Schooling for Tomorrow in Brief


Schooling for Tomorrow is one of the central projects within OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI). The Centre has established an international reputation for pioneering educational research, opening up new fields for exploration, and combining rigorous analysis with conceptual innovation.

Its origins and challenge

“Building new futures for education” is one of six strategic objectives which have been set for the OECD’s educational work by senior policy-makers in its member countries to fulfill its mission of “assisting members and partners in achieving high quality lifelong learning for all”. CERI began its work on futures in the late 1990s. Its focus has mainly been on schools and schooling, but the approach to futures work has since stimulated new departures so as now to include higher education in the University Futures Project.

The origins of work on schooling futures began at an OECD meeting on lifelong learning of countries’ Ministers of Education in 1996. The ministers pinpointed the crucial role of schools in laying the foundations for lifelong learning and asked the OECD to identify and assess different visions for schooling. The project was officially launched at an international conference in Hiroshima in November 1997.

At the core of this work is the persistent paradox that although education is about long-term investment in people and society, its decision-making tends predominantly still to be short term. Longer-term perspectives in policy and practice are the exception rather than the rule. We lack even the tools and terminology to develop such perspectives. Schooling for Tomorrow thus set out to develop frameworks and tools to be useful for people in many different situations and countries for thinking about alternative futures for education. Its objectives were to contribute to:

  • Creating dialogue and reflection in contribution to participatory governance

  • Building vision, leadership and innovation capacity

  • Enhancing strategic policy formulation and implementation


How it has unfolded

Schooling for Tomorrow developed into an internationally recognised project in three stages:


Phase One laid the groundwork, with analyses of trends and methodologies. The key outcome was a set of six trend-based scenarios for schooling systems.

Phase Two used the six scenarios in cooperation with volunteer countries and school systems to explore how Futures Thinking could inform concrete challenges for educational leadership and policy-making. To further inform the work, research also continued on specific themes as well as theoretical matters.

Phase Three, which began in mid-2005, has expanded to 11 countries with 13 initiatives applying Futures Thinking to educational reform and innovation. This phase emphasises systematic documentation of the experiences, and the development and fine-tuning of practical tools for use in these and other countries.


What it has to offer

Schooling for Tomorrow offers a variety of materials to enrich both new and ongoing initiatives:


Ready-to-use scenarios 
The SfT scenarios depict six distinct alternative futures for schooling. Developed through careful analysis of trends, the scenarios have been instrumental in kick-starting Futures Thinking processes in many educational contexts.  - Go

Research and analysis 
The project has produced eight publications to deepen both the understanding of Futures Thinking in education and the forces shaping the future of education. Subjects include demand versus supply; moves toward 'personalising' education; networking and school management; and the role of ICTs. Further research on new models of learning and innovation is now in progress.  - Go

Schooling for Tomorrow shows how Futures Thinking has been applied to education in a variety of country situations, and the lessons learnt. - Go

To facilitate Futures Thinking initiatives, the project offers a compact Starter Pack with the core elements, experiences, and lessons of the Schooling for Tomorrow Project in a practical sheet-by-sheet format. To help initiatives construct informed scenarios, the project also has a streamlined tool for analysing the trends that seem most likely to influence the development of education systems in OECD countries. - Go


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