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You can find the  links to the most recent issues here:

Volume 53, No. 4, November 2018
Reconceptualising system transitions in education for marginalised and vulnerable groups
Guest Editors: Paul Downes, Erna Nairz‐Wirth, Jim Anderson

Volume 53, No. 3, September 2018
Learner agency at the confluence between rights-based approaches and well-being
Guest Editor: Jean Gordon

Volume 53, No. 2 June 2018
Special Issue: Are Student Assessments Fit For Their Purposes?
Guest Editor: Janet Looney

Volume 53, No. 1. March 2018
Special Issue: Innovative approaches to Continuous Professional Development in Early Childhood Education and Care. A European perspective.
Guest Editors: Brecht Peleman, Bente Jensen and Jan Peeters

Volume 52, No. 4 December 2017
Special Issue: Education for people, prosperity and planet: Can we meet the sustainability challenges?
Guest Editor: Aaron Benavot

Volume 52, No. 3 September 2017
Title: Participatory Design for (Built) Learning Environments
Guest Editors: Karen D. Könings and Susan McKenney

Volume 52, No. 2 June 2017
Title: The Influence of PISA on Education Policies
Guest Editors: Alain Michel and Xavier Pons

Volume 52, No.1 March 2017
Title : Higher education learning outcomes - transforming higher education ?
Guest Editors : Joakim Caspersen and Nicoline Frolich

Volume 51, No.4 December 2016
Title: Governance Dynamics in Complex Decentralised Education Systems
Guest Editors: Edith Hooge

Volume 51, No 3 September 2016
Title : Vocational Schooling and Social Exclusion in the Western Balkans
Guest Editors : Claire Gordon and Will Bartlett

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Key competences in Europe: Opening doors for lifelong learners across the school curriculum and teacher education (2008-2009)

Type of project/activity:

This study focused on the development, conceptualisation and implementation of key competences in the 27 member states at the different levels of decision-making, of practice in the field including for teacher education. 


The aim of the study is to provide a comparative overview of policy and practice concerning the development and implementation of key competences in the education systems of the 27 Member States of the European Union. In particular, the study assesses the implementation of the 8 key competences contained in the European Reference Framework of Key Competences in primary and secondary schools across the EU as well as the extent to which initial and in-service education and training of teachers equips them with the skills and competences necessary to deliver key competences effectively.


Recent EU work builds on the significant contributions to the development of the definition of key competences and competence-based education which have been made by other international organisations. UNESCO contributed to the United Nations' programme ‘Education for All’ by setting up the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century. This led to the 1996 report 'Learning: the Treasure Within', which concluded that learning must contribute to the all-round development of each individual and defined four pillars of education: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, and learning to be. The OECD DeSeCo (Definition and Selection of Competences) project had quite significant influence on the work on competence frameworks in the EU, both in numerous Member States and in the debates and collaboration at the European level. It defined the aim of key competencies as contributing to a successful life for individuals and a well-functioning society and the project classified key competences in three broad categories (using tools interactively, interacting in heterogeneous groups and acting autonomously).

The study was carried out at a time when the European stakeholders were deliberating on the strategic framework of European cooperation in education and training, relating to the implementation of the revised Lisbon Strategy for the years 2010-2020. The European partners consider that the acquisition of key competences is a decisive factor contributing to the well-being of individual citizens as well as to social cohesion and to the development of the economy. This study confirms the importance of the development of key competences in the education systems of the Member States. This applies both to approaches to developing the school curriculum and to young people's acquisition of key competences as they progress through their countries' systems of mainstream schooling. The study emphasises that the implementation of key competences in school practice is a complex and demanding process. It calls for a new pedagogy of competence development, which can already be seen in innovative aspects of theory and practice in Member States.


The study was undertaken by a consortium composed of the project leader CASE (Centre for Economic and Social Analysis, Poland), working in partnership with QCA (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, United Kingdom), EIESP (European Institute for Education and Social Policy, France), the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain) and two Hungarian experts from Eötvös Loránd University and Pannonia University.

Main activities:

The methods used for the study comprise a literature review, the elaboration of country fiches for the 27 Member States and the preparation of six country case studies. The literature review clarifies the major concepts and issues relating to the identification of key competences. The country fiches (which are not included in the final report) provided a useful and reasonably consistent dossier of data for each of the Member States for the analysis, while the six case studies look in more depth at key competence policies and practice in Finland, France, Hungary, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The European Reference Framework of Key Competences was defined in the Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning adopted by the Council and the European Parliament in December 2006 as a result of five years of work by experts and government representatives collaborating within the Open Method of Coordination. The Recommendation defines 8 key competences:

  • Communication in the mother tongue;
  • Communication in foreign languages;
  • Mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology;
  • Digital competence;
  • Learning to learn;
  • Social and civic competences;
  • Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship; and
  • Cultural awareness and expression.

This study covers all the competences, while taking a particular focus on the last five, which are cross-curricular in nature. These key competences are not finite and their development should be supported by transversal skills such as critical thinking, creativity, initiative, problem solving, risk assessment, decision-making and the constructive management of feelings.


Name of programme, funder or client:

Study undertaken for the Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission
Contract 2007-2090/001-001 TRA TRSPO - CASE, Poland


Expected outcomes, reports/documents:

J. Gordon, G. Halasz, M. Krawczyk, T. Leney, A. Michel, D. Pepper, E. Putkiewicz, J. Wisniewski, Key Competences in Europe: Opening doors for lifelong learners across the school curriculum and teacher education, study undertaken for the Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission 

For more information see the website of Center for Social and Economic Research.  

For more information please contact Jean Gordon ( and Alain Michel (