In its Communication "Improving Competences for the 21st Century: An Agenda for European Cooperation on Schools", presented on 3 July, the Commission is proposing an agenda for cooperation among the Member States in three main areas, to make school systems more relevant to the knowledge-based Europe of the future.
First, there needs to be a focus on giving all pupils the competences they need for life in our rapidly changing knowledge society. This includes: increasing levels of reading literacy and numeracy; reinforcing learning-to-learn skills; and modernising curricula, learning materials, teacher training, and assessment accordingly.
Second, there needs to be a commitment to provide high quality learning for every student. This involves generalising pre-school education; improving equity in school systems; reducing early school leaving; and improving support within mainstream schooling for students with special needs.
Third, we need to strive to improve the quality of teachers and school staff. This will require more and higher quality teacher education; more effective teacher recruitment; and help for school leaders to focus on improving learning.
The Communication forms part of the Renewed Social Agenda, the Commission's package of measures, adopted on 2 July 2008, to reinforce Access, Opportunities and Solidarity among all EU citizens.
The Communication is supported by a Staff Working Paper which sets out the latest research evidence and statistics, as well as a summary of the responses to the Public Consultation 'Schools for the 21st century'.