Skip to main content

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.

On this page:

Current challenges

In the European Union (EU), there are significant challenges hindering educational progress:

  • Basic skills deficiency: 30% of 15-year-olds lack sufficient competences in mathematics and one in four under-perform in reading or science (OECD PISA survey, 2022)
  • Early leaving: around 3.1 million young people in the EU have not completed their education and training (Eurostat, 2022)
  • Safety at school: 1 in 10 students reported not feeling safe at school and 20% of students reported being bullied at least a few times a month

Socio-economic and cultural background continue to strongly affect pupils’ educational outcomes. Children with vulnerable background perform, on average, worse than their more privileged schoolmates. Additionally, there's a concerning decline in pupils’ well-being, exacerbated by widespread bullying and cyber-bullying, impacting both development and educational achievement.

The COVID-19 pandemic has likely contributed to the performance drop observed between 2018 and 2022. It has certainly made these challenges even more visible and urgent.

Read more

Council Recommendation on Pathways to School Success

The Council Recommendation on Pathways to School Success, adopted in 2022, seeks to address these challenges.

Key recommendations for EU countries include:

  • Systemic approach: simultaneously address underachievement in basic skills and early leaving from education and training, take action to promote students’ and teachers’ well-being, prevent bullying and favour a positive learning climate.
  • Integrated and comprehensive strategies: develop or strengthen strategies that include prevention, intervention and compensation measures (but with a stronger emphasis on preventative actions) through all levels of school education.
  • Attention for groups at risk: complement universal action with targeted and individualised provisions for learners requiring additional support in inclusive settings.
  • Data collection: develop or improve data collection and monitoring systems at national, regional and local level.

A systemic approach: implementing change

The Recommendation proposes a new policy framework describing a systemic approach for improving school success. This framework provides guidance for policy makers and education practitioners. It outlines:

  • conditions for effective action
  • key measures, to be promoted at school, local, regional and national levels
  • specific actions for supporting school leaders, teachers, trainers and other educational staff

Next steps and related initiatives

Working group

The Commission supports the implementation of the Recommendation through peer learning, cooperation and exchanges of information and experiences between EU countries, stakeholders and partner countries. It has created a dedicated sub-group on this topic, as part of the Working Group on Schools.


Actions and initiatives related to the Recommendation receive funding through Erasmus+. 


The Commission and EU countries are cooperating in developing new guidance material and resources on educational success for all learners, which are disseminated through the European School Education Platform and its European toolkit for inclusion and well-being at school.

Well-being at school

Since March 2023, an expert group is working on guidelines for policymakers and schools to help them promote systemic approaches to well-being and mental health at school.


Ongoing Horizon Europe research projects support the implementation of the Council Recommendation.