The Agency’s Building Resilience through Inclusive Education Systems (BRIES) activity aims to support education stakeholders to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and develop more resilient education systems.
Following on from a literature review on the impact of COVID-19 which explored publications from 2020, the BRIES team published a report on the key European measures and practices in 2021 publications. The report examines how education systems in Europe have been affected by the pandemic and what lessons can be learnt from it. It also outlines ways to turn the crisis into an opportunity to develop more inclusive education systems. Phase 2 of BRIES is currently underway, which aims to engage stakeholders from different countries to develop a report describing tools and advice for building resilience to crisis situations in education systems.
The BRIES team recently participated in the annual conference of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in Ireland. The conference included the theme of ‘Post-pandemic education’, and Agency representative Dr Margarita Bilgeri presented the BRIES project. She gave an overview of the Agency and its work, and presented the Agency’s key principles for inclusive education. She then outlined how these key principles relate to the COVID-19 pandemic, as countries recognise the need to improve equity issues and access to digital learning while reducing achievement gaps and ensuring learner and teacher well-being. Finally, she gave an overview of the BRIES work to date and the activity’s next steps.
In addition, representatives from University College Dublin’s School of Education presented a study investigating the impact of COVID-19 on learners with special educational needs (SEN) in Ireland, which was commissioned by the NCSE. The study confirms the BRIES findings so far, including the importance of increased training in digital technologies for both teachers and learners, the need for more support for learners with SEN in remote learning scenarios, and the importance of focusing on teacher and learner well-being and mental health.
Representatives from the Irish Department of Education and the Change Programme at the Education and Training Boards Ireland gave presentations on welcoming refugees and learners from Ukraine into the Irish education system. The presentations explored the challenges of crisis situations for education systems, particularly for learners with SEN. They also provided details of useful practices for including refugee learners in education systems, many of which are reflected in the BRIES findings, such as the importance of regular and meaningful communication and collaboration with all stakeholders.