Dear Friends,

Spring is in the air, but we were far from winter hibernation in February either. As usual, February and March are busy planning new projects and writing applications. We have a few very interesting planned projects in the pipeline (some of you were even contacted by partners as we always insist on involving our national members whenever possible), so keep your fingers crossed for them.

We are also busy preparing for the Paphos conference, the list of speakers has been refreshed and is nearly final. This is a gentle reminder to register by 10 March and for registration you need your travel arangements, too.

Please take a moment to answer the SEQUENCES survey on your experiences with kindergarten, créche, nursery or other early childhood establishments. It helps us to prepare for Paphos, too. It has become available in English, Italian, Romanian, Lithuanian, Hungarian and Serbian.

This year much fewer members asked for a reduced membership fee which seems to be a sign of a healthier financial situation of our members. You can expect to receive your membership fee invoice and the member's form in the coming days. We will use the member's forms to plan our work, so I'm inviting you to send them back as quickly as you can.

Eszter Salamon

Opportunity to influence EU policy

We will have a lot of discussion around a more socially just Europe in Paphos in April. We will focus on two main elements of the proposals public until the event, reconciliation and education, with special focus on early childhood. We are inviting everybody to contribute to an EPA policy paper on early childhood education as well as any amendments your members find necessary to our existing, related policy papers, Manifesto 2015 and our Balancing Work and Family Life paper. Please note that our current advocacy work is based on these and they apply a very different approach from EU institutions'. 

Invite us, share with us

As always, I am inviting you to share news or hot topics that you are dealing with in your own countries. Send us a short, one paragraph newsflash in English that we can publish on the EPA blog to share your projects, success, good practices or concerns with other members.
For 2017 we allocated a somewhat larger budget for representation. Some of you have invited members of the Board to your national events and they seems to become more and more popular. One or two members of the Board are happy to join you if you invite us, sharing costs, EPA covering travel and you covering accommodation and subsistence. This may help you in national advocacy or showing your national members the importance of your EPA membership.
In both the Social Platform and the Lifelong Learning Platform (EPA being a member of both) we are working on supporting the national cooperation of social and education NGOs that share at least their being Europeans, belonging to a European family like EPA. Inviting a Board member or two may offer opportunities for this, too.


Have a say in the review of the Key Compentences Framework 
The European Commission has launched a public consultation which will run until 19 May 2017 on the review and update of the 2006 Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning. This is the offical legal opportunity for your voice to be heard on European level. EPA has been active in the process and will submit its own contribution, but all readers of our blog, especially our national members are encouraged to do so, too.

Inclusion index includes EPA policy for the first time ever
Professor Paul Downes and his team has just published a scientific paper setting up an exhaustive set of structural indicators to measure the inclusiveness of systems in and around schools. We were consulted as experts during the development of the indicators, and we are proud to see that our comments were not only taken into account, but the paper refers to and openly embraces EPA advocacy messages, becoming the first official European Commission document referencing our Manifesto 2015.

Support FEAD efforts nationally or locally
The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) supports EU countries' actions to provide material assistance to the most deprived. EPA was invited to find ways to cooperate and our representative, Herminio Correa is working on finding ways to offer additional support by national parents' associations in the form of empowerment. Read the report and contact us if you want to join any support action.

Competition highlighting STEM for 10+ children
SciChallenge, an international STEM-contest, makes scientific careers more attractive to young people through social media. Participants can win a trip to Vienna and further prizes by submitting their project until 30th of April 2017. We are working on the possibility to include a parent representative in the jury of this great initiative and to also award a special parental prize.

News on the school leadership conference and potential new network
The Maltese Ministry of Education hosted a conference on school leadership and equity, co-organised by the former European Policy Network on School Leadership (EPNoSL) on 16/17 January 2017. EPA was offered the opportunity not only to participate, but also to offer input in two workshops on Supporting National Advocacy of Parents’ Associations and Giving Responsibility to Boost Participation. 

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