Published on February 29th, 2016 | by ECSWE0
First meeting of the ET 2020 Working Group Schools
On February 22nd and 23rd the first meeting of the newly formed working group took place in the Philippe le Bon Building of the European Commission. The Commission started this kind of consultation in 2002. After some years, for getting a closer connection and improved exchange of ideas and information, a renewal was arranged in 2014. Among other changes, the number of groups was reduced from 11 to 6, to focus the work on some major fields. The new groups had a duration of a period of 2½ years, which therefore made a further renewal of the groups necessary in 2016.
46 experts were invited to the new ET 2020 Working Group Schools; about 40 of them are newcomers in this group. This situation has given rise to a very lively working atmosphere of highly committed people. The first meeting was moderated and structured by the staff of the Commission Unit „EAC.B.2, Schools and educators; multilingualism“. They set four key themes:
- Management of networks and optimization of resources
- Quality assurance
- The development of teachers and school leaders
- Continuity of skills development and transition across school levels
Most of the work was performed in small working groups of 4 to 6 people. Each person had to work in different groups, covering all the 4 topics for a certain time. The formation of the groups changed each time, which helped us to get to know quite a lot of the participants in person. All results were collected on flip charts and were later discussed in the plenum.
The way to cope with the key themes was intentionally left very open to the groups. During the course of the meeting the discussions revealed some important issues underlying all other themes. They can be summarized by cooperation and development in a very broad sense on all different layers of the educational field.
The concept of cooperation was understood as regarding activity among teachers, with parents, with other schools and finally with the municipality and the government. The initial activity was seen within the pedagogical collaboration among teachers: coming away from the image of the teacher as lone fighter. In the same sense all forms of inter-connectedness across school borders were seen as opportunities to open up life in the school to the life in the surrounding society. Thus any kind of network can be the driving force behind systematic innovation.
This keyword – innovation – was seen as describing a great challenge of the schools: their tendency towards stagnation, meaning a lack of initiative for change according to societal development.
Although the majority of participants represented administrations of ministries, all agreed that development could only be successful if it is seen as an intrinsic process and as continuous effort. Legislation has to encourage teachers towards implementing change and should deliver appropriate incentives for this bottom-up process. For all involved parties this means a change in their mindset. A balance has to be found between political demands on the one hand and teacher ownership for development and innovation on the other.
Standing behind all these ideas – as a basic motto – was: students first and then the system! From a Waldorf perspective we can easily relate to these basic objectives and engage in line with this approach. I experienced a friendly openness to our educational approach. This is a good premise for future fruitful work in the group.
The group then proceeded to put these basic ideas into structured tasks for the next time. This process will go on and soon will lead to very concrete remits. The next of the three annual meetings will already take place in April.
February 25th 2016
European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education