Study on supporting school innovation across Europe

Ensuring that every child reaches his or her potential is a top priority for European education policymakers. To achieve this, education systems need to become more flexible and dynamic, supporting innovative approaches to learning and teaching that will enable schools and their systems to keep pace with the rapid societal and economic changes ‒ and make high-quality education a reality for all.

Many schools across Europe are breaking free from traditional views of schooling, challenging conventional boundaries in terms of time and space, as well as teaching and learning processes. The diversity of their innovative approaches demonstrates the numerous ways in which education can transform not only what, but also how children learn.

The Study on supporting school innovation across Europe offers a comprehensive review of existing research and school innovation policies across the 28 EU Member States. The study includes 12 in-depth case studies of 24 successful schools from disadvantaged regions across the EU.

Main findings

What drives innovation in schools?

The study reveals that innovative schools develop school cultures with the following key characteristics:

  • Supportive and distributed school leadership that ensures a working environment of trust, and opportunities for professional development, collaborative research and peer-learning practices
  • The preparedness, commitment and professionalism of teachers, and support for their engagement in collaboration, reflective and professional learning practices
  • A shared vision for school development, accompanied by detailed internal strategies and action plans
  • Engaged students as active participants in the process of change
  • Openness towards their local communities and wider partnerships

Supporting sustainable innovation across education systems

For schools to develop these characteristics, the whole education system must innovate. This requires:

  • A coherent policy framework covering key areas such as curriculum, school autonomy and accountability measures, teacher and school leader professional development systems and funding policies, supported by a long-term vision to embed innovation into school education and ensure system-wide transformation
  • Policies co-constructed with key stakeholders who are directly affected by these new developments
  • Coherence and clarity as to the way in which different initiatives and policies relate to each other and contribute to the realisation of a common vision for school innovation
  • Policy strategies that are underpinned by supportive initiatives and concrete measures consistent with the overall policy framework and vision, and which help to develop the capacity of schools to manage and sustain change

Evidence demonstrates that schools are more likely to develop a culture of innovation when they:

  • Possess sufficient autonomy over curriculum, teaching methods, staff management and financial resources
  • Are horizontally accountable
  • Have the capacity and opportunities to engage in partnerships and networks
  • Are supported by relevant professional development systems for teachers and school leaders

Countries that succeed in transforming their education systems are those in which sustainable investment is ensured in the key areas covered by educational reforms. These countries also strengthen their evaluation framework, promoting a culture of self-evaluation and developing the capacity of education stakeholders to use and interpret monitoring data.

Learn More

  • A full report explores the conditions in the school education system that can enable or constrain positive change in schools
  • 12 case studies explore the national approaches and individual school innovations. They include the perspectives of key national education experts and stakeholders who were interviewed and took part in workshops
  • 24 individual profiles give a quick view of the changes and experiences in each school

FULL REPORT: Study on supporting school innovation across Europe

Prepared by PPMI for the European Commission and published in 2018

Croatia Vežice, Rijeka Zadar School, Zadar County
Estonia Kiviõli I. Keskkool, Kiviõli Jõgevamaa Gümnaasium, Jõgeva
Germany Wolfgang-Borchert-School, Berlin Friedenauer Community School, Berlin
Greece 4th Primary School of Thiva, Viotia County 2nd Primary School of Aliartos, Viotia County
Hungary Nyitott Ajtó / Open Door, Miskolc IV. Bela Primary School, Hejőkeresztúr
Italy I.C. Ugo Foscolo, Taormina (Sicily) Papa Giovanni XXIII, Acireale, Catania (Sicily)
Lithuania Vyturys progymnasium, Panevėžys Salduvės progymnasium, Šiauliai
Netherlands De Tjotter, Lelystad Warande, Lelystad
Romania Școala Gimnazială ‘I. L. Caragiale’, Tulcea Colegiul Economic Buzău
Spain Clara Campoamor Infant and Primary School (CEIP), Granada Sierra Nevada Primary School, Granada
Sweden Centralskolan, Arvika Kyrkebyskolan, Arvika
United Kingdom President Kennedy School and Community College, Coventry Willenhall Community Primary School, Coventry

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY in English / French / German

ANNEX 1 - Overview of case study innovations

ANNEX 2 - Methodology and tools used in the research