Empowering schools: Evidence-informed policies for quality education

On November 23rd CEPS hosted a major conference to showcase the work of the European Expert Network on Economics of Education (EENEE), coordinated by CEPS and the Munich-based ifo Institute, and the Network of Experts on the Social Dimension of Education and Training (NESET II), coordinated by PPMI. The main aim of the event was to discuss different measures that directly impact schools and to present the evidence that partner institutes in both networks have gathered on this issue. Participants debated possible policies and orientations that can lead to the empowerment of schools and ECEC services to better meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

The event was divided into an Opening Plenary Session, three parallel sessions and a Closing Plenary. The opening plenary began with a welcome note by Jens Nymand Christensen, Deputy Director General of DG EAC, followed by a keynote speech from Abigail Mc Knight from the London School of Economics on the issues of inequality and inclusion in education. Dr Knight emphasised the relevance of social background in academic outcomes, social and emotional skills, streaming and setting policies and how quality in education can easily be a race between the government and richer families.

The three parallel sessions were devoted to salient issues affecting schools: institutional frameworks; migrants, refugees and minority groups’ integration policies; and skills and competences of teachers. Researchers associated with the EENEE and NESET II networks presented their latest findings in these areas.

The Closing Plenary, moderated by Adam Tyson, Director at DG EAC, discussed the misleading discourse on the alleged trade-off between excellence and equity, observing that the two objectives are not mutually exclusive. The panellists acknowledged the challenges faced by schools and governments when implementing reforms in education and the importance of autonomy and accountability. They also cited the experience of Estonia as a country that has successfully integrated technology into its school system without sacrificing either excellence or equity.

A detailed report on the presentations and discussions will be published shortly under “Conference Materials” at: http://eenee-neset2017.onetec.eu/index.html