Experimental schools aim to provide quality education free of charge and to experimentally apply alternative and innovative educational methods and programmes. This is also a fundamental objective of the EU. They are ‘pilot schools’ and, in order to ensure that they attract the best students, who are then given the opportunity to follow these pilot programmes, they have introduced entrance exams; any student without distinction and without restriction can sit these tests. However, there are also those who argue that they create first and second‐ class students and are an affront to human dignity.
The Greek Minister of Education recently stated that the entrance examinations at these schools were ‘Hitlerian’ and proposed that students should be selected by lot instead. Since experimental schools operate in other Member States too, such as the UK, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain, will the Commission say:
— Is it compatible with the EU’s general policy guidelines on education that experimental schools should select the best students by tests? Does this violate principles such as equality, non-discrimination and freedom of access to the benefit of education?
— How does it evaluate experimental schools' contribution to education?
Answer given by Mr Navracsics on behalf of the Commission
Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides that, in contributing to the development of quality education, the Union must fully respect the responsibility of the Member States for the content of teaching and the organisation of education systems. The Commission can support and complement Member State actions.
The questions put by the Honourable Member fall beyond the remit of the Commission and it therefore is not in a position to assess the selection of students through tests and to verify their conformity with the principles mentioned in the question.
Moreover, the Commission has no general policy guidelines against which to evaluate the contribution of experimental schools to education. It is important for any type and level of education that it focuses on quality learning outcomes, on inclusion and accessibility for all, and on equipping young people with a range of competences that will enable them to flourish in a globalised economy and in increasingly diverse societies.