COFACE webinar on inclusive education and COVID-19

A webinar on Monday 14 September explored how learners are excluded from education, particularly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The webinar was organised by COFACE Families Europe, a network of family associations, which focuses on policies and legislation that impact families and children. The webinar formed part of the organisation’s #BeTheSHIFT (Support, Human rights, Independence, Families and society Transition – SHIFT) campaign, which aims to achieve meaningful inclusion for people with disabilities and their families. 

The webinar focused on how to achieve inclusion for learners with special educational needs and/or disabilities as schools reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. There may be learners who cannot return to school buildings or who have difficulty accessing education online. Speakers presented the current educational situations in several European countries.

During the webinar, COFACE also launched a series of recommendations to aid the implementation of inclusive education. The recommendations, which are based on COFACE’s SHIFT Guide, were published after the webinar. After an introduction, a panel including Agency representative Mary Kyriazopoulou and a number of key European stakeholders discussed the recommendations. The key principles of the recommendations are in line with the Agency’s concept of a human rights approach to inclusion, and include collaborative working and partnership as essential to success. The panel agreed that the recommendations contain many positive steps to achieving more inclusive education systems. They discussed how inclusive education should be seen as an investment, rather than an expense, and how support for all learners’ needs is always important, but particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recording of the webinar, together with transcripts of some of the presentations, will soon be available on the webinar webpage.

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