The European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education


Published on May 15th, 2017 | by ECSWE


Our position on the revision of the key competences

Towards a human-centred education:
7 priorities for the revision of the Key Competences Framework

Brussels, 15 May, 2017
ECSWE welcomes the ongoing revision of the European Framework for Key Competences for Lifelong Learning as an opportunity for a profound shift in paradigm towards holistic and human-centred education.

Since the adoption of the European Framework for Key Competences for Lifelong Learning in 2006, many European countries have undertaken policy reforms to introduce competence-based teaching and learning in formal education. To adapt the framework to the manifold societal challenges in the political, social, economic, ecological and technological field and to ensure its sustainability, the framework is currently under review. Once that revision is complete, we may well expect a similar follow-up at national level.

We are convinced that a revised and well implemented key competences framework may contribute to both educating healthy and happy children and establishing and sustaining a thriving civil society. This would require a true shift of paradigm towards a learner-centred and holistic pedagogical approach that emphasises social and civic competences, values and nurtures the arts and crafts, supports the development of creativity and allows each individual to unfold and develop its unique personality and potential.

To make the most of this process, ECSWE would like to suggest the following 7 priorities for a human-centred key competences framework:

  1. Commit to a holistic approach: Holistic education seeks to address “heads, hearts and hands”. To this end, physical and emotional capacities are nurtured alongside purely mental and intellectual abilities. A revised framework should put more emphasis on health, wellbeing, arts & crafts and social capacities. Furthermore, we suggest a redefinition of the mathematical and scientific competence and communication in foreign languages according to our proposals (see annexes 1, 2 & 3).
  2. Make personal development a priority: Not even cognitive competence can be installed in students from outside. Concepts must be given the chance to arise in each student individually, just as plants only grow from seeds in watered soil that is warmed and lighted by the sun. Warmth of soul, the light of inquiry and the flow of conversation can tend the soil of personal development within the classroom. As proponents of a development-oriented pedagogical approach, we wholeheartedly support the idea of transforming the competence “learning to learn” into a broadly defined competence on personal development.
  3. Emphasise the importance of relationships: The ability to build meaningful and healthy relationships with others is an important life-skill that should be supported by highlighting it as an important aspect of personal development and social competence.
  4. Ensure an age-appropriate and critical media pedagogy: In contrast to others calling for an early introduction of digital technology to foster digital competence, we believe that the promotion of creativity, the strengthening of the will and the thorough acquisition of basic skills such as literacy and numeracy, combined with the ability of critical and independent thinking, are important preconditions for making meaningful, conscious and selective use of digital technology. We therefore call for an age- and developmentally appropriate implementation of the digital competence.
  5. Make more room for arts and creativity: The competence “cultural awareness and expression” should better explain how practicing art like painting, sculpting, music, drama or literature and poetry can become an important means of self-expression but also of acquiring important competences. Many beneficial side effects are also ignored: The creation of a piece of art requires persistence, a strong will and focus, and gradually reinforces these important skills and capacities through regular practice. Moreover practicing art can develop the important competence of acting adequately in new and unexpected situations.
  6. Ensure pluralism in assessing the key competences: Standardised tests are not the right tools to assess the key competences holistically, as they measure at best a narrow range of traditional competences, and give incentives to merely teach to the test. They are therefore not suited for exploiting the full potential of the framework. A variety of different assessment methods, and in particular formative assessment, should be further explored and used.​ Assessment should become a tool for personal growth and development that gives insight in one’s learning processes and allows for critical reflection and self-reflection.
  7. Allow for flexible implementation at school level:
    One of the strengths of the key competences framework is its general character that allows for adaptation tailored to the local contexts. We therefore recommend its flexible implementation respecting both the principle of subsidiarity and school autonomy.

[ Download: ECSWE Position on the Key Competences revision including annexes ]

Photo: Competence, by Nick Youngson. License: CC BY-SA 3.0


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  • ECSWE Newsletter 51, May 2018

    In this volume:
    • - The ELIANT Petition for age-appropriate media education;
    • - A Parliament resolution calling for educational choice;
    • - News from the ET2020 Working Group Schools;
    • - Reports of the last two Council meetings in Dornach and Cracow;
    • - Domestic reports: from Italy and the Netherlands;
    • - An update on the WOW-Day 2017;
  • Factsheet 2017/18

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