PIONEERED Project Concludes, Charting Path Towards Educational Equality with Pioneering Practices

Following a three-year research journey, the PIONEERED project is ending successfully, having paved the way to improve educational equality by identifying research-informed policy measures and pioneering practices. Led by the University of Luxembourg, PIONEERED brought together a diverse team of researchers from across Europe to delve into the complexities of educational (in-) equality across various contexts. This collaborative effort aimed to understand the factors shaping access to and participation in education, while acknowledging the multifaceted nature of inequalities and the need for tailored solutions.

The project's significance lies in its contribution to reversing the growing trend of educational inequalities within post-industrial societies, where education plays a pivotal role in determining life outcomes such as employment opportunities, political participation, well-being, and health.

Beyond the State-of-the-Art: Developing Pioneering Approaches to Mitigate Educational Disparities

PIONEERED's approach went beyond the traditional research framework. Partner institutions embarked on a multi-pronged strategy, mapping existing research, conducting in-depth policy analyses, and examining the prevalence of educational inequalities within the participating countries. This comprehensive approach, coupled with thorough practice research, provided a holistic picture of educational equality across the project's partner countries.

Professor Andreas Hadjar, PIONEERED coordinator, emphasises the project's unique methodology: "We ventured beyond established research methods to uncover pioneering policies and practices that hold the potential to effectively tackle educational inequalities. This allowed us to gain a nuanced understanding of impactful strategies to address educational disparities in diverse European contexts."

Exploring the Landscape of Pioneering Practices

In a first step, the project meticulously documented and analysed policies and practices and identified which are successful in combating educational inequalities within the participating countries (Belgium, Austria, Germany, Spain, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, and Norway). In a second step, the PIONEERED researchers formulated further policy recommendations. All of these pioneering policies and practices were carefully selected by the national research teams based on extensive and versatile evidence from policy reports, research publications and key stakeholders – policymakers, principals, teachers, parents, social workers, and special education teachers – involved in the policy or practice implementation. These practices represent innovative approaches fostering improvements in access, participation, and educational outcomes.

Notably, the project has highlighted the often-overlooked role of non-formal and informal education in tackling educational inequalities, advocating for their recognition alongside formal education systems in pursuit of a more equitable learning landscape.

Key Recommendations to Guide Future Efforts

The project has established a comprehensive database of educational policies across participating countries, serving as a valuable resource for future research and policy development efforts. Furthermore, PIONEERED has formulated four key strategic recommendations for policymakers and education practitioners:

  • Context Matters: Recognising the intricate nature of educational inequalities, policymakers and practitioners must consider specific circumstances when designing solutions aimed at achieving educational equality.
  • Support All students: Ensuring every student has the opportunity to complete their educational trajectory, with targeted financial and educational aid for disadvantaged groups, is crucial.
  • Make Decisions based on Evidence: New policies and practices should be grounded in robust evidence, and continuous evaluation is essential to track their effectiveness.
  • Consider Resources: Implementing new policies requires a realistic assessment of needed resources, including teacher availability, funding, and professional development.

Professor Hadjar asserts: "PIONEERED has made significant strides in comprehending and addressing educational inequalities. Our findings and recommendations offer valuable guidance for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers as we strive to create a more equitable education system for all."

What is the Future of Education?

For our final outreach efforts, we first have delved into the project partners' highlights of working together over the past few years. Second, we sparked a conversation about the future of educational equality and school systems in Europe. To join the conversation and read up on what the PIONEERED partners have said, please visit our project account on X (@PIONEERED_EU) or go to our "Media" section on the project website.


The PIONEERED project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004392.