Key messages in relation to inclusive and special needs education: A comparative point of view in European countries

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1 European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training Key messages in relation to inclusive and special needs education: A comparative point of view in European countries Contributor: Amanda Watkins Date: December 2010 The concept of Outcomes is not new to education and training; what is now undoubtedly evident is the massively increased salience and prominence of this concept over the past few years in national and European policies and in any discussion about curriculum reform. In common with learning outcomes, outputs, attainments, products aims, objectives, capacities, assessment standards or (key) competences, outcomes of learning feature in many official curricula and other documents. However, there are important conceptual differences between these terms and not yet a clearly marked delimitation. Taking into consideration these different understanding, we would like you to provide some brief information on the following issues: Compulsory Education Systems in countries The education systems of 27 member countries of the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education differ at all levels. Information on approaches taken in compulsory education countries is available from the National Overview section of the Agency website: The overviews are factual descriptions of systems and are presented in thematic areas that can be compared between countries: 1. Legal System including rights of children with SENs 2. Financing 3. Identification of Special Needs 4. Special Needs Education within the Education System including: - both mainstream and special systems - co-operation with other services 5. Teacher Training including basic and specialist training 6. Development of Integration/Inclusion presenting the process of development of inclusion in the country and cover both views of and routes to integration 7. Quality Indicators for SNE: a description of the ways in which each country identifies and ensures quality SNE provision. [The SNE data for each country is available as a final section in the National Overviews.]

2 These overviews provide different aspects of information relating to curricular approaches in compulsory education. Teacher Education Curricular Initial information on systems for Teacher Education for Inclusion is available from: In the coming months, this website will include country reports describing the systems of initial teacher education, including approaches to competences based approaches in 26 Agency member countries. Assessment Approaches Information on assessment issues and approaches in 25 Agency member countries is available from: A main challenge facing all European countries centres upon developing their systems of pupil assessment so that they facilitate and do not act as a potential barrier to inclusion. With the Agency project, the key question was for consideration was how assessment in inclusive classrooms informs decisionmaking about teaching and learning approaches, methods and steps in the best possible ways. Three areas of challenges were identified: (i) Using assessment information to inform monitoring of educational standards in the most appropriate way; (ii) Ensuring assessment used within initial identification of SEN informs teaching and learning; (iii) Developing assessment policies and procedures that promote on-going assessment. A main conclusion of the project was the identification of the concept inclusive assessment. This was defined as: An approach to assessment in mainstream settings where policy and practice are designed to promote the learning of all pupils as far as possible. The overall goal of inclusive assessment is that all assessment policies and procedures should support and enhance the successful inclusion and participation of all pupils vulnerable to exclusion, including those with SEN (Watkins, 2007, p.47). Inclusive assessment is based on the general principle of celebrating diversity by identifying and valuing all pupils progress and achievements in mainstream settings. It involves legislative measures that take into account the needs of pupils with SEN, ensuring that all pupils are entitled to take part in the all assessment procedures in a way that meets their learning needs. It also very 2

3 clearly links into and supports the strategies and approaches identified as being effective in inclusive classroom practice. Inclusive assessment requires that: - Teachers in mainstream classrooms should have the appropriate attitudes, training, support and resources for assessment; - Mainstream schools should promote an inclusive culture, plan for inclusive assessment and be appropriately organised; - The work of all specialist support staff involved in assessing pupils with SEN should effectively contribute to inclusive assessment in mainstream classrooms; - All educational policies concerned with assessment - both general and SNE specific - should aim to promote inclusive assessment practice and take into account the needs of all pupils vulnerable to exclusion, including those with SEN. Perceived Challenges and Opportunities Various aspects of Agency work (Meijer et al (2006), Watkins (2007), Kyriazopoulou and Weber (2009) all available from: suggests that there are a number of areas for policy development requiring further attention: - The on-going tension between the need for schools to demonstrate increasing academic achievements and the position of pupils with special education needs; - The development of systematic monitoring and evaluation procedures within the framework of special needs education in inclusive and segregated settings; - The development of flexible frameworks of provision that support inclusive practice applied to all sectors of educational provision, including the secondary sector, transition from school to employment phase, post compulsory, higher and adult education (with the same degree of focus being given as within the preprimary and primary sectors). Across the Agency member countries work, it is possible to highlight a number of common factors for implementing inclusive approaches to teaching and learning. These are factors within educational environments involved in the various European projects conducted by the Agency that appear to underpin the work of teachers and other professionals and stakeholders in inclusion. These are general factors that are not always related to classroom practice as such. These factors have more to do with the overall educational environment and how this environment can support (or otherwise) successful inclusion. The factors of the educational environments that appear to support inclusive assessment can be grouped into two aspects of inclusion policy and practice: - Infrastructure: the structures, policies and support systems for inclusion; - Shared value systems: the attitudes, professional values and beliefs that underpin a school s educational culture and approach. 3

4 In conclusion, two further arguments as a result of Agency work can be put forward for consideration: - Special teaching approaches designed to meet the needs of pupils with specific needs and or disabilities is good specialised teaching for all - the only difference that it should include special methods and tools as appropriate for particular needs. - All the evidence suggests that what is good for pupils with SEN is good for all pupils in inclusive settings. Good teaching approaches benefit all pupils. 4

5 TEACHER EDUCATION FOR INCLUSION A project conducted by the: European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education The European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education is an independent and self-governing organisation established by its member countries to act as their platform for collaboration regarding the exchange of information on development of provision for learners with special educational needs. The ultimate goal for the Agency is to improve educational policy and practice for these learners. The Agency currently has national networks in 27 European countries 1 and is financed by the member countries ministries of education and the European Commission Lifelong Learning Programme, as one of the 6 institutions pursuing an aim of European interest in the field of education (Jean Monnet Programme) 2. The developing co-operation between European policy makers in the area of teacher education is highlighting a range of common concerns and priority areas for future work. These form the basis for the current European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education project on Teacher Education for Inclusion. The following key challenges were identified by Agency Representative Board members (RBs) and National Co-ordinators (NCs) as being of priority within the Teacher Education for inclusion project: - What kind of teachers do we need for an inclusive society in a 21 st century school? - What are the essential teacher competences for inclusive education? It was agreed the project would focus upon: - The training of mainstream, general teachers and how they are prepared to work in inclusive settings; - The initial training phase as a priority. 1 Austria, Belgium (Flemish and French speaking communities), Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales). 2 The Action Programme in the field of Lifelong Learning for entered into force on 14 th December Source: 5

6 The essential question for consideration is: how all teachers are prepared via their initial training to be 'inclusive'. The fact that across 26 member states, there is so much agreement on priorities for teacher education presents a major opportunity shared problems motivate collaborative working at both policy and practice levels. Such a collaborative approach has been the basis for the Agency project. The project began in early 2009 and, following initial preparatory activities, the project has developed three activity 'tracks' involving 55 experts from 26 European countries. These experts from policy and teacher education backgrounds work collaboratively on the overall theme of how mainstream teachers are prepared via their initial training to be 'inclusive'. International Literature Review In order to put the Agency project activities into a wider context, an extensive review of literature has been undertaken and two documents are now available: - A review of international policy statements impacting upon teacher education. This document presents information on documents, reports and project write-ups from key international organisations: mainly the European Council, Parliament and Commission, UNESCO, OECD and the Council of Europe. - A review of international literature in the field of teacher education generally and teacher education for inclusion specifically. The review has been developed with input from representatives of the European Commission, DG Education and Culture, UNESCO International Bureau of Education and OECD-CERI. Most importantly, a review of research information has been conducted by experts from 18 countries participating in the Agency project and this is also included in the review document. This research review sets out to provide an overview of literature which informs further work on the Agency Teacher Education for Inclusion project; in particular, it provides information regarding: Changing conceptions of inclusion; The European context for teacher education for inclusion; Policy frameworks to support teacher education for inclusion; Effective practice in initial teacher education for inclusion with a focus on models of training, curriculum, teaching practice and assessment. Copies of these documents are available for download from: Country Reports 26 countries are taking part in project activities and focussed country information has been collected via a questionnaire in order to provide: - A description of the reality of teacher education situations in countries; 6

7 - Information on practice that indicates ways forward/effective innovations. All country information is (as of 2010) being analysed to identify trends, similarities, challenges and features of innovative practice. This detailed country information will be used in different ways: - English (and where available country language versions) of reports will be available as country reports via the Agency web site; - The information will be put into a searchable thematic database of key topics; - The information will also be used in preparing a project summary report. The summary report will use all sources of project information: literature review; country survey information; country information/reports and will aim to provide an overview of current situations in countries and identify the challenges as well as evidence-based best practice; make recommendations for policy and practice. Overall, the summary report will attempt to use all sources of information to address the issue of how mainstream teachers are prepared via their initial training to be 'inclusive'. (The report will be available in mid 2011, translated into all Agency member country languages.) Developing a profile of inclusive teachers: RBs and NCs, via the initial country survey, requested information on the necessary competences, attitudes and standards required of and for all teachers working in inclusive settings in mainstream schools. This is a main concern also identified in the international documents and statements on priorities for teacher education. A major task of the Agency project is to develop a profile of inclusive mainstream teachers that is based upon national level information, but is then agreed upon at the European level. This profile being developed considers the following key aspects: - What attitudes do mainstream teachers working in inclusive settings need? - What knowledge and skills do they need? - What initial training to develop both the above do they need? - What are the implications for training all teacher trainers? - What systemic changes are needed to allow they to implement their training? - What policy framework is needed for all of the above to happen? All areas of teacher competence are comprised of three elements: attitudes, knowledge and skills. A certain attitude or belief demands a certain knowledge or level of understanding and then skills in order to implement knowledge practically. The working definition of a competence used within the project is that a competence is a statement describing teacher action that can be demonstrated in some way. A teacher should be able to provide some sort of evidence that 7

8 they: hold certain beliefs (attitudes and values) understand certain things (knowledge and understanding) and can effectively do certain things (skills and abilities). This working definition fits in with the Bologna process model ( of higher education leading to clear learning outcomes. The table presented in the Annex summarises some key factors relating to the use of competences in teacher education systems in the participating countries. Rationale for using competences It can be argued that the profile of competences document aims for ideals within ITE, but the Agency project experts believe the content is realistic and should be the goal for all ITE if the move towards inclusion is to be achieved across Europe. The following statements outline an agreed rationale for the proposed competences for inclusive education. (i) The aim of a profile is to present agreed recommendations on areas of necessary competence for all teachers working in inclusive settings, along with a consideration of key issues relating to their implementation. The focus of the profile is upon competences to be delivered in initial teacher education (ITE) programmes preparing students to work in the compulsory education sector. (ii) The competences for working in inclusive education are necessary for all teachers, not just specialists, just as inclusive education is the responsibility of all teachers, not just specialists. The competences should reinforce this critical message. (iii) Competences for inclusive education should not only focus upon meeting the needs of specific groups of learners in particular (e.g. those with special educational needs). Competences should provide all teachers with the foundations they need to work with a diverse range of needs within a mainstream classroom. The competences should reinforce the critical message that inclusive education is an approach for all pupils learning, not just an approach for a few with additional needs. (iv) The competences identified for ITE should be seen as a foundation of key attitudes, knowledge and skills that need to be built upon during induction and further teacher education opportunities. Competences are not finite or complete, but are a basis for a teacher s continuous professional development of knowledge, understanding and skills. Clear progression routes are crucial and competences should be seen as an integral part of a continuum of professional development opportunities, including specialist SEN training courses. (v) Competences needed by all teachers to work in inclusive education are not in contradiction to specialist training for SNE teachers who may support mainstream teachers in their work. Rather, the competences follow the UNESCO model of general, specialist and expert teachers all working within inclusive education. (vi) Competences should not be narrow the aim of using competences should be to develop teachers as lifelong learners and reflective practitioners. The identified competences should be in line with the principle that teaching is a 8

9 reflexive profession. Competences should move away from the paradigm of teachers as deliverers of knowledge. Their training should prepare them for this by being based on a model of ITE where learning and competence are developed, not delivered via content based curricular. (vii) The profile of competences should be a tool for student teachers as much as for their teacher educators. It should support their initial teacher education and prepare them to teach to a competency approach throughout their careers. (viii) Competences need to be developed and refined by means of a dialogue with wider stakeholders within national situations and contexts. Through such a process, agreed competences can potentially be a mechanism for reducing the perceived disconnection between classroom teachers and other stakeholders in education. (ix) Competences for inclusive education should be seen as one starting point for course design/planning. The principle of inclusive education as a systemic approach should apply to ITE as well as school based curricula. The proposed areas of competence for working in inclusive classrooms The starting point for competences for inclusive education are core beliefs and values about teaching and learning that are the foundation for acquiring knowledge, developing understanding and implementing skills. These three core values relate to: 1 Personal responsibility for learners - all pupils in a class are the class teacher s responsibility; 2 Working with others - collaboration and teamwork are essential approaches for all teachers to take; 3 Personal professional development - teaching is a learning activity and teachers must take responsibility for their lifelong learning. These core values relate to all teachers work, but in relation to inclusive education there are a number of specific areas of competence (rather than specific and perhaps discrete competences) that all teachers must develop in order to prepare them to work effectively in inclusive classrooms. The specification of these discrete areas of competence as well as a consideration of the implications of the application of competences in ITE is the current focus of work within the Agency TE4I project. 9

10 Annex: DRAFT summary of country information Country Length of training and qualification Competences outlined in national policy/used in ITE Competences cover inclusive education Definition / approaches to inclusion Austria 3 yrs primary 4.5 secondary Bachelor/PG Diploma Legislation states all courses must use competences. Set by individual HEIs but term inclusion used in only 4/14 colleges Barrier-free inclusion set out in 2007 paper on re-design of school system (not High schools). Have legal basis for nondiscrimination Belgium (Fl) 3 yrs Bachelor ( +can do 30 credit PG) 180 credits, 45 are teaching practice Government competences 2007 Primary and secondary inc some info on attitudes Dealing with diverse needs beyond SEN inclusion as process of quality improvement. Equal opportunities act. Belgium (Fr) 3-5 yrs Certificate/Bache lor (for secondary) None - Integration is commonly referred to Cyprus 4 yrs Bachelor None. Colleges determine content Some relevant course content Term integration still commonly used but moving towards inclusion Czech Republic 4 yrs Bachelor/Masters (Secondary) Standards /competences being developed (HEIs differ) Has National Action Plan for Inclusive Education. Denmark yrs. Bachelor (primary) Masters (secondary) Competences in SEN some reference to attitudes Broad definition inclusion as dynamic process school accommodates all learners but segregation increasing Estonia 3-5 yrs (plus on job training)bachelor /Masters Currently working towards broader definition of inclusion Finland 4/5 years. New masters degree Not defined centrally but national guidelines Basic special needs studies in all ITE Broad view of inclusion and diversity 10

11 2007 strategy France 3+ years. Bachelor changing to Masters 10 skills outlined centrally for teachers Moving towards wider definition but inclusion replacing integration without change in underpinning ideas Germany years. Cert/Bachelor primary further in-school training for secondary Standard by Standing Conf of Ministers 2004/2006? Developing SEN as part of ITE Differences between Lander/problems with terminology Hungary 2-4 yrs (primary/seconda ry Bachelor) Iceland 3 yr B.Ed plus extra yr for secondary Central requirements but decisions made at local level Some content integrated, some specialist Wider view of inclusion Ireland 3 or 4 years Bachelor/PG Diploma Teaching Council required learning outcomes UNESCO broad definition Latvia 2-5 yrs. Bachelor Standards being revised colleges decide content intro to SEN, some content re attitudes No official definition refs to social inclusion Lithuania 3-4 years Bachelor Comp profile and standards content varies across colleges No formal definition limited view focusing on access to physical environment National Ed Strategy (legal basis) Luxembo urg yrs. Bachelor primary, Masterssecondary None. Content set out by Ministry Inclusion in primary little in secondary No official definition Malta 3-4 years (Bachelor PGCE) Comp for primary Usually associated with mainstreaming SEN Netherla nds 4 yrs (240 ECTS) Bachelor - primary Masters - secondary content decided by individual colleges Some coverage Intro to sen in primary SEN Appropriate education for SEN Norway 3-6 yrs. Bachelor primary 4 yrs+ secondary 11

12 Poland Portugal Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerla nd UK (England ) UK (Norther n Ireland) UK (Scotlan d) UK (Wales) 3-5 yrs. Bachelor primary, Masters - secondary 3-4 yrs Masters 3-5 years Bachelor primary Masterssecondary 3-4 years (240 ECTS) Bachelor primary Masters - secondary Content in legislation but autonomy in colleges decisions by individual colleges Centrally set yrs Bachelor Not centrally set 3-4 yrs (+ diploma) Bachelor 3-4 yrs Bachelor/PGCE 3-4 yrs Bachelor/PGCE 4 yrs degree or PGCE 3-4 yrs. Bachelor/PGCE Used by individual HEIs TDA standards including attitudes. HEIs are responsible for how these are met. some in new programmes post Bologna but ad hoc 6-12 ECTS SEN a subject in basic training Approx 5% course many sep SEN modules New law is inclusive but no specific mention Moving to wider definition Wider definition key principle of reform. Attention to diversity. Organic law of education School for all inclusion not specified in recent legislation Principles agreed by college of Rectors (German) Still understood largely re: SEN Teaching Council As above GTC Scotland Colleges decide content WAG - standards as for England input on rights model, inclusion and barriers to learning Additional support for learning wider view Additional learning needs still main focus 12

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