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European Education Area

Quality education and training for all

Pathways to School Success

Promoting better educational outcomes for all and well-being at school

School education can play a crucial role in promoting inclusive, fairer and more prosperous societies and economies. It helps children and young people to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to become responsible, resilient and engaged individuals and to have a fulfilling life. 

These goals can only be achieved if education systems are truly equitable and inclusive. They must ensure that all learners have a chance to fulfil their potential irrespective of personal circumstances, family, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. However, today not all young people in Europe have equal opportunities to benefit from education.

The challenges

Despite the importance of basic skills, in the European Union (EU) one in five 15 year olds do not possess sufficient competences in reading, mathematics or science (OECD PISA survey, 2018). Early leavers from education and training represent around 10% of young people in the EU and only 84.3% of 20-24 year olds have completed upper secondary education (Eurostat, 2020). 

Socio-economic and cultural background are still the strongest determinants of pupils’ educational outcomes. Children from poorer areas and families perform worse on average in school compared to their more privileged schoolmates. In addition, there are worrying signs that pupils’ well-being is declining and cyber-bullying is widespread, with detrimental effects on pupils’ development and educational achievement (OECD PISA Survey, 2018).

The COVID-19 pandemic has made these challenges even more visible and urgent (European Commission, 2022).

About the Commission’s proposal

To support Member States in addressing these challenges, on 30 June 2022, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council Recommendation on Pathways to School Success, which is accompanied by a Staff working document

Building on lessons learned from past work, insights from research and broad consultation activities, this initiative aims to promote better educational outcomes for all learners, irrespective of who they are or where they come from. It seeks to contribute to achieving two EU-level targets on reducing the share of low-achievers in basic skills and that of early leavers from education and training. The initiative also promotes the well-being of learners and educators at school.

The Commission proposal encourages Member States to reinforce the development of integrated and comprehensive strategies for school success, addressing all levels of school education and including prevention, intervention and compensation measures. Member States are also invited to combine universal actions with more targeted, individualised provisions for learners requiring additional attention and support, and to place a strong focus on data collection and monitoring.

The proposal sets out a policy framework for a systemic approach to school success, which can inspire EU Member States when developing inclusive school education strategies. The framework outlines overarching conditions and key enablers for effective action. It proposes a set of policy measures, to be implemented at the system and school level to promote a whole-institution approach. It also details specific actions to support school leaders, teachers, trainers and other educational staff and to foster conditions promoting learners’ success.

The policies presented are built on strong cross-sectoral collaboration and involve stakeholders from policy areas including youth, culture, sport, social and welfare policy, employment and health.

Related initiatives

A new expert group on strategies for creating supportive learning environments for groups at risk of underachievement and to promote well-being at school will contribute to the implementation of this new initiative.

Erasmus+ programme

Inclusive education, improving performance in basic skills and reducing early leaving from education and training are central to the 2021-2027 Erasmus+ programme.

The recent study: Data collection and analysis of Erasmus+ projects mapped good practices carried out since 2014, and examined 15 case studies in depth to explore how transnational cooperation among teachers, youth workers and other actors can strengthen inclusion in education.

Next steps

National education ministers form EU Member States are currently discussing the Commission proposal and will adopt the Recommendation within the Council of the European Union.

The Commission will support the implementation of Pathways to School Success by combining different instruments to stimulate policy reform

  • providing policy guidance
  • promoting peer learning
  • information exchange and best practices
  • financial incentives
  • an enhanced ‘European Toolkit for Schools’ to disseminate resources and good practices