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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Stephen Gorard

Gorard, S (2015). Equity-related challenges in education and training, existing measures, assessment, proposals for future measures, Report to the EU Commission.
  • Publication type: Report

Author(s) from Durham


This is a report on the main challenges to equity in provision and outcomes, as faced by the education and training (ET) systems of Europe, based on a synthesis of individual reports on each of the 28 countries supplemented by other available evidence. The report considers a range of national policies that affect equity, both those already in place and those proposed or newly implemented by each country. Looking at the common characteristics of countries with similar levels of equity in ET can produce a tentative guide to the determinants of equity. For example, the high equity countries of Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK all have high performance, attainment and participation in most areas of ET, with relatively low links between an individual’s background and their own trajectory in education. All spend a high proportion of GDP on education and training, with teacher salaries roughly equivalent to that of the average of all graduate occupations. None operates a policy of sorting young people into separate tracks, or using grade repetition to address individual low attainment. While variable, the compulsory age for starting formal schooling has been quite late, suggesting that lifelong equality and quality in ET does not have to be mandated to start young. Quality and equality are not in tension and generally go hand in hand. These countries report high rates of tertiary qualifications among adults, and high rates of entry to higher education of new students, and a high proportion of adults with good IT skills and reporting high levels of one of the following - volunteering, trust in others, or having a say in how they are governed. The implications for low equity countries are considered.