Pathways to School Success - Eurochild welcomes EU ambition to improve education outcomes for all children

Eurochild’s response to the release of the Commission proposal for a Council Recommendation on Pathways to School Success

On 30 June, the European Commission published its proposal for a Council Recommendation on ‘Pathways to School Success’, aiming to enhance the inclusive dimension of education.

Eurochild has influenced the development of this initiative through a child-rights lens, drawing on our work with the Including Children Affected by Migration (ICAM) project and the First Years, First Priority campaign on early childhood development.

Our substantial contribution has included high level advocacy events on education inequality, public and online consultations with position papers focused on inclusive education and early childhood development, and participation in the Commission’s Expert Working Group on Schools, which means we will also support the implementation of this new initiative.

Our Response

Eurochild welcomes the Commission's proposal for an ambitious change agenda to ensure that all learners across the EU have the opportunity to succeed and reach their potential, irrespective of their personal characteristics.

At Eurochild, we champion the need to invest in children, prevention and early intervention, and accessible & equitable key services to break the cycle of child poverty. We welcome that the Pathways Initiative recognises the centrality of poverty in determining outcomes in education: “Socio-economic background of learners and their family continues to be the strongest determinant of educational outcomes, pointing to a persistent risk of intergenerational transmission of disadvantage and reduced upwards social mobility for learners from more disadvantaged backgrounds”.

We also welcome that this Recommendation makes clear links to other relevant EU tools, such as the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the European Child Guarantee that are essential to ensure increase public investment in tackling child poverty and improving well-being.

The Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal provides practical guidance to help policymakers and stakeholders to fully understand issues surrounding school success and to support positive change across systems and across Europe. Eurochild’s recommendations form part of this guidance:

  • highlighting children’s own concerns around mental health and well-being in education through our Our Europe, Our Rights, Our Future consultation;
  • identifying poverty and social exclusion as key obstacles for the school success of some learners.

Finally, our Position Paper outlined 3 chief asks for this Initiative, and we are pleased to see all incorporated in the Commission Proposal:

  • A clear framework for action at school and systems level to ensure well-being and inclusive education are prioritised.
  • Targeting disadvantaged groups who are more at risk of underachievement and early school leaving, including children with disabilities, with a migrant background or minority ethnic status, from low-educated families, children in alternative care and children living in remote areas.
  • Involving the voices of children in its development, implementation and evaluation, especially those who are the most disadvantaged and marginalised by current education systems.

What’s missing? Strengthening the child rights and early childhood dimensions

Under its international dimension, the centrality of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are highlighted. However, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is noticeably absent. Including the UNCRC will strengthen the link between children’s rights and the EU’s agenda for inclusive education.

Another area not sufficiently addressed in the Pathways proposal is the need to invest in early years: in nurturing care for all very young children, family support, ensuring equitable access to quality early childhood education and care (ECEC), and including a focus on children’s very early years, including those under three. These factors are also essential for ensuring children’s healthy development and success for their lifelong learning. Data analysis from the First Years, First Priority campaign demonstrates the need to guarantee universal access to ECEC services, particularly for children under three and those most in need.

Eurochild stands ready to support its implementation and help realise all children’s rights to access inclusive education systems.

Further reading:

For more information, contact Ciaran O’Donnell, Policy and Project Officer, from the Eurochild Secretariat.

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