One of the most influential EU documents in education, Key Competences for Lifelong Learning, has been significantly revised to include ‘Personal, Social and Learning to Learn Competence’. The revision is on foot of specific recommendations made in two reports published by the European Commission* co-authored by DCU Associate Professor of Education (Psychology), Dr Paul Downes.
Previously termed the ‘Learning to Learn’ Competence, the ‘Personal, Social and Learning to Learn’ Competence has incorporated the importance of social and emotional education. The new competence has recently been adopted by the EU Council of Ministers.
In their cited reports, Dr. Downes and his co-authors had highlighted the key role of social and emotional education in developing higher academic achievement, positive academic attitudes, increased prosocial behaviour, and in leading to a decrease in antisocial behaviour, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide.
Commenting on the development, Dr. Downes said “This revision of the highly-influential EU Key Competences framework to prioritise social and emotional education through explicit commitment to personal and social competences is to be greatly welcomed. To progress from being an EU Commission proposal to formal adoption by the EU Council of Ministers is hugely significant.”
Regarding its relevance for Ireland, Dr. Downes added: “This increased European Union emphasis on personal and social education invites giving further emphasis and time to such issues on the primary school curriculum. It also implies a stronger emphasis on teachers’ own personal and social education competences in their communication and relational styles in the classroom – for example, at post-primary level.”
*1. -Downes, P. & Cefai, C. (2016). How to tackle bullying and prevent school violence in Europe: Evidence and practices for strategies for inclusive and safe schools. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union/EU bookshop; and
2. -Cefai, C., Bartolo P. A., Cavioni. V., Downes, P. (2018). Strengthening Social and Emotional Education as a core curricular area across the EU: A review of the international evidence. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
Adopted EU Council Recommendation: