03 SES 14 A, Curriculum Change and the Key Competences
Key competences are described by the European Commission as combinations of knowledge, skills and attitudes, which facilitate the application of knowledge to real world contexts. Individuals need them in order to function effectively in the 21st century (Lawn & Grek, 2012). Eight key competences are seen as essential by the European Framework; these are communication in the mother tongue, communication in (multiple) foreign languages, math competence and basic competences in science and technology, digital competences, learning to learn, social and civic competences, sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, and cultural awareness and expression. There is a range of terminology used to refer to “key competences” in EU member states, which sometimes reflects differences in emphasis and contexts. Alongside social and economic changes, there are three main theoretical influences that have shaped the development of key competences as a policy objective; these are a social perspective on education, and ideas about workplace competences (Gordon et al., 2012).
Key competences came onto the policy agenda in EU member states at different times over the last two decades partly through the influence of European Commission and OECD research (Gordon et al., 2012). Their particular manifestation is shaped by a member state’s history, prevalent educational philosophy and educational structures. There has been some debate about the ideological focus of key competences. As such, there is no common model across EU member states for the incorporation of key competences into national curricula. They are often conceived of in terms of a cross curricular approach, rather than treated as separate subjects (Pepper, 2011). In order to integrate key competences into an existing curriculum, decisions need to be made about how they sit in relation to existing subjects; whether one set of key competences applies to all learners or whether different sets are needed according to age or grade; and whether key competences can be acquired in a cumulative fashion, and therefore whether progression routes should be specified.
The Key Competence Network (KeyCoNet) is a European Policy Network on the Implementation of Key Competence Development (KCD) in School Education. This project aims to analyze the implementation process for key competence development in various European countries in general education at primary and secondary level. The network includes a total of 18 partners from 10 European countries focused on identifying and analysing emergent strategies in implementing key competences into education reforms, and on this basis aims to produce recommendations for policy and practice. The objective is to identify, analyze and map key competence development initiatives and their implementation strategies across Europe and to effectively impact on policy and practice by increasing the network's influence through dissemination and enlarging its membership.
This network of partners includes nine Ministries in charge of education or national agencies specialised in curriculum and assessment issues, inspectorates and school heads representatives, and seven university departments, some of them specialised in key competences issues, others providing teacher training; two European partners; Ministries connecting departments/national agencies in charge of curriculum development, teacher training, student assessment, learning resources, etc. In fact, the network aims to bring together those able to make strategic and potentially systemic decisions (Ministries) in cooperation with practitioners (teacher trainers, inspectorates), and grounded by evidence (university departments); in addition, individual scientific experts will also be associated to this partnership.
University of Minho, Portugal
Dabrowski, M., and Wisniewski, J. (2011). Translating key competences into the school curriculum: lessons from the Polish experience. European Journal of Education, 46(3). European Commission (2007). Key Competences for Lifelong Learning: European Reference Framework. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Gordon, J., Rey, O., Siewiorek, A., Vivitsou, M., and von Reis Saari, J (2012) KeyCoNet 2012 Literature Review: Key competence development in school education in Europe. Brussels: European Schoolnet. Lawn, M. & Grek, S. (2012). Europeanizing Education - governing a new policy space. Oxford: UK, Symposium Books. Niemi, H., Kynäslahti, H., and Vahtivuori-Hänninen, S. (2012). Towards ICT everyday life in Finnish schools: seeking conditions for good practices. Learning, Media and Technology, DOI:10.1080/17439884.2011.651473 Pepper, D. (2011). Assessing Key Competences across the Curriculum — and Europe. European Journal of Education, 46(3), 335-354. Tinoca, L., Gomes, M.J. & Valente, L. (2013) The EduScracth KCD case study. Brussels: European Schoolnet.
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