European Framework of Reference for Visual Literacy (CEFR-VL)

Target group of this text: Art teachers and general teachers (with no or very little specific training in art education)

Towards a Common European Framework of Reference for Visual Literacy

A group of European specialists of didactics, curriculum developers, teacher trainers and scientists in the field of the school subjects Arts, Design, Art Education, Visual Communication (since 2010 organized in the European Network of Visual Literacy – ENViL) has been working since 2013 on the project CEFR_VL  (acronym for European Framework of Reference for Visual Literacy). The European Union supports this project under the Lifelong Learning Programme in 2014 and 2015.

The project focuses on visual skills that learners can acquire in the classroom or in non-formal settings. We define these competencies as the interplay of knowledge, skills and attitudes. They enable the learner to resolve domain-specific tasks and problems of everyday life in the field of visual communication (e.g. the understanding of works of art or of media images, the design of objects, sketches or visualisations). The members of the consortium will submit the results on this basis in the spring 2016.


The Comenius partners create a prototype of a “Common European Framework of Reference forVisual Literacy – CEFR_VL“. This framework describes competencies that European citizens must have in the field of fine arts and applied arts (architecture and design) as well as the everyday visual culture when they participate in society and culture as responsible citizens.

  1. The framework is inclusive, it encorporates various European concepts, if they are considered as useful ideas in the context of European values ​.
  2. The framework describes areas of competencies on the basis of a competence structure model and specifies levels.
  3. Intermediate steps and results will be presented at conferences (especially InSEA) and discussed with the scientific community.


2010: Foundation of the European network of curriculum developers and teacher trainers for the school subject Art ( Art Education , Design, Visual Communication , image , etc.) with the aim of sharing experiences.
2010 – 2013: Expansion of the network of originally 10 members from three states to more than 50 members from 10 countries. Formation as the “European Network for Visual Literacy” ( ENViL ). Decision for German as a working language.
2013: Expansion of the focus on research aspects / stronger consideration of Universities.
2012: Decision to work on a common project, a research-based “Common European Framework of Reference for Visual Literacy – CEFR_VL“.
Presentation of the concept to the European InSEA Congress (International Society for Education through Art, the most important international NGO in this area) in Cyprus. Since then support of the European Board of InSEA .
2013: Allocation of funding by the European Union as a COMENIUS project .
2014 – 2015: Eleven partners have been workin on the prototype of a Common European Framework of Reference for Visual Literacy – CEFR_VL