Jane Hutt, Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills in the Welsh Assembly Government, represented the UK at the Education and Youth Councils, on behalf of DCSF and BIS.
Ministers adopted conclusions on the professional development of teachers and school leaders; the role of education in a fully-functioning knowledge triangle; and the education of children with a migrant background. All three sets of conclusions are consistent with UK domestic policy, and we were able to support them.
The latter conclusions also formed the theme of a policy debate between delegations. While clear that there was a wide variation in the levels of migration in each member state, all were in close agreement on the approach set out in the conclusions.
There was a second policy debate on quality assurance in higher education. This was based on a Commission discussion paper which argued for early improvements in higher education quality assurance and further development of transparency tools. The UK supported the approach set out in the Leuven Communiqué of April 2009, stressing the need to embed current improvements before going further and that the issue should be reviewed at the Bologna HE summit in 2012. This was supported by the majority of member states, who wanted a measured approach, working through the Bologna process.
Under any other business, the Commission presented the draft joint interim report on the education and training 2010 work programme, and the Spanish presidency briefly noted their upcoming presidency schedule.
The Council included a lunch debate on the role of education in the post-2010 Lisbon strategy. This discussion was informed by presidency questions, but also the recently released Barroso EU2020 paper.
Youth Council adopted a Council resolution on a renewed framework for European co-operation in the youth field (2010-2018). A policy debate followed on the short-term implementation and future aspirations for the framework. All member states supported the strategy, with the majority citing youth unemployment and disadvantaged youth as key issues. The UK pressed for member states commitment to the open method of co-ordination process at all levels, noting the need to avoid burdensome reporting structures.