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

Danish school with only bilingual students is likely to be closed

Tovshøjskolen in Aarhus
Tovshøjskolen in Aarhus

Tovshøjskolen, a school in the municipality of Aarhus, is Denmark’s only school without native Danish pupils. All 300 students are of immigrant descent and grew up bilingually. Now, both education experts and politicians call for closing the school as they see such high concentrations of ethnic minority pupils as an obstacle to integration and school performance.

School concentration in Aarhus is widespread as pupils and parents are allowed to choose schools freely. Pupils do, however, have to pass an entry exam that tests their Danish skills. According to Tovshøjskolen’s principal, many pupils at his school were among those scoring lowest. In addition, the school is located in a disadvantaged neighbourhood. Politicians on local and national level therefore advocate for closing the school and distributing pupils across other schools in the municipality.

Via Politiken

SIRIUS underlines the importance of migrant education for improved cultural Integration in Europe

The cultural integration of migrants and minorities in European societies is task and process in everyday life. Nonetheless, in European political debates it is commonly assigned a low priority compared to the political and economic dimensions of the issue.

Speakers at ifa conference on Migration and Cultural Integration in Europe
Speakers at ifa conference on Migration and Cultural Integration in Europe

On 11 December 2013, ifa (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations) organised a conference on “Migration and Cultural Integration in Europe”, bringing together the heads and representatives of the network of European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) with researchers and practitioners from diverse backgrounds at the Representation of the State of Baden-Wurttemberg to the European Union in Brussels to explore the meanings of cultural integration.

SIRIUS Communications Manager Sarah Cooke O’Dowd spoke on the first panel “New perspectives on the Cultural Integration of Migrants”, highlighting the importance of intercultural education. According to the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), education is a major area of weakness in the integration policies of all but a few countries.

“Migrant pupils may be struggling in school for different reasons than their peers. Schools retain wide discretion on whether or not to address the specific needs of migrant pupils, their teachers and parents, and monitor the results. Without clear requirements or entitlements, pupils do not get the support they need throughout their school career and across the country, especially in communities with many immigrants or few resources. Migrants are entitled to support to learn the language, but frequently it is not held to the same standard as the rest of the curriculum. Hardly any countries have systems to diversify schools or the teaching staff; most schools are therefore missing out on new opportunities brought by a diverse student body.” (MIPEX III 2010)

SIRIUS speechOne of SIRIUS’ main tasks is to overcome this weakness. In this instance, the SIRIUS focus on citizenship education and multilingualism in particular were highlighted.

Summarising the SIRIUS study on citizenship education and ethnic and social diversity, across Europe there is a wide spectrum of citizenship education models ranging from assimilationist to integration and inclusion, which are based on the priority that each country gives to diversity in its education curriculum. SIRIUS works towards an inclusion model that encourages schools to become a space that welcomes all the differences, and consider diversity as a richness that constitutes a relevant aspect of the curriculum and teaching methods.

Following on from the stakeholder meeting on multilingualism that was held in Brussels in September 2013, the European institutions plea for trilingualism was supported as a good way to develop language learning for students with a migrant background. They should be encouraged and supported in their learning of the official language of the country/region, another major language such as English and a language of personal adoption (their mother tongue).

The upcoming stakeholder meeting on increasing the representation of people with a migrant background in education and the recent SIRIUS reports on building professional capacity and parental involvement show further examples of SIRIUS efforts to tackle the weaknesses in education highlighted by the Migrant Integration Policy Index.

ifa report front coverConference Report

Conference programme

MPG Presentation

Seminar results: Educational languages and multilingual and intercultural school programmes

seminario_2013From 26 to 28 November 2013,  the international seminar “The school: laboratory testing of multilingual and intercultural educational practices” was held in Spoleto (PG) and promoted by the Directorate General for school staff of the Ministry of Education, under the patronage of the Municipality of Spoleto , the Province of Perugia, Umbria Region and the contribution of the Regional School for Umbria. The meeting involved experts from the Council of Europe, leaders of the Ministry of Education and educational institutions, Italian and foreign, foreign representatives of the LEM Association, regional coordinators of the project LSCPI and teachers and lecturers of the Italian network “Languages ​​of schooling and curriculum multilingual and intercultural – LSCPI”.

The seminar was a valuable opportunity for dialogue which is of strategic importance today in Italy and in Europe, regarding multilingual and intercultural education and reflection on experimentation with innovative teaching approaches, aimed at enhancing the linguistic and cultural heritage present in the our schools.


Read more (Ministry of Education)

Via European Web Site on Integration