EUROPEAN COMMISSION DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR EDUCATION AND CULTURE

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1 EUROPEAN COMMISSION DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR EDUCATION AND CULTURE Education and vocational training, Coordination of Erasmus+ School education; Erasmus + ET2020 WORKING GROUP ON SCHOOLS POLICY WORK PROGRAMME 1. RATIONALE AND MANDATE OF THE WORKING GROUP As stipulated in its mandate, the primary purpose of the Working Group on Schools Policy is to benefit the Member States in their work of furthering policy development on schools policy through mutual learning and the identification of good practice. The WG will focus on the two most pressing challenges of schools policy, which will be dealt with in parallel by different constellations of the Group, cooperating and interacting continuously: (a) reducing early school leaving and (b) improving the quality of teaching by improving teacher education. Regarding early school leaving (ESL), the WG will look at approaches to better support schools in their ambitions to prevent and reduce ESL, based on the conclusions of the previous Thematic Working Group on ESL, which between 2011 and 2013 worked on the concept of comprehensive policies at system level and produced policy recommendations. In order to both improve pupil attainment and reduce early school leaving, it is necessary for Member States to review the effectiveness - and academic and pedagogical quality - of both Initial Teacher Education and continuing professional development. The WG will build on extensive work by the Thematic Working Group on Teacher Professional Development ( ), which primarily covered continued professional development. As stipulated in the mandate, through its work the WG will have the possibility to arrange for advice or peer counselling to support Member States to address the respective CSRs 1. 1 Format and extent of this exercise will depend on the number of countries receiving CSRs. Commission européenne/europese Commissie, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, BELGIQUE/BELGIË - Tel

2 2. POLICY BACKGROUND 2.1. POLICY CHALLENGE 1: EARLY SCHOOL LEAVING A range of EU policy developments have contributed to the creation of this Working Group (WG), including: Setting the 10% headline target on the level of early school leaving (ESL) as one of the five EU targets for , as part of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The June 2011 Council Recommendations on policies to reduce early school leaving 3, which called on Member States to ensure that comprehensive strategies on ESL are in place by the end of 2012 and asked the European Commission to support Member States strategies through the exchange of experience and good practice, and to facilitate effective peer learning, networking and experimentation. The Thematic Working Group on early school leaving and its Final report 4 of November 2013, including key messages for policy makers, a checklist on comprehensive policies and an annex with practice examples from several EU countries POLICY CHALLENGE 2: TEACHER EDUCATION Teachers are the most important in-school factor affecting student outcomes. This is why national policy reforms to support teachers and make their own education more effective are likely to bring the greatest returns in terms of efficiency of education systems. The Commission s policy work in support of the teaching professions has been based on a range of Council conclusions on teachers (2007, 2008, 2009) and on leadership in education (2013). Council Conclusions on Effective Teacher Education are currently under negotiation (expected to be adopted in May 2014). Previous generations of OMC Working Groups have dealt with policies in support of the teaching professions and focused, in particular, on policy guidance on the development of teacher competences 5, teacher educators 6 and early career support (induction) 7. In November 2012 the Commission summarised the outcome of its work with Member States, and additional research, in Supporting the teaching professions for better learning outcomes

3 3. PRIORITY ISSUES AND OUTPUTS A limited mandate of 22 months requires the WG to apply a strict thematic focus and to work from the beginning towards well-defined outputs. At the first meeting the WG discussed possible priority themes and corresponding working methods to achieve highquality outputs. In order for these products to be of high relevance and usability for policy-makers it was suggested at the first meeting that the WG should seek to apply the concept of next practice, i.e. to explore whether particular policies are sufficiently transferrable or adaptable in order to be useful and applicable for other countries/systems to learn from or adopt within their specific context and constraints EARLY SCHOOL LEAVING PRIORITY ISSUES The results of the previous Thematic Working Group on ESL confirm that early school leaving is a complex phenomenon that cannot be ascribed solely to schools or solved by schools alone: reducing ESL will depend on the capacity of schools to create supportive and conducive learning environments, that are welcoming, open, safe, and friendly and where all pupils can grow and succeed. To ensure school success for all and prevent early school leaving, schools need to develop into learning hubs, providing support to their community as well as receiving support from the community, while keeping the learner at the centre. This implies on the one hand more collaborative approaches within the school community, involving all relevant actors (principals, teaching and non-teaching staff and pupils), and on the other hand cooperation with the outside world (parents, local communities, professionals and services such as social workers, youth workers, outreach care workers, psychologists, nurses, speech and language therapists and occupational guidance specialists, etc.). It also requires that schools are able to organise and gear effectively all school dimensions towards a clearly defined and agreed objective. The work done so far on ESL shows that such a "whole school approach" already proved to be successful to prevent school-drop out. The WG will further analyse these collaborative practices and will map to which extent they are implemented in the MSs, what are the main conditions to implement them and how they can be transferred to different contexts. The whole education spectrum will be taken into account to the extent possible. Owing to high proportions of pupils with a migrant background among early school leavers, special attention will be paid to necessary support for pupils with a migrant background or coming from an ethnic minority 9. Through discussions and peer learning in different forms (in-depth country focus workshops, case studies, etc.) the WG will collect evidence on the interventions and 8 Staff Working Paper SWD(2012)0347, presented as part of the Rethinking Education initiative: 9 On the specific issues of migrants and ESL, cooperation with the SIRIUS policy network will be enhanced. 3

4 stages necessary to successfully implement collaborative practices in and around schools with a view to preventing ESL. In the view to present the "next practice" approach and taking into account the different contexts this analysis will focus on: key drivers and conditions for introducing collaborative practices within and beyond school (both at the policy and at the school level); stages and trajectories of developing collaborative practices within and beyond school; interventions (measures) at the policy and at the school level; obstacles and possible solutions to overcome them; ways of monitoring and evaluating the development of schools in the direction of learning hubs; "dos and don ts" to use in classroom, in schools and in linking with the community; possibilities of transfer of measures/practices to other national/cultural contexts. The analysis will be done by focusing on different and yet strongly intererrelated and complementary aspects which are necessary to implement "whole school approaches" to prevent ESL, as follows: School organisation/culture (focusing on design and implementation of school development plans and development of collaborative practices within and beyond the school) with focus on the role of leadership; Support for teachers (in cooperation with the members of the WG working on initial teacher education, focusing e.g. on the necessary competences of teachers to cooperate with other professionals, students, families and partners beyond the school; skills and competences needed to address at risk pupils or pupils of different ethnic background); Support framework for learners (focusing on how to develop relevant learning environments, including through new curricula and methods; access to learning support, including language support for pupils whose native language is not the teaching language; access to other forms of support, to guidance etc.); Involvement of parents and extended families (as a crucial measure to reduce ESL, particularly in case of parents/communities of different ethnic background); Involvement of other relevant local stakeholders: local communities, professionals, services, civil society, local authorities and businesses OUTPUTS On the basis of work above, it is suggested that the WG produce a Guidance Framework and a toolkit for schools. The Guidance Framework, addressed to policy-makers at different levels, will identify policy conditions which need to exist in order to enable schools to develop "whole school approaches" to ESL and promote school success for all. The toolkit will consist of a set of conditions and recommendations for cooperation in and around schools. Schools will find therein concrete examples of the steps to be put in place to prevent and combat ESL. 4

5 The final outputs will refer to different types of education systems and provide recommendations for different school systems. Depending on the specific country conditions and the different starting points, they will seek to propose diversified steps ("next steps"). A proposal for a network of schools applying any of the "whole school approaches" could be made, depending on the number of examples gathered by the WG members TEACHER EDUCATION PRIORITY ISSUES The Working Group will seek to identify policy practice from Member States that has been successful in improving the effectiveness and quality of teacher education with a view to equipping teachers with the competences required in changing work environments. At the first meeting of the WG, members identified broad themes for exploration. Given that the mandate for the WG is limited in time, and that the focus of the previous working group was on continued professional development, it is suggested that during this mandate the WG will focus on the effectiveness and quality of initial Teacher Education. Through discussions and peer learning in different forms (in-depth country focus workshops, case studies etc.) the WG will collect evidence on successful policy practice and reforms of initial Teacher Education. This analysis will present: drivers and conditions for successful reforms policy interventions and reform steps/trajectories key challenges/obstacles to reforms and solutions to overcome them possibilities of transferring measures/practices to other national/cultural contexts ( from best practice to next practice ) Several topics and key questions have been identified by the Group in their first meeting. Applying a clearer focus on initial Teacher Education, these could constitute the following principal themes for the WG: Governance of initial Teacher Education : Key question: How can policy steer, facilitate and monitor quality in initial Teacher Education? Linked to this: How to stimulate dialogue with stakeholders, including governments, providers of initial Teacher Education, Teaching Councils, schools, teachers etc? How to balance ite providers autonomy with needs of schools, governments and society in this context? Initial Teacher Education in the continuum of Teacher Education : Key question: Which effective policy models are there to implement links between initial Teacher Education and early career support (induction)/career-long professional development (CPD) in a functioning continuum? Linked to this: How to support this through effective co-operation between schools and universities? How to integrate theory and practice in teacher education? How to deal with side-entrants to and exits from the profession through alternative pathways? 5

6 Laying the foundations for Collaborative Learning Communities : Key question: How can policy support collaborative learning communities among teachers to make teacher education more effective and improve students learning outcomes? Linked to this: How can ite promote a culture of collaboration within and across classrooms, schools, teacher education institutions? What are potential gains throughout the continuum of teacher education, in particular for ite? In addition, the group suggested exploring the Mobility and internationalization of initial Teacher Education, and in particular how these can contribute to equipping teachers with the competences they need to perform in socio-culturally diverse classrooms and schools? Under this theme the WG would look into the role of mobility between different levels of education and different professions within the education sector and explore how international study elements are embedded in ite. The Group s work on these themes will be framed in such a way to directly feed into the final output of the WG as outlined below. Working methods may differ from theme to theme: for instance, time constraints will allow the WG to cover 2-3 themes through Indepth country focus workshops. Remaining themes, if relevant, could be dealt with in other ways, such as, for instance, case-studies embedded in WG meetings OUTPUTS In light of the above it is suggested that the final output of the WG will be a Next practice guide on improving initial Teacher Education. It should serve as a tool for policy-makers that contextualises reforms and policy practice in different countries in a way that allows them to assess transferability to their own context and their usefulness as next practice (by giving an account of constraints, beneficial factors, time frames, resources, conditionality etc.). The guide will feature country-specific information, including a mapping of recent and planned reforms of initial Teacher Education in Europe, whether they are comprehensive or limited to particular aspects. For this purpose, it will aim to define logical sequences of reforms, as far as possible, by identifying recurring elements or building blocks. 4. INPUTS TO THE WORK OF THE GROUP WG Members will be asked to provide major inputs to the work of the Group, such as information on features of national systems, policy reforms and initiatives, evaluation of impacts and other evidence from national contexts. They will contribute, for instance, by answering questionnaires and by giving presentations at WG meetings on topics with relevance for the Group s work. The Commission will invite important stakeholder organisations, EU policy networks and national initiatives, as well as successful projects funded through EU programmes, to share their experience with the WG. In order to facilitate exchanges with stakeholders, back-to-back meetings of the WG and of the group of stakeholder organizations in the field of schools policy may be organised. 6

7 In addition, the Commission will be able to ask the consultants for the WG to provide specific input on research and policy practice in the form of literature reviews, mappings or reports. The Commission will also seek to stimulate and inform the Group s work through evidence from its own studies and analysis of international surveys. Important new evidence from international surveys (PISA, TALIS, PIAAC) and their secondary analysis will be made available over the course of the WG s mandate. This will be particularly relevant for the theme of Teacher Education. The Commission will provide its own analysis as input to the WG, which will be asked to explore in how far the data can support its work (e.g. by giving indications about the effectiveness and quality of initial Teacher Education in different countries or by pointing to successful models and practice in ite) Annex II lists a range of reports, studies and surveys, which are available or will become available during the lifecycle of the WG and will be used in WG activities. 5. WORKING METHODS AND ACTIVITIES PLANNED DURING THE MANDATE Work in sub-groups: Due to time constraints it is suggested that the different themes will be addressed by sub-groups which will work in parallel and report back to the plenary at key stages. Co-operation platform and webinars: The Commission will create a closed group on the social network Yammer as a virtual discussion space and platform for exchange of materials and ideas among WG members. In addition, Webinars may be used to discuss specific issues between meetings. Peer learning: WG members will be regularly invited to present policies and practices for discussion by the Group: continuously through exchanges within sub-groups; through presentations at plenary sessions of the WG meetings and through a number of In-depth country focus workshops and case studies. o In-depth Country Focus Workshops: two to three such workshops will be organised for each of the main policy challenges (ESL and Teacher Education) to focus peer-learning activities on a particular theme and/or country examples (for more details see Annex I). Some countries have already indicated their willingness to host such a workshop. o Case studies: peer learning on additional themes will happen through indepth case studies. A WG Member, supported by other experts from the country, presents a good, long established practice, for the WG to discuss. In the debate the WG will try to identify the key conditions for success, challenges encountered, lessons learnt and possibilities for transfer to other contexts (a common structure of the case study will be 7

8 defined in advance). From autumn 2014 half a day of each WG meeting will be set aside for the presentation and discussion of a case study. Case studies may also be embedded in In-depth Country Focus Workshops. Information gathering: presentations and written inputs (e.g. questionnaires) by the members of the WG on national policy and contexts. 6. CREATING A WIDER IMPACT A special emphasis will be placed on how to support WG members in taking lessons learned, outputs and conclusions of the WG further at the national level. WG members are asked to use or create their own networks to obtain relevant information for their activities in the WG, to test themes and draft outputs for their relevance and usability, and to disseminate the outputs of this and previous Working Groups. The Commission will regularly report to Directors-General for Schools about work progress and outputs of the Working Group and will seek their feedback both on process and content. The Commission will disseminate the outputs of the Working Group to its networks of stakeholders, including its Policy Networks and National Agencies for the Erasmus+ programme. At the end of the WG in autumn 2015 the Commission will aim to present the output to a larger group of European and national stakeholders, including national decisionmakers, with a view to giving the WG outputs high visibility and a wider impact. 8

9 ANNEXES ANNEX I: IN-DEPTH COUNTRY FOCUS WORKSHOPS SHORT EXPLANATION In-depth country focus workshops (formerly known as "peer-learning activities / PLA"), are an integral part of the learning processes of thematic working groups. The groups plan and organise in-depth country focus workshops according to their learning needs. In their specific thematic area they aim: to analyse, compare and may be contrast different policy options or approaches to develop new knowledge about the policy area to exchange policy experience and evidence to integrate research into policy making and to offer practical guidance to participating countries. In-depth country focus workshops are always focussed on policy, not classroom practice. They combine presentations of policy examples, visits to relevant locations and significant time for discussion. Usually several policy approaches/ practices, from the host country and other countries, are presented, compared and contrasted, in order to identify those factors that are critical for success in policy-making, policy implementation and reform and that are transferrable to other national contexts. Focus should not only be on successful practice, but challenges and obstacles should be also addressed. In-depth country focus workshops aim at stimulating discussion on the approaches being presented without actually engaging in full assessment of those. In this way they combine elements of peer-reviews and study visits. Workshops are organised in cooperation between the host country, the WG and the Commission. They last typically 3-4 working days. In-depth country focus workshops can also be organised in countries not actually involved in the Group. Social partners and stakeholders (European and national level) should get involved to allow for different perspectives in analysing policy examples. In-depth country focus workshops should address a specific theme, which should be concrete but not too narrow. Very broad themes can be broken down into several more concrete sub-themes. The definition of the theme should be strongly linked to the work programme of the group and its learning needs. This requires a good thematic preparation also by the group, a clear definition of the purpose of the in-depth country focus workshops and the definition of core questions to be addressed. Concerning funding, the basic approach is that participants' travel costs are reimbursed by the Commission according to Commission rules; hotel and subsistence costs are paid by the sending country (for government experts) or by the Commission (for representatives of NGOs, stakeholder groups etc). The host country provides the meeting venue (and, if necessary, local transportation for visits to institutions etc). Some host countries also provide 'extras' such as a dinner, or lunches but these are not obligatory. 9

10 ANNEX II: INPUT TO THE WG ON SCHOOLS POLICY The following reports, studies and surveys of relevance are available, or will become available during the lifecycle of the WG, and will be used to support its activities. This list is not exhaustive and will be completed in relation to the specific topics the WG will work on. WG members will be invited to suggest additional relevant input. General Education and Training Monitor 2014 ET2020 Joint Report 2015 (based on the ET 2020 National Reports, to be submitted by MSs by end June 2014). The Draft Joint Report will be adopted by the Commission in March Early School Leaving Eurydice/Cedefop joint report on comprehensive policies against ESL (November 2014) Commission study on on the effective use of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in preventing early school leaving (summer 2014). The European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN) will publish a concept note on the role of guidance to prevent ESL (autumn 2014) The European policy network on the education of children and young people with a migrant background (SIRIUS) will publish a policy note on ESL and pupils with a migrant background (November 2014). NESET country reports on equity in education for all 28 MSs (October 2014). Teacher Education Commission Staff Working Paper Supporting the Teaching Professions for Better Learning Outcomes (November 2012) Eurydice s Key Data on Teachers and School leaders in Europe (2013), which is based on statistical data and qualitative information derived from primary data supplied by the Eurydice Network, Eurostat data and evidence derived from the international surveys TALIS 2008, PISA 2009 and TIMSS The recent PISA2012 and PIAAC2013 surveys including the Commission s own analysis of Member States performance. Outputs from previous OMC Working Groups: Policy Guidance on Teacher Competence Development, Teacher Educators and Induction, plus a range of reports from Peer Learning Activities. Commission study on the Attractiveness of the teaching profession (April 2014) 10

11 Initial teacher education in Europe: an overview of policy issues report prepared for the WG by consultant Francesca Caena and presented at the first meeting (Feb 2014) Upcoming TALIS 2013 (the OECD s Teaching and Learning International Survey): first evidence to be released by the OECD end of June 2014, along with the Commission s analysis of EU Member States covered. Commission study on Policies to promote innovative pedagogies (end of 2014). 11

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