Politically speaking, two major and interconnected issues emerge when considering small and rural schools in Europe: the efficiency problem, and the inequality of the provision of education.

In November 2019, the Steering Committee of European Schoolnet created the Small and Rural Schools Interest Group to explore issues of mutual concern related to small schools at a European level, as quite a lot of other countries are concerned with similar problems. The objectives of this Interest Group are to:

  • 1. Collect and share different research findings across European countries.
  • 2. Work at the European level on the collection and sharing practices on the use of ICT, to overcome isolation.
  • 3. Collect and share experiences on learning practices in multi-age classes.
  • 4. Collect and share experiences on models of school organisation and links with local communities.
  • 5. Consider the opportunity to offer an open community of practices for all practitioners working in small and rural schools, and the chance to create a European network of small rural schools.
  • 6. Offer a capacity-building programme for small and rural schools in Europe.

The Small and Rural Schools Interest Group is composed by 13 countries (Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Poland, Serbia, Sweden, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey). It is supported by European Schoolnet and INDIRE — the National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research, which is the Italian Ministry of Education's oldest research organisation. In 2023, the Small and Rural Interest Group presented its first publication titled "Rural Schools Under Focus".

This publication features 11 monographies, covering 11 countries (Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Poland, Serbia, Sweden, Spain) in 11 languages, the executive summary and a comparative analysis of the findings of these monographies.

You can find the report, the executive summary and the monagraphies.



The Interest Group was created to better understand and discuss the benefits and challenges of digitally processed data on student learning. The topic has become particularly important for education since the emergency move online of teaching and learning during the pandemic. In 2023, the members of the Interest Group have addressed in particular the question of Learning Analytics, in a discussion building on a presentation by Barbara Wasson, University of Bergen about Four Dilemmas from the Perspective of Norway. The dilemmas discussed were the following: the need for information versus the need for data protection; learning as an Individualised process versus social process; centralisation versus autonomy; and competence needs versus competence reality.

A case study about educational data in Croatia has been the other point discussed by the Group. Jurica Vratarić and Mirta Janeš from CARNET presented different services and support CARNET provides for whole education system, on national level, like: enrolment and registry system, eDiary, elassroom management system, education and learning analytics (encompasses measuring, collecting, analysing and reporting), digital education material management, career management system for students, professional development system for teachers and support for schools through helpdesk, webpages, and financial system. In addition to the thematic discussions, each meeting of the Group organises a What is going on? tour de table enabling all members to be aware and share their respective recent development in countries concerning educational data about students learning.