1 March 2023 | Leuven (Belgium)


Innovative ideas and methods hold paramount importance in the European education sector, especially considering the disruption of traditional educational models as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Within this context, in 2022 the European Federation of Education Employers launched the project ‘Innovation4Education: Strengthening European Employers’ Capacities in Promoting Innovation within Educational Institutions in the Post-COVID-19 Era’. Bringing to a close two years of meetings, research and events, a final conference took place on the 1st of March in Leuven (Belgium) to provide a unique opportunity for stakeholders throughout the education sector to explore how to best foster innovation within educational institutions.

The primary objective of the Final Conference was to examine emerging practices, gather data on the perspectives of social partners in the field of education, and present the research findings acquired over the last two years in order to inform future policies in this area. The conference began with a welcome address by our President Barbara Novinec and a keynote speech by Stefaan Hermans (Director of Policy, Strategy, and Evaluation at DG EAC), who underscored the fundamental role played by innovation in the education sector. To this end, he highlighted in particular four related areas of activity of the European Commission – including the role of teachers, addressing school failure, the Digital Education Action Plan, and the use of evidence to guide educational policies. The subsequent discussion  addressed important issues such as students’ involvement in decision-making, coordination within the European Commission, and the challenges associated with the digital transition in education.

Afterwards, we had the privilege of welcoming our project researcher Dr Peter Kelly (University of Plymouth), who shared the highlights of his report on innovation in education in the post-COVID era. Dr Kelly emphasised the urgency of addressing interconnected crises while simultaneously redirecting education towards achieving the common good, strengthening the resilience and adaptability of educational institutions, and promoting innovative collaboration.

A panel discussion led by Isabelle Janssens, Director at GO!, emphasised the need for critical reflection on current educational practices. The panelists addressed various essential aspects of innovation in the European education sector. Jeroen Backs (Head of Strategy and Knowledge – Department of Education and Training of Flanders), for instance, noted the importance of educational innovation as a means of achieving tangible improvements. Giuseppina Tucci (Secretary-General, OBESSU), underscored the need to place students at the heart of innovative processes and questioned the relevance of testing, advocating for a deeper reflection on learning motivations. Petra Kogelnig (Policy Officer, EPA) stressed the importance of adopting a holistic approach to education, focusing on student well-being and ensuring meaningful parental involvement. She also addressed the issue of the attractiveness of the teaching profession, drawing connections to the subject of the Final Conference. Finally, Harry te Riele (Project Leader, ESHA) stressed the importance of adopting collaborative and innovative educational practices that are mostly aimed at collective problem-solving.


In the following section, Peter Kelly and our Secretary General Daniel Wiśniewski presented the project’s policy recommendations, emphasising their flexible nature and the need for them to be adapted to different contexts and circumstances. A subsequent discussion involving the audience focused on the balanced use of technology, learner involvement, and the challenges of implementing these recommendations while exploring strategies to promote educational innovation and collaboration within schools.

An ‘Innovation Exhibition’ including posters prepared by EFEE members throughout Europe led to a related discussion with representatives of the organisations who contributed to the showcase. In presenting their work, Gemma Cooper (Kinsale Community), Manuela Rigler (Društvo Ravnateljev), Anna Sobala-Zbroszczyk (2nd SLO Jasienica College), Danielle de Boer (INNOFIUS), Scilla van Cuijlenborg (MBO Read) and Rini Romme (Yuverta) drew attention to innovative practices in education, emphasising the importance of combining students’ technical and interpersonal skills. The poster highlights sparked thoughtful reflection among participants on current educational practices and the challenges ahead.

A lively discussion on collegial professionalism and community collaboration, moderated by Daniel Wiśniewski, examined the implications of these principles in the context of educational innovation. Participants insisted on the importance of teacher professional development and of creating a culture of collaboration and mutual learning in order to achieve inclusive and collaborative environments in schools.

Concluding remarks noted that the event underscored the need to combine students’ technical and interpersonal skills and to foster an inclusive and collaborative environment in schools, while also drawing attention to how participants highlighted the importance of supporting teacher professional development and promoting a culture of collaboration to foster educational innovation in Europe.


Please take a look below at some key documents from the Final Conference:

Project Findings 

Final Report