The Commission’s expert group on well-being in schools has convened for the first time to address the challenges related to the well-being of young people and teachers. The group includes researchers, academics, teachers, school directors, teacher trainers, school psychologists, and pediatricians who will produce policy recommendations and guidelines to promote well-being over the next 15 months.
The expert group will work closely with the Commission to create supportive learning environments and improve the well-being of students. According to the results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2018, around 20% of European students suffer from mental health problems during their school years, with half of these problems developing before the age of 14. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of addressing these issues, with many students facing severe consequences for their motivation, and emotional, social, and physical well-being.
According to Dr. Egle Celiesiene, a member of the Expert Group on supportive learning environments, EU policy’s emphasis on school success for all is a crucial and unequivocal message. Furthermore, she adds that well-being is the cornerstone of any school, and it is imperative that the entire ecosystem collaborates to promote it.
The Commission Communication on achieving a European Education Area by 2025 identifies two closely interconnected key initiatives for school education, aimed at promoting the inclusive dimension: ‘Pathways to School Success’ and an Expert Group to develop proposals on strategies for creating supportive learning environments for groups at risk of underachievement and for supporting well-being at school. The two initiatives are also part of the ‘concrete issues and actions’ annexed to the Council Resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training towards the European Education Area and beyond (2021-2030).
The risk of children experiencing lower well-being at school and higher risk of underachievement can be related to various personal and contextual factors, including gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, migrant or refugees background, disabilities or special educational needs. Moreover, in Europe, 24% of teachers report that their job has a negative impact on their mental health, and 22% of them consider the same in relation to their physical health.
In her latest State of the Union address, President von der Leyen called for a new global approach to mental health, responding to the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which called for initiatives to improve the understanding of mental health problems and effective actions to address them.
Expert Group on supportive learning environments for groups at risk of underachievement and for supporting well-being at school key topics include promoting mental health and well-being, preventing violence and (cyber) bullying in schools, and creating safe and inclusive learning environments. The group will create synergies with other initiatives within the European Education Area and beyond, particularly Pathways to School Success. With the adoption of the Council Recommendation “Pathways to School Success” in November 2022, Member States committed to giving special attention to well-being in schools, and this expert group aims to support them in this commitment.
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