Key Competence Development in School Education in Europe: KeyCoNet's review of the literature: a summary

Rose Cook, Harriet Weaving

12 June 2013

Download report from KeyCoNet's website

KeyCoNet (the European Policy Network on the Implementation of Key Competences in School Education, coordinated by European Schoolnet and funded by the European Commission) commissioned NFER to produce this summary, which collates the findings of their earlier literature reviews on key competence development and assessment.

The aim of the summary was to provide a user-friendly version of the literature reviews, to aid policy makers and education practitioners in thinking about implementing key competences in school education. The views and recommendations presented reflect the conclusions drawn by the authors of the original literature reviews.

The summary provides an accessible definition of key competences, describes how they are included in national curricula and implemented in schools, and discusses some of the potential challenges to implementation.

Key Findings

  • Key competences are combinations of knowledge, skills and attitudes, which facilitate the application of knowledge to real world contexts.
  • The most common approach to implementing key competences in national curricula is to specify them in terms of a cross-curricular framework, where they are present alongside all subjects.
  • A commonly recommended approach to teaching key competences is toprovide interactive learning environments that facilitate active learning.These environments present open-ended problems and challenges to be solved through debate, experimentation, exploration and creativity, and are often collaborative and enhanced by technology.
  • The assessment of key competences should be given due attention by policy makers and practitioners and should be a key element of teacher training and development. Efforts should be made to pilot and evaluated different assessment methods.
  • The challenge for policy makers is how to widen schools’ access to innovative practice that promotes key competence development. The challenge for schoolsis how to widen individual learner access to these practices.

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