Early childhood intervention means as early as possible, as flexible as possible, as close as possible and as short as possible.
As early as possible concerns, first of all, providing an intervention at an early stage in a child’s life. It also covers many other relevant elements such as intervening as soon as the need is detected, putting early assessment in place, providing the required support as early as possible, and preparing and planning transition phases from one educational phase to the next and to employment.
Although the various Agency projects have not analysed the reduction of school dropout rates, it can be stated that good policies and practices in early detection, together with early and efficient support result in a reduction in school dropout rates.
This and other outcomes from the Agency’ International Conference in 2013 have been summarised in the Five Key Messages for Inclusive Education report.
Access to information is a fundamental right – it empowers learners and facilitates their participation in society
Every person has the right to access information on an equal basis. This is supported by over 150 countries that have signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In today’s information society access to information is a key factor in personal empowerment and meaningful participation in society.
The Accessible Information Provision for Lifelong Learning (i-access) project has identified 4 Guiding Principles underpinning recommendations for policy.
Acknowledging access to information as a fundamental right changes the question ‘If accessible information should be provided’ to ‘How can accessible information be provided’. Policy can promote the uptake of accessible information provision. The i-access project provides recommendations for accessibility policy on an organisational, national and European level.
i-access has formed the basis for a follow-up project providing practical Guidelines for accessible information provision: the ICT for Information Accessibility in Learning.
Policy makers should develop a clear role for specialist provision in order to provide support to learners and increase the capability of mainstream schools.
There is a need to maintain the specialist knowledge and skills of resource centre personnel in order to provide high quality support for learners.
Resource centres should also be equipped to develop skills and knowledge within mainstream schools that will enable them to include all learners from their local community.
The Agency examined how systems of provision are organised in order to support inclusive education in 23 European countries. Conclusions from this project can be found in the project summary report and recommendations for policy makers have been included in the project policy brief.
Inclusive practice benefits from the fight against discrimination, racism and xenophobia, while raising awareness and supporting positive practice at school.
Good practice promotes integrative and inclusive policies that are open to diversity, highlighting the educational values brought by all pupils, whatever origin or need they might have.
Schools should have adequate guidelines and resources in order to implement inclusive practice. Schools should aim to:
- Understand and respect diversity;
- Avoid any admission and registration policy that promotes segregation;
- Recognise, support and implement educational strategies responding to the needs of pupils with special educational needs and an immigrant background;
- Be actively involved in co-operation with services, including associations of and for immigrants;
- Encourage communication with, as well as participation of families.
These are some of the main findings of the Agency’s Multicultural Diversity and Special Needs Education (2007–2009) project which can be found in the project summary report and on the project web area.
To ensure that the rights of all learners are fulfilled, countries need to increase the ‘inclusive capability’ of all schools.
Countries need to clarify their view of inclusion and focus on building the capability of all schools to cater for learner diversity rather than distributing additional resources to meet the needs of identified groups.
The Organisation of Provision to support Inclusive Education project, conducted by the Agency from 2011 to 2013 examined how systems of provision are organised to meet the needs of learners with disabilities under the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The effective use of ICT to support learning in inclusive education exemplifies good teaching for all learners.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become part of everyday life for many people. It has an impact on many aspects of society, including education, training and employment. In particular, ICT is an enabling tool for people with disabilities and special needs.
The Agency’s ICT for Inclusion project (2012–2013) has examined what critical policy issues need to be addressed in order to ensure that all learners and teachers are able to effectively use ICT tools to support learning in inclusive settings.
Developing a high quality education system that gives all learners the opportunity to raise their achievement is an ethical imperative.
The RA4AL project identified 6 themes critical to maintaining high expectations and raising achievement:
- collaborative policy and practice;
- support for school and system leaders;
- inclusive accountability;
- personalisation through listening to learners;
- professional development for inclusive education and
- pedagogical approaches for all.
When these elements are combined, more relevant experiences can be provided to engage young people and develop the skills they need for work and for life.
The RA4AL project has formed the basis of a longer-term project Raising the Achievement of all Learners in Inclusive Education 2013–2016.