La gestion des systèmes éducatifs complexes


The CERI/OECD project "Governing Complex Education Systems (GCES)" project explores which governance mechanisms and knowledge options facilitate effective steering of complex education systems.


  ‌GCES project image

Complexity in education systems is on the rise due to a number of intersecting trends. Parents in OECD countries have become more diverse, individualistic and highly educated. As evidence about school and student achievement has become more readily available, stakeholders have also become more demanding, pushing schools to cater for the individual needs of their children.

Partly in response to this, governments in almost all OECD countries have increased school autonomy and stimulated demand sensitivity and sometimes competition. The combination of these new governance regimes with increasingly individualised, informed and demanding populations suggests that complexity and the importance of diverse local contexts can only be expected to increase.

At the same time, ministries of education remain responsible for ensuring high quality, efficient, equitable and innovative education. This responsibility is reinforced by the increasing importance that is attached to education for building a strong knowledge economy and also by international comparisons such as PISA that increase the visibility of national performance.

One of the crucial questions for OECD countries is, therefore, how to achieve national objectives for education systems under the condition of increasing complexity. The Governing Complex Education Systems project focuses on this issue by targeting two key elements: governance mechanisms and knowledge options.



Working paper: Reforming Education Governance through Local Capacity-Building: A Case Study of the "Learning Locally" Programme in Germany - by Marius R. Busemeyer and Janis Vossiek

Working paper: Steering from the Centre: New modes of Governance in Multi-level Education Systems - by Harald Wilkoszewski and Eli Sundby

Working paper: Trust: What It is and Why it matters for Education and Governance - by Lucie Cerna

Working paper: Implementation of a New School Supervision System in Poland - by Grzegorz Mazurkiewicz, Bartlomiej Walczak and Marcin Jewdokimow 

OECD Project on Governing Complex Education Systems, in ITB Info Service 12/2013, p. 23-26 (German information service on international collaboration and projects)

− by Tracey Burns and Harald Wilkoszewski



Reforming Education Governance through Local Capacity-Building: A Case Study of the "Learning Locally" Programme in Germany

- by Marius R. Busemeyer and Janis Vossiek

Implementation of a New School Supervision System in Poland

- by Grzegorz Mazurkiewicz, Bartlomiej Walczak and Marcin Jewdokimow 

Shifting Responsibilities: 20 years of Education Devolution in Sweden

- by Patrick Blanchenay, Tracey Burns and Florian Koester

Balancing Trust and Accountability? The Assessment for Learning Programme in Norway

– by Hopfenbeck, T., A. Tolo, T. Florez and Y. El Masri

Coping With Very Weak Primary Schools: Towards Smart Interventions in Dutch Education Policy

– by Van Twist, M., M. van der Steen, M. Kleiboer, J. Scherpenisse and H. Theisens


Fifth thematic Conference on the use of Data, 12-13 February, 2015, Tallinn, Estonia 

GCES Advisory Group Meeting, 15 September 2014, Paris

Fourth thematic conference: "Understanding Complexity: The Future of Education Governance", 10 February, 2014, Oslo, Norway

GCES Advisory Group Meeting, 16 September 2013, Paris

Third thematic conference: "Effective Multilevel Governance in Education", 17-18 June 2013, Paris, France  

GCES Advisory Group Meeting, 10 September 2012, Paris

Second thematic conference: "Effective Governance on the Local Level", 15-17 April 2012, Warsaw, Poland

First thematic conference: "Effective Governance from the Centre", 21-22 November 2011, The Hague, Netherlands

Expert Meeting, 23-24 June 2011, Paris

Launch Conference: 28-29 March 2011, Oslo, Norway 


Governing Complex Education Systems Brochure

Project Plan: Governing Complex Education Systems  

Case Study Framework


The Simple, the Complicated, and the Complex: Educational Reform through the Lens of Complexity Theory

– by Sean Snyder

"Exploring the Complex Interaction Between Governance and Knowledge in Education"

- by Mihály Fazekas and Tracey Burns

"Looking Beyond the Numbers: Stakeholders and Multiple School Accountability"

- by Edith Hooge, Tracey Burns and Harald Wilkoszewski





Trust is the glue that holds societies together. It is essential for most social and economic relations.  A recently released EDU Working Paper analyses the centrality of trust for policymaking and current governance issues. Trust enables stakeholders to take risks, facilitates interactions and cooperation, and reduces the need for control and monitoring.

Trust blog


‌Balancing Trust and Accountability: What is the best way to maintain and build trust while improving accountability? A Norwegian case study/Working Paper explores the implementation strategies used to enhance formative assessment in its schools.

Image for Education today blog

What a tangled web we weave: strategies for school improvement. A new case study from The Netherlands shows that a timely, risk-based assessment of schools can help to significantly lower the number of weak schools.



The more the merrier.  Who is responsible for successes and failures of schools?  A new Education Working Paper says involving parents and students can help improve education systems by including them in accountability and school achievement processes.


Chapter 1: The Evidence Agenda, from Evidence in Education: Linking Research and Policy (2007)

– by Tracey Burns and Tom Schuller

Markets in Education: An Analytical Review of Empirical Research on Market Mechanisms in Education (2011)

– by Sietske Waslander, Cissy Pater and Maartje van der Weide


Markets in Education: Evidence-based Policy Research in Education

Evidence-based Policy Research in Education


Tracey Burns

Lucie Cerna

Florian Koester

Leonora Lynch-Stein




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