Evolving educational objectives, changing student needs and demographic developments require school systems to be highly responsive to new patterns of demand and adapt their provision accordingly. The organisation of school facilities, sectors and programmes plays a key role in doing so and in providing students with a high-quality education where they need it. This report aims to assist governments in efficiently and equitably organising school infrastructures and services to achieve their education policy objectives. It offers a systematic analysis of the governance of school networks, their adaptation to demographic changes and student needs in urban, rural and remote areas, as well as the vertical and horizontal co-ordination of education services across levels, sectors and programmes.

This report is the second in a series of thematic comparative reports, which brings together the findings of a major OECD project on the effective use of school resources, the OECD Review of Policies to Improve the Effectiveness of Resource Use in Schools (School Resources Review). The first report of the series was published in 2017 and analysed funding policies (The Funding of School Education: Connecting Resources and Learning). The next report will focus on the management of human resources in school education. The School Resources Review was launched in 2013 to help countries learn from one another by exchanging best practices, and to gather and disseminate evidence on effective school resources policies. The project highlights issues and explores ideas for policy development that may be difficult to raise in national debates. It seeks to inform discussions among stakeholders with new and different perspectives that are based on research and evidence from different countries.

Like the other thematic comparative reports of the series, this publication draws extensively on the experience of the nineteen school systems that were actively engaged in the preparation of this report. They vary significantly in their economic and social contexts, and illustrate a wide range of approaches to governing and adapting their school networks, and co-ordinating educational levels and sectors. This approach allows this report to take a comparative perspective on key policy issues. Although the analysis also considers the broader research evidence, and evidence from other OECD and partner countries, it nevertheless is important to acknowledge that the report – to a certain extent – reflects the practices and priorities of the participating education systems. The country examples cited in the report should not be assumed to reflect international best practices, but rather serve to expose policy makers to a wide range of country experiences, good practices and lessons learned. In addition, readers should bear in mind that policy initiatives that work well in the context of one school system are not necessarily transferable to others. The review has attempted to be sensitive to this by analysing policies pertaining to the organisation of school facilities, sectors and programmes in relation to the values, vision and organisation of different countries’ school systems, as well as their broader economic, social and political contexts.

This report was co-authored by Luka Boeskens (co-ordinator), David Liebowitz, Gonçalo Lima and Thomas Radinger with analytical contributions from Alfonso Echazarra from the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills. The work on this report was led by project manager Deborah Nusche (January 2017 to March 2018) and interim project manager Cláudia Sarrico (since April 2018) under the responsibility of Paulo Santiago, Head of the Policy Advice and Implementation Division. Eléonore Morena provided key administrative and logistical support for the review and editorial support during the early stages of the report’s production. Claire Berthelier was responsible for the copy-editing, layout and final formatting of the report. Henri Pearson co-ordinated the report’s production and supported its communication.

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