intergenerational education mobility is actually slowing down in the industrialised world. Ten countries received CSRs to focus on disadvantaged learners in particular (AT, BG, CZ, DE, DK, HU, LU, RO, SE and SK). Although tackling educational disadvantage is complex and requires wide-ranging, integrated strategies, Member States cannot afford to ignore these challenges. (p.28)


Reducing the number of early school leavers will save Europe large  public and social costs and protect the individual  for a high risk of poverty and social exclusion. There are still more than five million early school leavers across Europe, facing an unemployment rate of 41%. As Europe gets closer to the EU2020 headline target, 12.0% in 2013,  it becomes increasingly visible what  a complex, multifaceted problem early school leaving is. A slow but steady progress is hiding significant disparities between but also within countries. The risk of early school leaving is 33.3% higher amongst men; more than twice as high for foreign-born; no less than 156.1% higher for those suffering  physical difficulties; and more than three times as high in bottom-performing regions than in top-performing regions in BG, CZ, PL, ES, UK and BE. (p.34)
etm2014_tertiary attainment

In higher education, broadening access and reducing dropout rates amongst disadvantaged groups remains challenging. The rate of tertiary education attainment in Europe has steadily grown to 36.9%, yet high-qualified employment is forecasted to have increased a further 13% by 2020. Moreover, the persisting disparities between and within countries leave no room for complacency. The rate of tertiary education attainment is 26% higher amongst women; about 10% higher for native-born; 62.4% lower for individuals suffering physical difficulties; and in CZ, RO and SK, bottom-performing regions have attainment rates that are at least 60% lower than those found in top-performing regions. Only a handful of countries strive to widen participation and boost completion rates amongst disadvantaged groups. (p.41)


Mentoring in Education -Stakeholder meeting report

supreme mentoringThe final SIRIUS stakeholder meeting, this time focusing on mentoring, took place in association with the final conference of the SUPREME mentoring project on 27 October 2014 in the Neth-ER offices in Brussels. The SUPREME project has been developed by a partnership where VET and SME associations, as well as policy makers, work together to increase the cooperation between VETs and the world of work. The objective of the conference was to:

  • Learn about good practices in the field of preventing early school leaving and youth unemployment
  • Experience how mentoring binds education and industry on a European level
  • Explore state of the art mentoring results in European countries
  • Involve decision makers in order to secure the mentor methodology and the cooperation of industry and education in Europe

photo 3SUPREME members gave examples of their work from around Europe, with a focus on the importance of exchange of good practices that are adaptable to the cultural conditions of each country. Developing links between industry, welfare, education and policy makers is also important in order to get the most out of mentoring for all involved.

Thomas Huddleston (Migration Policy Group) spoke during the plenary session on The added value of European cooperation in mentoring, to serve migrant youth and highlighted the importance of mentors as role models that give positive images, confidence, cognitive gains, social skills and networking connections to their mentees. Inclusive education can be developed by involving all local communities (including immigrant ones) and sharing lessons learned for EU cooperation and policy recommendations.  He underlined the importance of mentoring for migrant pupils who are particularly affected by early school leaving, youth unemployment and over representation on technical or lower quality tracks, despite the high educational ambitions of both pupils and parents. Innovative outside-school learning through mentorships offers these children and their families improved knowledge of schooling, orientation for pupils and parents, often from mentors with a similar language and cultural background which allows them to address socio-emotional problems. He noted that there was a striking discrepancy between the popularity of mentoring on the ground and the lack of engagement on the topic on a policy level, whereby mentoring programmes are seen as “nice-to-have” but not “need to have”. Mentoring programmes should be recognised as helping educators to diagnose problems or missing services in schools, and can offer necessary support to develop the potential of their students. His recommendations summarised the ENESP Handbook on Mentoring and the SIRIUS Policy Brief on Mentoring and include the following:

  • Mentoring should be considered as an effective hands-on tool to reduce the achievement gap with little legislative or financial effort.
  • There is a clear role for mentors and the competences they need, but they should not be considered a substitute for social workers/therapy.
  • Mentoring programmes should be available for all pupils in less supportive environments, including high potential, not only ‘at risk’ learners.
  • There needs to be secure long-term funding beyond project cycles to ensure training and use of dedicated mentors, perhaps through ‘embedding’ projects within school system or well-established education or migrant organisations.
  • Mentoring needs to be an integral part of policymaking in education and in promoting education outside the classroom to strengthen social skills.
  • Closer cooperation with migrant-led mentoring programmes will allow non-migrant policymakers a better understanding of the needs and situation of pupils, parents, and communities, while also fostering good relationships with school, teachers and staff.
  • It is important to monitor and address equal participation of immigrant youth in mentoring schemes, not only as mentees but also mentors.

Logo-ENESP-300x74Ibrahim Elmaagac, General Coordinator of the Dutch Platform for Education, Innovation and Talent Development (NPOINT) participated on behalf of the European Network for Educational Support Projects (ENESP) in order to give practical examples of how they engage with students from an intercultural or socially disadvantaged background. NPOINT do this by assisting pupils in their studies to prevent them from falling behind, as well as helping them to explore their interests and find a course that suits their talents. Rather than measuring their abilities only through coursework and outcomes, they encourage a learner-focus on personal development and personal happiness.

mentoring handbook

Sarah Cooke O’Dowd (Migration Policy Group), together with Huddleston and Elmaagac manned the roundtable in order to meet mentoring stakeholders interested in understanding how to make mentoring schemes more sensitive to a diverse student population. To this extent, they were directed to the European Network for Educational Support Projects’ Handbook on MentoringOther participants wished to know more about the recommendations that SIRIUS has for policy making and they were given copies of the SIRIUS Policy Brief on Mentoring.


SUPREME mentoring manual

Early School Leaving – A Pathway for Change

eslIn November 2013, the Thematic Working Group on Early School Leaving (ESL) published it’s final report. Made up of policy makers, practitioners and experts from EU Member States, partner countries and key stakeholder organisations, the Working Group was set up by the European Commission to support Member States to develop and implement comprehensive policies on Early School Leaving.

Final Report of the Thematic Working Group on Early School Leaving (November 2013)

European Commission – Education and Training – Early School Leaving