The Standing Committee for Equality is a consultative body for the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE). The Standing Committee works to ensure recommendations and priorities around equal opportunities in education move forward. It is made up of representatives of 132 education trade unions from across Europe.
As part of a two-year project entitled ‘Education Trade Unions and Inclusive Schools: Embracing Diversity in Education’, the Standing Committee held a conference on Diversity and Inclusion in February. The aim of the conference, which took place in Brussels, Belgium, was to discuss and agree on the ETUCE Action Plan for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
The Agency was invited to take part in the conference as an expert in a panel discussion entitled ‘It’s not just about equality: The impact of political developments and discourses on inclusion in education and in the society’. In the discussion, representatives from teaching trade unions in Turkey, Poland and the United Kingdom described examples of barriers to inclusion in their countries. These include socio-economic factors, such as poverty and lack of availability of schools, and discrimination due to sexual orientation and racism. They also emphasised potential solutions to these barriers, such as professional development.
Agency representative Annet de Vroey explained how policy and legislation can impact the challenges and barriers faced by learners with special educational needs across Europe. She explained that teacher professional learning is a major factor in capacity building for mainstream education, as outlined in the Agency’s Teacher Professional Learning for Inclusion project.
The conference concluded with the drafting of the Action Plan and discussion of the next steps. Visit the Education Trade Unions and Inclusive Schools: Embracing Diversity in Education project webpage to find out more.