DigiLitEY Think Tank meeting in London – report

I was invited to join the Think Tank meeting of the DigiLitEY project in London at the end of March 2017 as an expert. This research project is focused on technology use by children under 8 years of age. The London event mostly focused on the working group that focuses on parents and home. While we were presented interesting research evidence mostly gathered through literature review, a discussion has also been started on how it would be possible to engage as many parents in the discourse as possible.


The Future of Europe is a Learning Europe

The Lifelong Learning Platform, EPA is an active member of, has just published a statement reflecting on the White Paper on the Future of Europe and other recent political developments, underlining the role of education in this future among other things, an element that seems to be somewhat neglected by policy makers. Read the statement here:

Last week, UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s letter to President Tusk set a milestone in EU history. Only days later, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, during which civil society organisations, including the LLLP, called on leaders of Europe to show “vision and courage to set Europe on the path to a sustainable future which realises the rights of all people and respects planetary boundaries” through an open letter The Europe we want: Just, Sustainable, Democratic and Inclusive.
On 1 March 2017, the European Commission published its White Paper on the future of Europe. While it does underline the need for skills and lifelong learning, there is little attention when it comes to the next steps and concrete commitments in this regard. The Lifelong Learning Platform, European Civil Society for Education, together with its members, is happy that the European Commission is going to look more thoroughly at the social dimension of Europe, but we are also concerned of the fact that it lacks an analysis of what really brings Europeans together and what drives the European identity among its citizens. As the Brexit begins, we are convinced that education and lifelong learning are precisely what will protect our unity.
Three key strands of actions are crucial in our view to bring Europeans together: Europeans want to
Meet & exchange: Mobility in order to learn and to exchange ideas and experiences is key to create understanding and ownership of the European Union. Erasmus+ is the flagship programme of the European Union and one of the most successful European programmes that has created intercultural learning, lasting European friendships and a strong European identity for all those participating. LLLP believes that a there is a need to further enlarge the accessibility to Erasmus+ to increase participation. We propose to consider how (young) people from disadvantaged backgrounds could also participate in Erasmus+ and especially also how to include adults or older people, i.e. groups that are currently least convinced about the European project.
Participate & shape: ‘Brussels’ is very far away from most Europeans. Additionally, national politicians and media tend to blame ‘Brussels’ for everything unpopular while claiming all things positive for themselves even if the origin is ‘Brussels’. LLLP therefore proposes to bring the EU closer to the European citizen and to provide the possibility to participate. It is extremely short-sighted that the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme has so few resources, so we suggest a considerable increase in funds for this programme as well as more opportunities for citizens to get involved.
Share & innovate: In Lifelong Learning, but also youth, culture, sports and research (as well as other areas) cooperation between people, institutions, SMEs etc. has led to an enormous transfer of innovation across Europe. Whether it is in small-scale strategic partnerships in Erasmus+, ESF and Horizon 2020 or in other exchange and cooperation programmes, this is where Europe can make enormous progress. The European Union has the real possibility to foster cooperation and innovation across Europe. It also has the opportunity to nurture areas where there is little commercial interest and therefore little outside financing available. LLLP therefore proposes a renewed effort to support exchange and innovation across Europe.
Finally, LLLP believes that learning is the future of Europe – learning for innovation, learning for our future jobs, but also learning from and with each other, learning for our personal development and learning to foster our values of solidarity, peace and democracy.
Find the original statement on lllplatform.eu


Expert concerns about the General Data Protection Regulation

5 reasons why children should not require compulsory parental consent for internet service access 
Janice Richardson, an international expert on internet safety has approched EPA asking for support of the statement below. She was one of the keynote speakers at the Lisbon EPA conference on the challenges of the digital age. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was approved by the EU last year and will be compulsory for all EU countries. There is regulation in the GDPR making it compulory to acquire parental consent for the use of any online service for children, a step that restricts parents' rights, there are pedagogical concerns about it and it is likely to widen the digital divide. Thus the Board of EPA decided to fully support the statement.


The Europe we want: Just, Sustainable, Democratic and Inclusive

Common appeal to European leaders by European Civil Society Organisations and Trade Unions

21 March 2017

As we mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, we have a momentous opportunity to take stock of how far Europe has come – and how far we still have to go in order to offer a sustainable and prosperous future to everyone in Europe. It is an opportunity that we call on you, the leaders of Europe, to seize with both hands. We call on you to show leadership, vision and courage to set Europe on the path to a sustainable future which realises the rights of all people and respects planetary boundaries.


Cementing civil society’s role in protecting the European Project

The Social Platform publishes regular editorials by its leaders as part of the Social Compass sent to a high number of subsribers every week. Following major decisions of the European Parliament and discussions within the platform as well as among civil society actors like the Lifelong Learning Platform, Concord, Civil Society Europe and many others, EPA's President and Vice President of the Social Platform was asked to write an editorial that we share here with you. It is on a much broader topic than our usual ones, but the forthcoming changes are necessarily having a huge impact on the lives of our children as well as on us, parents, so we think it is interesting for you. When thinking about the role of civil society in affecting decisions it is not only about adjusting the volume (so that citizens' voices are heard) but also about tuning to the right channel.


Have your say on Erasmus+

The European Commission has launched an open public consultation in the context of the mid-term evaluation of Erasmus+ including the long-term impact of the predecessor programmes. This is an opportunity to offer your experiences with Erasmus+ programmes as a parent of Erasmus-students and as participants of Erasmus+ programmes.


New EU Commission plans on returns and detention will create more harm and suffering

Over 90 civil society organisations address EU Commission in a joint statement published on 3 March 2017. Social Platform, EPA is a member of, is one if the signees and the statement is fully in line with EPA's advocacy efforts. Bowing down to political pressure to be “tough” on irregular migration, the European Commission has turned its back on the full implementation of human rights safeguards in its Returns’ Directive and is actively pushing member states to lower the bar.


Stop Cyberbullying - campaign in Catalonia to educate parents

Newsflash by Josep-Manuel Prats, EPA Vice President

While the EU is enforcing a directive trying to legally restrict the internet use of our children, parents’ associations in Catalonia has initiated a campaign totally in line with EPA’s policy paper, adopted by consensus of the members.

All the federations of parents' associations in Catalonia have agreed to start an awareness raising campaign the target groups of which are especially fathers and mothers. We have the explicit support of the Government of Catalonia.


Forum on Leadership Policy on Equity and Learning: Take it to the Students

The Maltese Ministry of Education hosted a conference on school leadership and equity, co-organised by the former European Policy Network on School Leadership (EPNoSL) on 16/17 January 2017. As an active member of the EPNoSL, EPA was offered the opportunity not only to participate, but also to offer input in two workshops on Supporting National Advocacy of Parents’ Associations and Giving Responsibility to Boost Participation. EPA was represented in the event by Brigitte Haider, our Project Manager. You can read her detailed report below.

The conference also offered an opportunity to have a discussion among former network members in order to successfully submit an application for a next financing round for our work on school leadership policy. Since the event the submission was done and now we all keep our fingers crossed for it. EPA is offered a major role in the planned network, together with our regular collaborator, the European School Heads Association, ESHA. The network would be again led by FORTH and we have enjoyed working with them.


Competition hihglighting STEM for 10+ children

SciChallenge, an international STEM-contest, makes scientific careers more attractive to young people through social media. Since January 2017, submissions for the SciChallenge competition are open to youngsters between 10-20 years. Participants can win a trip to Vienna and further prizes by
submitting their project until 30th of April 2017. It is organised and promoted by one of EPA's partners, the European Students' Union (ESU), under the framework of a Horizon2020 project. We are working on the possibility to include a parent representative in the jury and to also award a special parental prize.


Your opportunity to influence the Key Competences framework in the EU

The European Commission has launched a public consultation which will run until 19 May 2017. This is part of a process within the Skills Agenda, aiming at boosting human capital in Europe and updating EU - and subsequently hopefully also national - policies to make one more attempt to modernise education in Europe so that it supports what is necessary for learners' success. The review and update of the 2006 Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning is part of this process and the public consultation is the opportunity for your voice to be heard on European level. EPA has been active in the process and will submit its own contribution, but all readers of our blog, especially our national members are encouraged to do so, too.


Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD)

The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) supports EU countries' actions to provide material assistance to the most deprived. EPA was invited to find ways to cooperate and our representative, Herminio Correa is working on finding ways to offer additional support by national parents associations in the form of empowerment to complement material contributions offered by FEAD. Read this short report and feel free to contact us if you want to join support action.


New scientific tool to analyse the inclusiveness of education systems embraces EPA advocacy messages

Professor Paul Downes and his team has just published a scientific paper setting up an exhaustive set of structural indicators to measure the inclusiveness of systems in and around schools on different vertical levels and local. Inclusion is key to making Europe more successful in educating lifelong learners who are equipped for future challenges and can also cope with the present. Professor Downes, one of the speakers of our conference in Dubrovnik in April 2016, shares our thoughts about the importance of fully engaging both parents and students of all ages as the only means to achieve this successfully. We were consulted as experts during the development of the indicators, and we are proud to see that our comments were not only taken into account, but the paper refers to and openly embraces EPA advocacy messages, becoming the first official European Commission document referencing our Manifesto 2015. The publication offers assessment tools for use on national policy and also on institutional (school) level. It is free to be downloaded from here.


3rd Global School Play Day - 1 February

Global School Play Day is taking place for the third time on 1 February 2017 raising awareess of the importance of unstructured play in life, especially in childrens'. In the introduction to the event its website calls the attention of educators to Peter Gray's TEDx lecture, that clearly argues the case that today's kids do not grow up playing and this has negatively impacted them in many ways. It's time we return the gift of play to this generation. The right to play and playful learning have been high up on parents' agenda in Europe and becoming a hot topic for parents all over the world. This is why we are happy to share this initiative and suggest you try to make your childrens' school to join. And why not also put more emphasis on play at home on the day?


Conference on the EU Pillar of Social Rights

The European Commission organised an high level conference following the adoption of a report on the European Pillar of Social Rights in Brussels on 23 January 2017. The event was designed to highlight the commitment of Jean-Claude Juncker to establishing the Social Pillar of the EU, or more precisely of the Euro Zone for the time being. Social Platform members, including EPA were invited, but were offered little space, for example there were only representatives of other social partners, employers and trade unions in the closing panel. However, the commitment was made absolutely clear by the fact that 9 EU Commissioners, Members of the European Parliament, leaders of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the Committee of Regions (CoR), UNESCO, OECD, the European Central Bank and several national ministers attended and contributed to the event that concluded with the first public speech by the new President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani and President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.


Survey on good practices and quality of Childcare Centres

A survey for parents and practitioners working at child care centres/nurseries is being held as part of a Erasmus+ project entitled "SEQUENCES – Self and external Evaluation of QUality in EUrope to Nourish Childhood Education Services" funded by the European Commission that EPA is a partner in. This project aims to respond to the need to improve the quality of ECEC services through the creation of evaluation tools. The survey ends on 15th March 2017. Please respond according to your knowledge and your own personal experience.Click the link to the different language versions to start the survey: 

English https://goo.gl/forms/F5A2a3CCcqatEWnf2
Italian: https://goo.gl/forms/WtCbEqVJy8amgcrj1
Romanian: https://goo.gl/forms/PZqmhCskzwEo5XtH2
Lithuanian: https://goo.gl/forms/c1hUZzcprR6KywGD3
Hungarian: https://goo.gl/forms/IJLj6Rye7qKlLWhF2
Serbian: https://goo.gl/forms/Qx5hT5ne0onTNRHX2

Slovenian:  https://goo.gl/forms/zeMVPUy0hgFyLqDp1

If you don't know the answer, give a 1 as you should know as a parent, if you cannot quote any good practices, just put an X there.