1.Key competencies of the 21st century
In a world that is constantly changing, especially with the development of information and communication technologies, schools are faced with the ever-changing challenge of adapting and transforming. It is essential to develop a common vision for the school system, i.e. to identify the key competencies needed to prepare young people for the challenges of the 21st century and to discuss the desirability of incorporating the key competencies of the 21st century into the national curriculum. Apart from essential cognitive skills, emphasis should also be placed on inter- and intra-personal skills, in light of a holistic approach that aims to develop informed, engaged, autonomous, and responsible citizens capable of addressing complex societal challenges.
➤ The report, which presents the state of research on key competencies for the 21st century, invites collective and participatory reflection and is part of a forward-looking approach. It was finished in July 2020.
➤ Following the methodology of the ONQS, and after an enrichment phase with actors on the ground, an international comparative conference (scheduled for 2022) will make proposals for integrating 21st century competencies into teaching and learning methods.
In this area, a recurring observation is that there is a strong correlation between educational success and students’ socioeconomic background. While students from privileged backgrounds tend to perform better academically, the phenomenon of school failure affects students from disadvantaged backgrounds to a greater extent. A major challenge for Luxembourg’s education system is to reduce social inequalities and promote equal opportunities.
➤ In collaboration with the University of Luxembourg and the LISER, the ONQS will analyse the design and use of the quota of lessons allocated to municipalities and its modulation by the social index to provide education at the basic school level.
➤ The ONQS will propose measures to improve equal opportunities based on research from scientific literature, the study of school projects, and national and international educational practices.
Entering school is an important step for children and their families. The learning that takes place in early childhood is critical for the student’s later school career, especially the acquisition of the language of instruction. Research underscores the importance of a child’s early life experiences on the various areas of their development. This period presents an opportunity to reduce social inequalities that exist between children.
➤ A first report on school entry, scheduled for publication in 2021, addresses possible measures on how to improve the quality of the pre-school period.
➤ These reflections will feed into discussions during the enrichment phase, which will encompass the entire school community, including school services, teachers and educators and families as well as children.
Multilingualism and language learning are major challenges for Luxembourg’s school system. National and international systemic evaluations highlight the impact of language learning on students’ success or failure at school.
5.Quality of life at school
School quality is multidimensional. Beyond the teaching and learning elements, addressing the quality of life of students, actors and partners in the school context is becoming a necessity for education systems. Through the concept of school climate, which refers to the quality of life at school, several dimensions can be addressed to set the framework for reflection on a quality school. These dimensions refer to the development of social skills, educational practices, adherence to norms and values supported by the school, interpersonal relationships, and feelings of equity and safety. All these dynamic elements contribute to a certain perception of the quality of life that will impact students’ academic success. The thematic report defines the concept of quality of life at school for Luxembourg by focusing on two elements:
➤ Interpersonal relations analysed from the point of view of interactions between students and teachers, which make it possible to study the socio-affective dimension between these groups of individuals.
➤ The representations and professional practices of the educational staff, which help to understand how the notion of their profession emerges and develops.
Scientific research shows that an inclusive school is the foundation for an inclusive civil society that is ready to accept diversity. With the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its additional protocol in 2011, Luxembourg has adopted the inclusive school model. However, the implementation of the concept of an inclusive school on three levels (local, regional, national) is still under debate. If the participation of students with special needs is to become a matter of course, significant barriers must be removed: This means changing the way we look at differences, ensuring accessibility, reducing uncertainty, and preparing all school stakeholders for the challenges of heterogeneity.
➤ The report, dedicated to inclusive education and to be published in 2023, will serve as a guide for reflection and action to be carried out under the National Action Plan for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2019-2024.
7.Grade repetition and its alternatives
Research shows that grade repetition can be detrimental to students’ academic success and self-esteem development. In fact, it appears that repeating a grade is one of the leading causes of dropping out of school. However, this practice is still debated and some even consider it beneficial. Parents and pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds value repetition more, and teachers consider it appropriate for them.
➤ The thematic report will present compelling alternatives to the practice of grade repetition.
8.Educational orientation and support for students
The results of national assessments and official statistics show that students from disadvantaged backgrounds, those with a migrant background, and/or those who do not speak Luxembourgish at home experience difficulties at school from an early age and soon find themselves in a situation of academic failure. This phenomenon has a major impact on their educational progress. Improving the chances of success for all students and combating academic failure or dropping out of school are major challenges for Luxembourg’s education system. In this context, the processes of educational guidance and individualised support for students are fundamental to the personal development and academic success of all students.
➤ The report will focus on measures to help, support, and guide students, as well as the orientation process, and will propose initiatives to ensure that students receive effective individualised support and stay in school.