On the occasion of the European day of the persons with disabilities (4th-5th December 2017), the European Parliament has started to analyse the implementation of the EU Disability Strategy 2020, including education and training for children and adults with disabilities and special needs and access to quality education and lifelong learning. More precisely, the ‘Committee on Culture and Education (CULT)’ of the European Parliament has recently published an opinion (2017/2127INI) which addresses key issues for teachers and educators teaching students with disabilities and special educational needs. In particular, the CULT Committee proposes the following recommendations to the ‘Committee on Employment and Social Affairs’ of the Parliament:

  • Preparing teachers and trainers to work with children with disabilities and providing them with adequate support is essential;
  • Encouraging the member states to design inclusive education, training and continuous professional development for teachers and trainers;
  • Encouraging the exchange of best practices on inclusive education and lifelong learning between teachers, staff, governing bodies, students and pupils with disabilities; and
  • Calling the member states to ensure that education and training are organised to include children and adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, providing counselling, assistance and individual teaching.

ETUCE welcomes the CULT Committee’s recommendations, but underlines that the support to teachers must be built on adequate public investment in continuous training as well as in the necessary counselling and advice in teaching and in tutoring so as to support personalized learning needs and promote individual equal opportunities of learners with disabilities and special needs at all levels of education, including in ECE and primary school. Education trade unions have also a key role to play in fostering cooperation opportunities with the whole school-community (e.g. parents, families, local services, etc) with the view to backing the work of teachers in promoting the educational inclusion of students with disabilities and special educational at all levels of education, including the use of ICTs with the necessary (adapted) information accessibility standards.

Commenting on the recent developments in special needs education, European Director, Susan Flocken, said: “ETUCE firmly believes that children/students with disabilities and special needs have the right to attend ordinary schools, to have access to specialised teachers and other education staff who are trained and able to respond to their specific needs and to give access to children with special needs to ad-hoc tools and programmes. Likewise, increased public investment in initial and continuous professional training for education personnel with disabilities and special needs at all levels of education is needed.

To learn more about the ETUCE position on ‘inclusiveness and special educational needs’, please click here and on the 2016 ETUCE Reply to the Public Consultation of the European Commission on the Review of the European Disability Strategy.