Futuroscope Poitiers, France, 12-14 February 2003
All OECD countries now face a demanding new situation for schools and schooling. They are seeking to raise standards for all students, quantitatively and qualitatively. All are thus faced with searching questions about the nature of schools and their suitability to meet these demands. The broad aim of lifelong learning for all has come to be widely shared among countries at least as a desirable future; if it is to be realised it implies major shifts of thinking and practice with schooling playing a pivotal part, (ref. the paper on schooling and lifelong learning). There is the need to inject longer-term thinking into decision-making that too often is highly constrained by short-term considerations. Rapidly evolving geo-political forces are at work, with globalisation in many spheres and yet also the need for greater local action and participation. New forms of governance are needed, based more on professionalism and dialogue and less on bureaucracy and control, in the face of complexity, rapid change and uncertainty. Indeed, these are concerns facing the public sector in general.