Supporting innovation in schools: European study develops key messages


In October 2016, we reported on a study that is examining the conditions and processes supporting different examples of innovation, in and by schools in Europe. The study is now coming to its end and the preview of the emerging findings is available.

In the study, 24 case study schools in 12 regions generously opened their doors to researchers to help better understand their challenges and successes, and share these experiences with the wider education community. The study also brought together research evidence from across the world to support the analysis, with the aim of gathering evidence that can support schools, regions and ministries in their future development of school education.

Schools and school education systems that learn 

Many of these schools actively spread practices from one area to another and to other schools, in order to widen the positive impact on learners. Professional development and the support teachers get to boost their confidence and capacity are important aspects of the innovation process.

The study has shown how important it is for schools to have some level of autonomy and be flexible to try new approaches depending on the learners they are responsible for. The challenge is to organise appropriate evaluation so that other schools and the school system in general can better understand, trust, and learn from these approaches.

Leadership and different stakeholders working together

The will, vision and management skills of both the head teacher and other teachers are highlighted in the study as a key driver of the innovation process. Schools that have successfully developed innovative practices for the benefit of their learners also engage with other actors: the parents, the local community services, regional authorities, businesses, universities and the pupils themselves.

A key challenge for policy makers is to create a stable and supportive policy framework for schools and school staff – particularly regarding their responsibilities and working conditions – and 'smart' funding for schools that is complementary to an already good basic level of resources.

Short profiles of the 24 schools and their experiences and achievements will be available on this platform within the European Toolkit for Schools from September 2017. The final report will be published at the end of 2017. You can read more about schools as learning organisations in this paper by the OECD.