School education of the future

Image: Khakimullin Aleksandr /

Trying to define school education of the future is both popular and difficult. One approach can be to think about changing learning environments, including the use of digital tools. Another is to consider teaching and learning of a range of competences. In this article we highlight three examples of initiatives that promote forward-looking teaching and learning.

Schools for Future Youth: taking action on global issues

Young people need to have shared values to achieve cohesive societies in the future.

The Schools for Future Youth is an Erasmus+ project that aspires to support students, teachers and school leaders as well as policy makers and civil society organisations, in terms of maximizing curriculum and citizenship engagement. It brings together teachers and students from across Europe to create networks that deal with and raise awareness on issues like climate change, food, education for all, health, inequality, refugees, and humanitarian aid.

The project has produced innovative resources for teachers on how to use youth participation and global citizenship effectively, and for students to support their reflection on social global action through formal and informal education. All these resources can be found at the Schools for Future Youth Toolkit in five languages. Teachers and students can exchange ideas through the youth wall, develop their skills (public speaking, writing for others, finding information, planning, decision-making, etc.), create ambassador groups, learn about global citizenship education, and find useful links and references. Also an SFYouth app is available for Android devices.

The project partners are mainly non-governmental organisations from the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland and Cyprus.

Learning labs: Exploring the potential of technology and space in education 

According to the Reggio Emilia approach, the learning environment is the “third teacher,” meaning that the space where learning happens can either uplift or shut down learning. A good learning environment inspires collaboration, communication and creativity.

The Portuguese network of learning labs (Laboratórios de Aprendizagem) was born as a spontaneous initiative out of schools’ enthusiasm to develop and explore the use of non-traditional learning environments in their teaching. Today the network counts over 20 labs across the country and is coordinated by the education ministry’s Educational Resources and Technology team (ERTE). The Portuguese network was originally inspired by Future Classroom Lab developed by European Schoolnet.

Learning labs are flexible learning spaces and allow for easy reconfiguration according to the needs of the learning activity. They aim to host innovative teaching and learning that involves new pedagogical approaches – such as project-based and inquiry-based learning –, development of transversal skills and technology-enhanced learning. Learning labs allow both teachers and students to explore alternative learning experiences that can involve stages of investigation, creation and presentation of the learning outcomes through active participation and collaboration. All learning labs are different since they have been created and adapted to the local context and to provide for local needs.

Find online more information about the activities of the Portuguese network, interesting resources, and the webinar with the first Portuguese teacher who built his own learning lab.

Escola Nova 21 – The school characteristics of a new era

Escola Nova 21 is a three-year programme (2016-2019) to create an alliance for an advanced education system in Catalonia. The inspiration behind this initiative was UNESCO’s invitation to civil society institutions to contribute to the promotion of educational transformation that will respond more efficiently to today's global challenges.

At the heart of the programme is the objective of moving beyond the transmission model of teaching and enable children and young people to enjoy learning experiences that are relevant and meaningful, that improve their ability to live lives of dignity, capacity and well-being.

The programme has identified 25 innovative schools to form a group of exemplars, that show the way for almost 500 other participating schools.

The programme is based on an Advanced School Framework that sets a common horizon for the participating schools and that evolves around four key characteristics:

  1. Education designed to provide competences for life.
  2. Learning practices based on the knowledge of how people learn, designed to become advanced educational experiences.
  3. Mechanisms of evaluation that will assess the performance not only of the capacity to learn but of the full range of competences involved in a holistic conception of education. 
  4. An autonomous and open school organisation that has the flexibiliy to update and adapt its educational action. 

The partners of the project are the Center for UNESCO of Catalonia, the Jaume Bofill Foundation, the Barcelona Provincial Council, the Open University of Catalonia, and “la Caixa” Foundation.

To learn more about the progress of this inspiring programme you can find more information, news, videos and events at the teaching network section of the website and also follow the Twitter hashtag #TransformacióEducativa.

Further reading

To discover ongoing and past EU-funded projects in school education, please go to the Erasmus+ Project Results Platform.