What is it about?

The eleven Thematic Working Groups are part of the Open Method of Coordination to implement the Education and Training 2020 (ET2020) strategic framework.

They were designed to help Member States address the ley challenges of their education and trainings systems and the common priorities agreed at European level.

These groups, like all groups created by other Directorates General of the Commission, are published in the Register of Commission expert groups and other similar entities.

Since 2014, six ET 2020 Working Groups have replaced the Thematic Working Groups.

School Education

Early school leaving - ESL (2011-2013)


This group addressed the challenges of developing and implementing comprehensive policies to reduce early school leaving. It looked at conditions for successful policies, focusing in particular on data collection and monitoring, governance issues and cross-sectoral cooperation, and priorities for preventative, intervention and compensation measures.

The group brought together representatives of nearly all EU Member States, plus Norway, Iceland and Turkey, and of European stakeholder organisations (teachers, parents and students).

Its final report sets 12 key messages for policy makers and translates them into practical tools through a checklist on comprehensive policies and an annex with practice examples from several EU countries illustrating the key messages.

A video summarising the main conclusions is available in:

Other Outputs

Early Childhood Education and Care (2012-2014)


This Working Group on Early Childhood Education Care (ECEC) reflects the diverse governance arrangements of early childhood education and care under different national authorities in the education as well as social, family and health sectors. It has developed a proposal for a European Quality Framework so as to improve, monitor, and evaluate the quality of early childhood education and care systems.

The group identified and analysed success criteria of effective policies to develop guidance for national policy makers. It focused on five main aspects of quality in early childhood education and care:

  • access,
  • workforce,
  • curriculum,
  • evaluation/monitoring,
  • governance/funding.

The group brought together representatives from 25 EU Member States plus Turkey and Norway, the Eurydice Network, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and the OECD.

Other Outputs

Mathematics, Science and Technology (2011-2013)


This group worked on guidance on effective policies to raise pupils’ attainment levels in mathematics and science. As the final report shows, the group focused, among others, on:

  • learning support for low achievers
  • teacher education
  • school leadership
  • the role of assessment in identifying and supporting low achievers
  • curriculum development
  • the impact of inquiry based science education on low achievers

The group included members from 25 European countries and representatives from the Eurydice Network, the OECD and the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE).

Teacher Professional Development (2010-2013)


This group examined specific aspects of teacher education, in particular the development of teacher competences, teachers’ continuous professional development, and policy on teacher educators. The group built on and complemented the work of previous expert groups on the teachers and trainers.

The group included representatives from 22 EU countries, Turkey, Iceland and Norway as well as from the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE), the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and the Association for Teacher Education in Europe (ATEE).


Guidance for policymakers:

Literature Reviews:

Peer Learning Activity Reports:


Modernisation of Higher Education

The key focus was on peer learning among Member States to explore ways to support the modernisation of higher education through the identification and dissemination of good practices in curricular, governance, and funding reforms.

According to its mandate, the main objectives of the group were to:

  • increase attainment levels;
  • improve the quality and relevance of higher education;
  • strengthen quality through mobility and cross-border co-operation;
  • link higher education, research and business for excellence and regional development;
  • improve governance and funding.

The group produced a Progress Report on Modernising Reforms in Higher Education, which offers 42 practice examples from 22 EU/EEA countries.

Adult Learning

Quality in Adult Learning

According to its mandate, the group was tasked with developing, in its final report (see also the policy summary), a quality framework which will inform and guide both Member States and individual providers on the provision of high quality adult learning.

It aimed to explore synergies and strengthen the policy links/interface between EU policy development on quality in VET, higher education, and adult learning.

Financing Adult Learning

According to its mandate, the Thematic Working Group on Financing Adult Learning explored existing good practices and produced policy recommendations aimed at assisting Member States in improving the efficiency and coherence of financing adult learning.

The group identified financial mechanisms and tools that balance the responsibility of private-public funding.

Vocational education and training

The main focus of this working group has been on VET trainers at the workplace in both initial and continuing VET.

Through peer learning among policy-makers and experts in the field, the working group shared knowledge and helped develop policy guidance as regards vocational trainers’ competences and continuing professional development.

The final report is based on the following peer learning activity reports:

Transversal key competences

Entrepreneurship education

This group was set up to advance the uptake and improve the quality of national policy approaches to entrepreneurship education. The objectives were to produce best practice advice and examples for national policy-makers, developers, and stakeholders to daw upon and implement in their national and EU level policy development.

The participants represented 23 Member States, as well as Norway, Turkey, and Croatia, as well as social partners and other European Commission Directorates General. These individuals drew on their collective experience and that of their networks to share ideas on how to accelerate uptake of entrepreneurship education at all levels and areas of education and training.

Group outputs include four thematic reports on:

In addition to this, a variety of videos have been produced providing insight into policy success factors identified by the group.

The final report of this group identifies the key success factors for effective policy approaches to support entrepreneurship education. Importantly, it builds on existing work at national and EU level, and showcases country information, good practice and lessons learned.

Languages in education and training

This group was active in the framework of the second of the ET2020 objectives; "improving the quality and efficiency of education and training, with a view to enable citizens to communicate in two languages, in addition to the mother tongue, promote language teaching, where relevant, in VET and for adult learners, and provide migrants with opportunities to learn the language of the host country".

The deliverables of the working group included a comparative analysis of language teaching and learning in Member States and associated countries. On the basis of the analysis, certain methodologies were studied in more depth, notably Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL).

During its mandate the TWG carried out two consecutive peer learning activities (PLA’s), one in Helsinki and one in Graz. The Languages Working Group Peer Learning Activity Report summarises the outcomes of these activities. The output of the group and the way forward are outlined in a note for the file.

ICT and Education

This group addressed the challenges of developing and implementing comprehensive policies to increase the use of new technologies in education and training and how education can enhance digital competences of learners and educators. It looked at conditions for successful policies, focusing in particular on data collection and monitoring, governance issues and cross-sectoral cooperation. It guided in particular the development of an EU Communication on Opening up education.

The group brought together representatives of 21 EU Member States, as well as Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey, as well as European stakeholder organisations.

The Working Group contributed to the development and validation of an EU Reference Framework for digital competences, to policy experimentations around 'creative classrooms' in order to support mainstreaming of the use of ICT in education; provided Policy Guidance to the new EU Initiative on Opening up Education, including the Staff Working Document and the Country overviews accompanying the Communication on Opening up Education.