All Agency member countries are committed to working towards more inclusive education systems. They do so in different ways, depending on their past and current contexts and histories.

An inclusive approach requires a move away from ‘formal’ assessment and labelling, with separate educational provision for different groups. Central to this commitment and understanding of inclusive education are the legal definitions countries have to identify (and potentially label) learners to make provision available for them.

The Legislative Definitions around Learners Vulnerable to Exclusion desk research activity addresses how Agency member countries legally define concepts around learners who are vulnerable to exclusion. It aims to collect evidence on countries’ current definitions of and approaches to learner groups and risk factors within inclusive education systems.

Activity framework

Agency member countries’ shared ultimate vision for inclusive education systems is that all learners of any age are provided with meaningful, high-quality educational opportunities in their local community, alongside their friends and peers. This vision is the focal point of all Agency work. Inclusive education systems are seen as a vital component within the wider aspiration of more socially inclusive societies that all countries align themselves with, both ethically and politically.

The Agency’s member countries have identified the need for Agency work to address the understanding of risk factors for exclusion. The Legislative Definitions activity is a starting point that will contribute to a wider understanding of this issue.

The goal is to provide a snapshot of the current situation within countries and identify trends across countries towards the vision of inclusive education systems.

Work began in autumn 2021 and the final materials will be available by the end of 2022.

Participants and target group

This activity covers all Agency member countries. The Agency team compiled initial background reports for each member country. Member country representatives then had the opportunity to provide feedback and approve their respective country reports.

International organisations (e.g. the European Commission) and decision-makers (e.g. Members of the European Parliament) often contact the Agency to enquire about existing national and shared European and/or international definitions of concepts such as special educational needs or available data on learners vulnerable to exclusion. Therefore, they, as well as Agency member countries, are the target group for this activity’s outputs.


This activity aims to collect information from Agency member countries focusing on legislative definitions around learners vulnerable to exclusion in education systems.

Specifically, it seeks to collect evidence on where countries currently stand regarding the definition of and approach to learner groups and risk factors within inclusive education systems. The goal is to then identify trends within and across countries in this area.

Activities and outputs

The desk research will focus on collecting information from existing Agency publications and documents of legal definitions around learners vulnerable to exclusion. This information will then be categorised, and emerging issues will be identified.

The activity has five phases:

  1. Initial research and collection of sources
  2. Collecting country data on legal definitions and drafting a country report for each Agency member country
  3. Analysis of results
  4. Presentation of key findings
  5. Dissemination of final outputs.

The outputs are as follows:

children’s /learners’ rights
compulsory education
country policy review
early school leaving
multicultural diversity
organisation of provision
policy analysis
policy development
social inclusion
universal design for learning

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