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Overcoming equity-related challenges for the education and training systems of Europe.

Gorard, Stephen (2020) 'Overcoming equity-related challenges for the education and training systems of Europe.', Education sciences., 10 (11). p. 305.


This paper is a discussion of the challenges to equity faced by the education and training systems of the 28 EU countries (at time of writing), based on secondary sources and official reports by individual countries. The data are descriptive and simply summarised for this paper. The systems of all countries are fairly similar, modelled on those set up to deal with challenges of early industrialisation, and all now face several similar problems and opportunities. There is a clear correlation between family background, average attainment, and subsequent participation in education and training. All 28 countries show some signs of progress over time, both in terms of the absolute level of attainment, and in terms of reduced gaps between social and economic groups. These trends are historical, and thus hard to link to specific policies. However, looking at the common characteristics of countries with similar levels of equity can produce a tentative guide to its determinants. Some of the main suggestions are: More countries to set up monitoring systems for school intakes and outcomes; more robust evaluations of policy interventions; fair funding and opportunities for all students; extra funding for students facing challenges; no selection by ability or anything else; all taught in mainstream settings; no tracking or grade retention; more recognition of prior experience and learning; respectful interaction with all students; and use of context when allocating places in higher education, or simply more open access.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2020 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Date accepted:25 October 2020
Date deposited:28 October 2020
Date of first online publication:28 October 2020
Date first made open access:28 October 2020

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