Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Seventh Report






Commission Report to the Council on using the internet to develop twinning between European secondary schools.

Legal base:


Document originated:

4 June 2002

Deposited in Parliament:

19 June 2002


Education and Skills

Basis of consideration:

EM of 28 June 2002

Previous Committee Report:


To be discussed in Council:

12 November 2002

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:




    1. The proposal for a project of this kind was an initiative of the Prime Minister and his Spanish counterpart. It was supported at the Barcelona Council in March, and the Commission was asked to undertake a feasibility study and report on it to the Seville Council.
    2. The document

    3. The report sets out an approach to enable all EU secondary schools wishing to do so to establish or improve Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) twinning links by the end of 2006. It envisages roles for both the Member States and the EU, although EU funding will be limited and drawn from existing Community programmes for education and training. The Commission is exploring the scope for a future programme on e-learning, and resources for the twinning initiative will be considered in relation to that development.
    4. The Commission expects the proposal to be implemented largely by Member States, although a support framework at Community level is also proposed. At Member State level, the following key areas for action are set out:

    • establishing the necessary infrastructure and levels of equipment;

    • ensuring appropriate training and advice for teachers and teacher trainers;

    • developing appropriate back-up services (including assistance with finding twinning partners and provision of on-line advice); and

    • relating the project to the curriculum (considering, for example, its use in language learning, and in the exploration of broad topics like environmental education and European citizenship).

The Government's view

    1. The UK welcomes the report which, in its view, sets out the criteria for effective school twinning clearly, and maps existing activity. It will need to consider the practical implications in more detail, but does not envisage any particular problems. Since virtually all UK secondary schools have access to the Internet, the infrastructure costs should be low, but the Government will need to examine the question of additional costs. The benefits of such arrangements are already clear, especially for schools in remote rural or deprived areas where conventional twinning arrangements may be problematic.
    2. Conclusion

    3. We note that the UK has been instrumental in proposing this useful initiative, and hope that the take-up will be significant. We clear the document.


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