What is it about?

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.

Building on the work of the previous eleven thematic working groups, from 2014-2015 there were six Working Groups on:

  • School Policy
  • Modernisation of Higher Education
  • Adult Learning
  • Vocational Education and Training
  • Transversal Skills
  • Digital and Online Learning.

Building on mutual learning and the exchange of good practices, and following their mandate, these groups have delivered key messages and highlights targeted at policy-makers as well as stakeholders.

This Working Group focused on:

  • policies to improve the quality and relevance of Initial Teacher Education, aimed at a more effective continuum of teacher education and professional development;
  • ways of developing collaborative practices inside and around schools ('whole school approach') to tackle early school leaving and ensure that all learners succeed in education.

The purpose of the Working Group was to support policymakers to develop effective strategies for reforms of school education and to identify the conditions needed for their implementation.

The Group was composed of government representatives from 30 European countries, including EU Member States as well as Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey, and representatives of European social partner organisations.

Key outputs:

How to prepare and support teachers

Whole school approach to early school leaving

To know more: Working Group mandate, Work Programme

To reach these outputs, the group has been practicing peer learning through country-focus workshops, country analysis and exchange of good practices; it has benefited from inputs from international research and dialogue with experts. A number of reports have been also produced on specific topics:

On Initial Teacher Education:

On promoting collaborative approaches to tackle early school leaving:

The Working Group built on the results of two previous Thematic Working Groups on Teacher Professional Development and Early school leaving.

Cooperation between EU countries on school issues will continue through a new Working Group on Schools policy (2016-18).

Key messages from the Group can be found in the Highlights of the Working Groups.

According to its mandate, the Working Group supported Member State reforms to maximise the potential of higher education systems to provide high quality higher education, increasing Europe's innovation capacity and contributing to growth and jobs. Its main policy priorities were:

  • Increase attainment levels
  • Improve the quality and relevance of higher education
  • Strengthen quality through mobility and cross border cooperation
  • Link higher education, research and business for excellence and regional development
  • Improve governance and funding.

The purpose of the activities of the Working Group was to enable policymakers to develop effective strategies for reforms and to identify the conditions needed for their implementation, on the basis of country evidence as well as mutual learning based on national and institutional good practices. The Working Group was made up of national polucy-makers and representatives of the social partners. Country-focused workshops have already led to reports on:

The group also produces and updates a “Report on Good Practices in the Modernisation of Higher Education" (Member States’ Level) highlighting national policy measures reported by members of the Working Group.

Key messages from the Group can be found in the Highlights of the Working Groups

The primary purpose of the Working Group on Adult Learning was to benefit the participating countries in further developing their adult learning policies, through mutual learning and the identification of good practices. The group addressed challenges in relation to basic skills, literacy, numeracy and digital skills, and focused on effective implementation of adult learning policies (see mandate).

The group brought together experts from 27 EU Member states plus Serbia, Turkey, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, and representatives of European Adult Learning stakeholders' organisations.

The Group's mutual learning has been documented in the following reports:

Improving basic skills - Stuttgart October 2014:

Policy Coherence – Brussels November 2014:

Improving use of ICT and OER in Adult Learning – Oslo March 2015:

The group has delivered key messages and recommendations on the following issues:

Increasing adults basic skills

Increasing adults basic skills

Developing ICT skills for adults

Developing ICT skills for adults

Strengthening policy efficiency, effectiveness and coherence

Strengthening policy efficiency, effectiveness and coherence

The Group has been interactively working with the contractor for the Commission’s study on "Adult learning policies and their effectiveness in Europe", guiding and commenting on the study, the analytical framework and the prototype web tool that will enable countries to self-assess the effectiveness of their adult learning policies. The Group has also followed and contributed to the study on "Adult learners in digital environments . The studies have contributed to the peer learning in the group and supported the development of policy recommendations for proactive adult learning policies.

The Working Group delivered its final report in January 2016.

Key messages from the Group can be found in the Highlights of the Working Groups.

According to its mandate, the primary focus of the working group was to benefit the Member States in their work of furthering policy development in the area of vocational education and training through mutual learning and the identification of good practices. The aim was to support effective implementation of national VET reforms which set up or strengthen work-based learning and apprenticeship-type schemes.

It addressed four policy challenges:

  • Support for companies, in particular SMEs, offering apprenticeships
  • Positive image of apprenticeships and improved career guidance
  • National governance, regulatory framework and social partners' involvement
  • Quality assurance in work-based learning

The Group delivered a report identifying 20 guiding principles for high performance apprenticeships and work-based learning.

Key messages from the Group can be found in the Highlights of the Working Groups.

According to its mandate, the primary focus of this working group was to support the Member States in their work of furthering policy development on transversal skills through mutual learning and the identification of good practices.

It focused on three transversal skills: EntrepreneurshipDigital Skills and Languages. This built upon work undertaken in the previous generation of working groups, specifically the three Thematic Working Groups on 'Entrepreneurship Education', 'ICT & Education' and 'Languages in Education & Training'.

Representatives from 27 Member States, 4 partner countries, social partners and European institutions, through both face-to-face meetings and online webinars, guided the development of innovative actions in the area of transversal skills.

These resulted in practical and tangible outputs addressing four key policy challenges:

  • Mainstreaming delivery and development of transversal skills into education and training, including through supporting European Policy Experimentations
  • Training educators to incorporate entrepreneurial skill development into their learning environment, including through the new Entrepreneurship360 tool
  • Developing frameworks and tools to operationalise transversal skills in the education, training and youth fields, in particular for entrepreneurial and digital skills
  • Support country level policy and implementation

The primary focus of this working group, which ran from 2014-2015, was to support the Member States in policy development on digital and online learning.

Representatives from 25 Member States, three partner countries, social partners and European institutions took part int he group.

The Group helped guide the implementation of:

Council Conclusions on efficient and innovative education and training to invest in skills, and

Opening up Education policy communication.

The group focused on three key areas:

  • Policy guidance on innovative and open learning environments,
  • Policy guidance for educational providers on the use of digital content and open knowledge,
  • Observing new trends in 'ICT and education' and their possible implications for policy making.

The outputs of the group included:

The group had its final meeting in October 2015.The work is now continuing under the Digital Skills and Competences working group which will run from 2016-2018.

See also the interactive infographic on digital-age learning.