12 - 13 November 2019

Brussels, Belgium

Learning approaches and environments in school education

This conference will discuss different learning approaches and environments in school education that support key competences development. Developing key competences for all is at the heart of the European Education Area which is a space where everyone should receive the best education, training and lifelong learning. In today's world, young people need a broad set of skills and competences to find fulfilling jobs and become independent, engaged citizens. This means the basic skills of reading, writing, maths and science but also digital skills, languages, entrepreneurship, citizenship, intercultural skills, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity.

The Council of the European Union adopted the Council Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning on 22 May 2018.  The Recommendation sets out eight key competences that we all need for personal fulfilment and development, employability, active citizenship and social inclusion:

  • Literacy competence
  • Multilingual competence
  • Mathematical competence and competence in science, technology and engineering
  • Digital competence
  • Personal, social and learning to learn competence
  • Citizenship competence
  • Entrepreneurship competence
  • Cultural awareness and expression competence
See the Brochure on Key Competences for lifelong learning for more information.

Key competences are best developed in systems, which promote and use a variety of learning approaches and environments, support their teachers and assess and validate key competences.

Conference participants will discuss different learning approaches and environments in school education that support the development of these competences. Examples of such learning approaches and environments include project-based learning, cross-discipline learning or learning in collaboration with external stakeholders.  

The conference will bring together policymakers and stakeholders involved in preparation and implementation of school education policies and reforms. Participants will also have an opportunity to network and visit the conference exhibition where relevant Erasmus+, eTwinning, Horizon 2020 and national projects will be presented. At the end of the conference, we aim to have a set of concrete policy actions, which can be adapted at national level with the aim of introducing different learning approaches and environments in schools in Europe.

See the Conference Input Paper for more details.

Registration for this conference, which is now closed, is by invitation only.


Day 1: 12 November 2019

09:00 09:30
Arrival and registration

Opening speech by the European Commission,

Themis Christophidou, Director General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture.

Competence based teaching and learning in today’s world - why, what and how?
  • Tiina Silander, Director of the Division for General Upper Secondary Education and Teacher Education, Department for Higher Education and Science Policy and General Upper Secondary Education of the Ministry of Education, Finland;
  • Alexandre Pachulski, Talentsoft: Talents of tomorrow.
Project examples

Quick and dynamic presentations of exhibition projects.

Coffee break
Panel discussion: National educational reforms supporting key competences development in school education in Europe
  • Dr. Harold Hislop, Chief Inspector, Department of Education and Skills, Ireland;
  • Lidija Kralj, Assistant Minister, Croatia;
  • Margit Timakov, Head of Estonian Teacher Association, Estonia;
  • Kris van den Branden, KU Leuven, Belgium;
Project examples

Quick and dynamic presentations of exhibition projects.

Lunch break and projects exhibition
Parallel workshops Part I – state of play
  • Whole School Approach to Learning – Schools cooperating with external organizations;
  • Whole School Approach to Learning  - Cross-discipline learning;
  • Supporting key competences through formative feedback and student reflection;
  • Digital technologies supporting key competence development;
  • Learning spaces: thinking out of the box;
  • Language aware schools: how languages shape learning.
Coffee break
Parallel workshops Part II– formulating policy recommendations
  • Whole School Approach to Learning – Schools cooperating with external organizations;
  • Whole School Approach to Learning  - Cross-discipline learning;
  • Supporting key competences through formative feedback and student reflection;
  • Digital technologies supporting key competence development;
  • Learning spaces: thinking out of the box;
  • Language aware schools: how languages shape learning.
Walking dinner and cocktail in the project exhibition area
The Story: Cultural heritage cinema room of the Le Plaza hotel

(optional activity)

Day 2: 13 November 2019

Video message by Kenyan science teacher Peter Tabichi, winner of 2019 Global Teacher Prize
Keynote speech

Cesar Bona, teacher and author, finalist of the Global Teacher Prize 2014, Spain.

Taking the work forward

Capturing workshop outcomes and next steps.

Coffee break
'Pro-action café': Action planning and validation of policy recommendations

Participants interact and discuss future initiatives or ideas for reform and get peer advice/questions for future initiatives.

Conclusions and closing

Closing speech by the European Commission,

Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot, Director - Youth, Education and Erasmus+.



Inclusion and high quality education and training are underlying concepts of the six workshops.

This workshop will look at how a Whole School Approach can create learning environments and contexts that foster competence development for all learners, valuing diversity amongst pupils, and taking into account disadvantaged pupils.

Participants will discuss collaboration with outside partners and stakeholders such as business, arts, sport and youth community, higher education or research institutes. The focus of the workshop will be on how such broad partnerships and networks can be built through a long-term strategy-based on trust and common objectives and how they contribute to key competence development.

The development of key competences is often facilitated by the provision of context from other disciplines. For example, teaching science in the context of the arts, humanities and social sciences is recognised as an important learning aid. This is known as STE(A)M approach to STEM education. Similarly, the infusion of science and maths into the learning of non-STEM disciplines could strengthen key-competence development in those disciplines.

Another example is Content and language integrated learning (CLIL). The workshop will address the development of key competences in general through cross-disciplines learning. Participants will discuss innovative initiatives that have the potential to increase achievements in Key Competences, barriers for their implementations and ways to further up-scale them in different contexts. Cooperation amongst teachers is one of the key features of the Whole School Approach, which aims at creating inclusive learning environments that foster competence development for all learners.

This workshop will address development of key competences from the perspective of an individual learner and will link it to formative assessment. Participants will discuss processes of understanding and identifying learners’ competence development needs, setting learning targets, understanding one’s own progression as a learner and identifying future learning needs.

The workshop will present a concrete example from Ireland where a toolkit has been developed for schools to support the professional learning of teachers around formative assessment and feedback and on students reflecting on their learning. The toolkit has also been used to build understanding among key stakeholders: school leaders, inspectors, teacher educators and examiners about this important learning approach.

The increased use of digital technologies in education can enrich the learning experience and help students to learn how to use technology in creative, collaborative and proactive ways. Digital technologies can support innovative teaching and learning practices and provide new ways for teachers and students alike to collaborate, create, be informed, and share new knowledge.

Seamless integration of technologies require significant educational innovation and implies a process of planning for pedagogical, technological and organisational change. The workshop will explore how digital technologies can support and facilitate competence development. It will focus on approaches that facilitate the innovative use of digital technologies to foster a wide set of competences as for instance Future Classroom Labs and Makerspaces.

Outdoor learning and risky play, media centres, restructured libraries, science labs, flexible classrooms, inclusive playgrounds... It is increasingly recognised that learning can take place in many ways and places and that the acquisition of key competences can be enhanced by offering all children learning spaces which are more respectful of their active nature and offer greater well-being.

When creating new schools or renovating old ones, or simply when thinking about the organisation of a classroom and which pedagogies to use, thinking out of the box is the key to success. To inspire this thinking, this workshop will look at different examples and research findings which show the need to re-think schools' infrastructure to facilitate learning and well-being at school. It will look at how ministries and architects can inspire local policy-makers and school staff to imagine the schools of tomorrow. Finally, the workshop will seek to identify the key enablers to facilitate the development of such infrastructures, and will discuss in particular how policy-makers and head teachers can facilitate this process.

The workshop will discuss the concept of language awareness and its role in learning and competence development. The teaching of language is an important element across all subjects looking at the various ways language is used in the classroom and the vital role language plays in learning and understanding subject content. Acquiring a good command of academic language goes hand in hand with the development of subject knowledge and understanding.

Language awareness comprises the understanding that language learning is a dynamic process and a continuum — the acquisition of the first language and its different registers and styles continues and is deeply interlinked with the learning of other languages, in different levels of proficiency, corresponding to every learner's circumstances, needs and interests.

Language awareness is key to ensuring that every student reaches an excellent level of command of the language(s) of schooling, and ultimately has a good basis for further learning. The workshop will provide examples of successful approaches in this area, and make the link between different ways of expression. It will discuss the following questions: "What is language awareness and what is the relations between language and learning?" and "Why is it so important, for competence development, to have a language dimension across all subjects?"

Welcoming Statement by Sabine Verheyen

Chair of the Culture Committee in the European Parliament

School is perhaps the most formative time of one's entire life; each of you will remember stories from math lessons, French language homework or sports and art lessons. The European Union, as well, long ago recognized the great relevance of this chapter of life and manifested it in its fundamental rights through the right to education.

Nevertheless, access to lifelong learning alone is not enough; the EU has also committed itself to improving the quality of teaching. In addition to strengthening the teaching of basic skills such as reading and calculating, the EU identified other key competences relevant for promotion.
The discussions on key competences that have emerged in recent years show the immense importance of a broad concept of education. This concept includes the supplementation of the basic competences previously mentioned by further fields such as multilingual, digital or learning to learn competences as well as democracy education.

Therefore, within the framework of the Horizon 2020 programme, Erasmus+, eTwinning and other initiatives, the EU aims to support students and better train teachers as well as, for example, significantly improve the digital infrastructure. By exploiting the diverse dimensions of this broad concept of education, all learners shall have the chance to achieve their full potential.

To make these ambitious goals become reality, despite the EU's efforts, such important conferences as today's are in high demand. The development of further ideas on how to convey the many key competences of a broad concept of education is essential.

The European Parliament is working hard to implement a European Education Area and we are fighting for the tripling of the Erasmus+ budget. We count on your support as well. Let us continue working collectively to achieve our common goals. Education is more than just learning to read and write – it is about securing motivation, social inclusion, an informed society and democracy for the generations to come.


Themis Christophidou

Director-General, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC), European Commission.


Cesar Bona

Teacher and author, finalist of the Global Teacher Prize 2014, Spain.


Harold Hislop

Chief Inspector, Department of Education and Skills, Ireland.


Lidija Kralj

Assistant Minister (Director General), Ministry of Science and Education, Croatia.


Alexandre Pachulski

Co-founder of Talentsoft, author of Unique(s), France.


Tiina Silander

Director, Department for Higher Education and Science Policy and General Upper Secondary Education of the Ministry of Education, Finland.


Peter Tabichi

Science teacher and Franciscan Brother, 2019 Global Teacher Prize winner.


Margit Timakov

Head of Estonian Teacher Association, Estonia.


Kris Van den Branden

Professor of linguistics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.


Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot

Director for Youth, Education and Erasmus+ at the European Commission's Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture.


Patricia Corieri

Coordinator, La Scientothèque ASBL, Brussels, Belgium.


Amparo Cortés Merenciano

Head of Studies, San Vicente Ferrer public school, Llíria, Valencia, Spain.


Maria João Horta

Deputy Director of the Directorate-General for Education of the Portuguese Ministry of Education.


Phytoula Neophytou

Headteacher, Whole Day Primary School, Cyprus.


Sandra Pinto

Portuguese teacher, Erasmus+ projects coordinator, participant of the Innovation Project and INCLUD-ED, Portugal.


Teresa Sordé Martí

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain.


María Vieites Casado

Teacher and Educational Psychologist, Spain.


Franz Bogner

Full Professor (Chair of Biology Education), University of Bayreuth and Committee chairman of the M!ND-Center of the University of Würzburg, Germany.


Letizia Cinganotto

Full-time Researcher at the National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research (INDIRE), Rome, Italy.


C. P. Constantinou

Professor in Science Education and Director of the Learning in Science Group at the University of Cyprus, President of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA).


Marie Doyon

Manager of La Fabrique du Regard, LE BAL, Paris


Katja Maass

Researcher and educator, leader of international projects in mathematics and science education, Germany.


Annette Honan

Education Officer, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Ireland.


Janet Looney

Director, European Institute of Education and Social Policy (EIESP) and joint editor of the European Journal of Education.


Ben Murray

Post-Primary Director with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), Dublin, Ireland.


Lise Dissing Møller


Lasse Remmer

EUN Lead Ambassador at Future Classroom Lab in Campus Carlsberg, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Karien Vermeulen

Head of Programme of Waag Society’s LEARN lab, Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter

Queen Maud University College, Norway.


Alessandro Bortolotti

Researcher, University of Bologna, Italy.


Christophe Caron

Digital project manager, Ministry of education, France.


Susanne Hofmann

Architect, Die Baupiloten BDA, Germany.


David Landspersky

Jurta Nature Kindergarten, Czech Republic.


Julie Velissaratou

Consultant to the OECD on Effective Learning Environments, Greece.


Jenni Alisaari

Department of Teacher Education, University of Turku, Finland.


Sarah Breslin

Executive Director of the European Centre for Modern Languages, Austria.


Nell Foster

CLIL advisor at the Université libre de Bruxelles and PhD researcher at the Centre for Diversity and Learning, Ghent University


Graham Seed

Secretariat Manager, Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE).


Yves Punie

Deputy Head of Unit, European Commission Joint Research Centre in Seville, Unit Human Capital and Employment.


Marcelino Cabrera

Senior researcher, Human Capital and Employment Unit, Joint Research Centre, European Commission.


Practical information


12 - 13 November 2019


Boulevard Adolphe Max 118-126, 1000, Brussels, Belgium



How to reach the conference venue?

From the airport

Hôtel Le Plaza is located about 30 minutes from Brussels airport.

  • By train: the airport train station is located below the terminal (level -1). Connections to Brussels North station.

From the Midi train station

  • By metro: take the line 2 or 6 to the Rogier station (direction Simonis or Elisabeth). Get off at Rogier station.

From the North train station

  • By tram: take the line 3 or 4 (direction Churchill or Stalle). Get off at Rogier station.
  • By foot: take the rue du Progrès down to Place Rogier. Hôtel Le Plaza is on the right side of the boulevard Adolphe Max. (10 minutes walk).

From the Central train station

  • By metro: take the line 1 or 5 (direction Gare de l’Ouest or Erasme). Get off at De Brouckère station and walk towards Hôtel Le Plaza.

By Car

Important information: most GPS are not up to date. To reach the hotel, take the Boulevard Emile Jacqmain, rue du Pont Neuf to go up on Adolphe Max. The hotel has a secure parking with valet service.

For more information, please check
Website of the Brussels Public Transport.

Conference Language

The conference language will be English.

Online registration

Registration for this conference is by invitation only.
The deadline for registration was 25 October 2019.

Travel and Accommodation

Travel and accommodation is organized by CECOFORMA.


Two coffee breaks, buffet lunch and cocktail dinner are provided on the first day of the conference, 12 November. Morning coffee break is provided on the second day of the conference, 13 November.


For further questions related to the event, please contact: