Promoting inclusive education: addressing challenges in legislation, educational policy and practice.
The Commission supported the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs to implement a new law on inclusive education through the Structural Reform Support Programme (the predecessor of the Technical Support Instrument (TSI)). The project is fully aligned with the European Pillar of Social Rights which provides that “everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training, and life-long learning”.
The project aimed to support a shift in practices and approaches towards a comprehensive educational reform that puts inclusion at its centre. As part of the project, mainstream teachers were empowered to respond to the diversity of needs of all learners, including pupils with disabilities, refugees, students from underprivileged backgrounds, and pupils from vulnerable social groups.
This successful project has been presented in the conference on Equity and Inclusion in Education organised under the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU, and in the event ‘No Child Left Behind’ presided by Elisa Ferreira, the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, in the context of the Porto Summit of May 2021. The project informs the Commission flagship project on the Implementation of the European Child Guarantee.
Until recently, inclusive education was perceived as a special needs issue in Greece and was treated as such in legislation, policy, and practice. Pupils not able to follow education in mainstream schools would attend special education school units. This resulted in a gradual decrease of pupils with special needs attending mainstream education.
To enable the integration of all pupils with special needs into mainstream schools, Greece adopted a law on inclusive education.
The support provided consisted of the following activities: (i) clarifying the mission and roles of newly created support structures; (ii) strengthening the qualification of professionals involved; and (iii) building a strong collaboration among the support structures and mainstream schools.
The European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education was the provider of technical expertise.
The main outputs of the projects were desk research, analysis of comparable practices from the other EU Member States, consultations, training and workshops for stakeholder engagement, proposals for assessment and support protocols, as well as the provision of a Conceptual Paper and Inclusive Education Guidelines based on European best practices. The training and guidance encouraged a mentality shift towards a comprehensive approach to inclusion. School teachers were provided with the necessary tools to respond to the diversity of all learners' needs to enhance inclusion.
This project supported the Ministry in empowering mainstream schools to respond to the diversity of all learners, in line with the shared European vision for inclusive education systems. As a main result, a conceptual framework and implementation guidelines were designed, in line with EU good practices, assisting the key stakeholders from Greece in their efforts to transform the educational system. This achievement provides a solid basis for future developments, considering inclusive education as a process of continuous reform. A follow-up project has been requested by the Ministry to further support the implementation of the results achieved during this project.
More about the project
Summary of its main results at: www.european-agency.org/news