The eBulletin presents updates and news on projects from the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education and its member countries.
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This issue of the eBulletin brings you news about the Agency’s support to the Ministry of Education in Poland in the framework of the European Commission’s Structural Reform Support Programme. There is an update on the recent Audit of Iceland’s system for Inclusive Education and information about a range of meetings, conferences and seminars that the Agency has played a part in. 

The Agency has recently finalised a variety of publications and online resources:

  • Read the completed documents from the Financing Policies for Inclusive Education Systems (FPIES) project 
  • Explore the 2018 European Agency Statistics on Inclusive Education (EASIE) dataset, and
  • Review the 2014 / 2016 EASIE Key Messages and Findings document in your own language.

Find out about these developments and publications below.

For more news from the Agency, visit the News section

Agency Support via the Structural Reform Support Programme

The Agency has been approached by the European Commission in order to technically support two activities approved in the frame of the Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP). Both activities, requested by the Ministries of Education in Cyprus and Poland, are fully funded by the Commission and concern legislative educational changes regarding inclusive education.

The goal of this technical support provided by the Agency is to provide assistance to the concerned Ministry of Education to ongoing work towards inclusive education and to design a reform of special education provision in order to make it more efficient and inclusive, and in line with the priorities at European and international levels. 


The Agency supporting quality Inclusive Education in Poland 

On 5–6 March 2019, the Polish Ministry of National Education (MEN) and the Agency held a conference in Warsaw on the final recommendations from the Agency’s work under the Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP). This marked the end of the first phase of the project, which began in 2018 when the European Commission Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) contracted the Agency to provide technical support to the MEN in improving Poland’s inclusive education system. 

The Agency’s first task was to prepare draft recommendations based on the results of a mapping framework developed for the SRSP in Poland. The analysis aimed to identify the education system’s strengths and weaknesses. It also aimed to produce recommendations, taking into account national priorities, that could serve as the general principles and the basis for inclusive education. 

The Steering Committee, MEN officials, the SRSS, key stakeholders and participants in workshop discussions provided feedback on the draft recommendations. Based on this, the Agency prepared 16 final recommendations and four priority actions. These were approved by the MEN and the SRSS. 

The Warsaw conference was the last of the activities requested by the MEN. It provided an opportunity to sum up the first project phase, disseminate the final recommendations and discuss how best to implement them.

Anna Zalewska, Poland’s Minister of National Education, opened the conference. She reiterated the MEN’s commitment to working towards legislative reform of the education system. Geraldine Mahieu, Head of Unit at the SRSS, described the SRSP and how the project came to be, emphasising that it was driven by the MEN as a national priority. She pointed out that the shift towards inclusive education reflects good practice and recommendations at European level. The Agency’s Director, Cor J.W. Meijer, discussed inclusive education in European countries, while Amanda Watkins and Victoria Soriano presented the final recommendations. Filomena Pereira, from Portugal’s Ministry of Education, provided information about her country’s policy framework, initiatives and implementation strategy for inclusive education. Joanna Wilewska, Director of the MEN Inclusive Education Department, was the conference moderator. 

The conference also included workshops with stakeholders from the MEN, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Centre for Education Development and members of the MEN’s expert team for developing a new model of inclusive education. The discussions centred on problem areas identified during the work on a new model of inclusive education in the context of the final recommendations. Elżbieta Neroj, from the MEN Inclusive Education Department, moderated the session. 

The next step of the Agency’s work in Poland is to support the project’s second phase – the reform of special needs and inclusive education – which will be based on the final recommendations. 
The Polish Minister of National Education, Anna Zalewska, welcoming the Agency participants and the representative of the European Commission, Konstantin Scheller
The Polish Minister of National Education, Anna Zalewska, welcoming the Agency participants and the representative of the European Commission, Konstantin Scheller

Education for All in Iceland: Implementation of the External Audit of Iceland's System for Inclusive Education

In early 2015, representatives from the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture approached the Agency to request an External Audit of the Icelandic System for Inclusive Education. The Agency conducted the Audit during 2016, working in co-operation with, but independently from, Icelandic stakeholders. 

In spring 2017, the Minister of Education, Science and Culture formed a steering group with representatives from all stakeholder groups to implement the Audit recommendations. This work was launched at the Education for All in Iceland seminar in August 2017, where the Audit findings were presented to the educational community in Iceland. At the same time, the Minister approved the steering group’s plan for implementing the Agency recommendations during 2017–2019. 

The steering group has followed the Audit recommendations for implementation, especially the critical levers, which are three inter-connected priority actions considered necessary to build a foundation for longer-term actions. These are:

  • Initiate a widespread stakeholder debate on what inclusive education should look like in practice across all municipalities, school phases and schools.
  • The review and rationalisation of the current resource allocation mechanisms with a view to improving effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.
  • Initiate discussions leading to the agreement of minimum levels of service provision for supporting inclusive education in all schools.  

To achieve the first critical lever, the steering group held 23 meetings in autumn 2018. The meetings took place in various locations in Iceland, with representatives from the educational, welfare and health communities. In total, around 2,300 stakeholders, from all school levels up to local governments, participated.

As a follow-up and in light of the meetings’ outcomes, the steering group has begun discussing how best to start working on agreeing minimum levels of service provision for supporting inclusive education in all schools in Iceland.  

One of the vital steps in 2019 is to review and develop the current resource allocation mechanisms. The steering group plans to use the Agency’s Financing Policies for Inclusive Education Systems project Policy Guidance Framework and Self-Review Tool for future work in this field, with support from the Agency. 

Swedish Minister of Education opens Agency Bi-Annual Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden

On 21–23 May 2019, the Agency held its bi-annual meeting in Stockholm, at the kind invitation of the Swedish National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (SPSM).

The bi-annual meeting was attended by around 50 Agency country representatives from across Europe, who took part in meetings and information exchange sessions topics connected to inclusive education. 

The meeting opened with an introduction from the Swedish Minister of Education, Anna Ekström. The full video can be viewed on the Agency YouTube channel. In her introduction, Ms Ekström outlined the importance of inclusive education while recognising the challenges faced by the Swedish education system. She also emphasised the importance of the Agency’s values and how collaborations with the Agency and other European countries, sharing knowledge and experiences, can help to implement and monitor inclusive education systems. 

Director General of the SPSM, Fredrik Malmberg, outlined the challenges in creating inclusive education settings and representatives from Portugal presented their plans for an inclusive school system. Throughout the event, ideas and experiences were shared between country representatives. 

The SPSM also hosted a special event on inclusive education, in which Agency Director, Cor J. W. Meijer, and Assistant Director, Amanda Watkins, presented the organisation’s work. This was followed by a panel discussion including representatives from the National Agency of Education, the Schools’ Inspectorate, SPSM, SALAR and Uppsala University.

For more information, contact the Agency country representatives for Sweden

Swedish Minister of Education Anna Ekström
Swedish Minister of Education Anna Ekström

Agency Thematic Session on Early Childhood Education and Care in ET2020 Working Group Meeting

Inclusive Early Childhood Education (IECE) Logo

The Agency participated in the second meeting of the of the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Working Group, one of seven groups set up as part of the European Union’s Education and Training 2020 (ET 2020) programme. 

The Working Groups provide a forum for the sharing of good practice and experience to support policy-making in education and training both nationally and at EU level. The ECEC Working Group aims to develop high quality early education and care services across Europe. 

The Working Group met again in Brussels in March. The two-day meeting was organised by the European Commission and focused on the topics of staff professionalisation and social inclusion. The second day of the meeting included a thematic session on inclusion. During this session, the Agency presented the Inclusive Early Childhood Education (IECE) project and its main outcomes, namely the Ecosystem Model, the Self-Reflection Tool and the Policy Recommendations. The country representatives in the session discussed how their work can build upon the recommendations of the project as well as the potential use of the self-reflection tool at national level. 

Follow the activity of the ET 2020 Working Groups on the European Commission’s Education and Training website.

Financing Policies for Inclusive Education Systems Seminar in Iceland

In early April, the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture organised a one-day seminar, with the Agency’s support. The aim of the seminar was to work on the recommendation to review and develop Iceland’s resource allocation and financing systems, which came out of the Agency’s 2017 Audit of the Inclusive Education System in Iceland. 

Seminar participants included directors and key staff from schools in four municipalities, along with representatives from the Association of Municipalities, the Home and School Association, the Teachers Union, the Equalisation Fund and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.

Financing Policies for Inclusive Education Systems (FPIES) Logo
Agency representatives introduced the Financing Policies for Inclusive Education Systems (FPIES) project, and particularly the project’s Policy Guidance Framework and Self-Review Tool. Participants then used the Self-Review Tool to review their policies, before discussing the next steps.

The day ended with a discussion about the possibility of these municipalities taking part in a pilot project, collecting information to assist in implementing the audit recommendation to review resource allocation. The ultimate aim is to make the financing of inclusive education in Iceland more effective, efficient and equitable, in order to support the provision of high-quality inclusive education for all learners.

UNESCO International Forum on Inclusion and Equity in Education

In co-operation with the Ministry of Education of Colombia, UNESCO is organising an International Forum on Inclusion and Equity in Education from 11–13 September 2019 in Cali, Colombia.

With the theme of ‘Every learner matters’, the Forum will take place on the 25th anniversary of the World Conference on Special Needs Education, organised by UNESCO and the Ministry of Education and Science of Spain in Salamanca, Spain. The Salamanca Statement set the fundamental principle of inclusion in education: ‘All children should learn together, wherever possible, regardless of any difficulties or differences they may have. Inclusive schools must recognize and respond to the diverse needs of their students’.

The Forum will provide a platform for debate and a place to share innovative policies, programmes and practices in inclusive education and review the progress made in policy and practice since the Salamanca Conference. At the end of the Conference, the Cali Statement will be adopted, to ensure continued dialogue and co-operation and renew the commitment to inclusive education among stakeholders.

Sessions planned for the Forum include discussions about why inclusion matters and an exploration of progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4. There will also be workshops and panel discussions around the Forum’s four sub-themes:

  • Developing and adopting legislation and policy frameworks that lay the foundations for inclusion and equity in education
  • Fostering co-operation and engaging multi-sectoral partnerships to ensure inclusion and equity in education
  • Providing high quality educational/institutional support to respond to and value learners’ diversity
  • Cultivating approaches for friendly inclusive learning environments for all learners.

Participants in the Forum will include representatives from ministries of education and other ministries, education practitioners and educators, researchers and experts, development partners, representatives of youth organisations, NGOs and civil society organisations from around the world. If you are interested in participating, complete the online form by 30 June 2019.

For further details, visit UNESCO’s Forum webpage.

Three children looking into the camera.
Three children looking into the camera. (c) World Bank/Curt Carnemark

New Agency Materials

Policy Guidance Framework Cover Image
Financing Policy Self-Review Tool Cover Image.

Financing Policies for Inclusive Education Systems (FPIES)

Policy Guidance Framework and Financing Policy Self-Review Tool 

The FPIES Policy Guidance Framework focuses upon the what and why of financing inclusive education systems that apply across all member country situations. The how and when of funding are issues that must be identified, discussed and considered within specific country contexts. 

The Financing Policy Self-Review Tool is part of the FPIES Policy Guidance Framework and is available in all Agency languages.

This is a self-review tool that can be used to explore policy questions in relation to financing inclusive education systems. The tool is designed to be used by policy-makers responsible for developing and implementing policies for inclusive education at national, regional and/or local levels. 

The document is open-source and can be adapted and developed to meet specific country or local situations as needed, provided a reference to the original source is given. It is available for download as a Word file in the official Agency languages.  

The Policy Guidance Framework web area presents a series of additional project outcomes, alongside the Financing Policy Self-Review Tool. 

Project Conceptual Framework

This Conceptual Framework outlines the theoretical basis for the FPIES project. 

Final Summary Report 

This brief report provides an overview of the FPIES project. It is available in all Agency languages. 

Further FPIES project outputs  

More FPIES project outputs are on the project web area

They include a Final Evaluation report prepared by the external project evaluators.

European Agency Statistics on Inclusive Education (EASIE) Logo.

European Agency Statistics on Inclusive Education

2018 EASIE Dataset Available Online 

The European Agency Statistics on Inclusive Education (EASIE) data tables and country background information for the 2016/2017 school year (EASIE 2018) are now available on the Agency’s data web area. This is the third EASIE dataset to be published on the Agency website. 

For over 20 years, data collection has been an integral part of the Agency’s work with and for its member countries. The data collection work has changed significantly over time. Initially, it focused upon learners with special educational needs (SEN), but its scope is now much broader, considering all learners within inclusive education systems. The EASIE work aims to provide comparative and aggregated individual country data that informs country-level work on learners’ rights issues and informs debates on equity and participation in inclusive education. In order to make country data comparable, the Agency team and data experts identified and agreed on operational definitions for an official decision of SEN and for an inclusive setting.  

For the first time, the EASIE 2018 data collection includes the typical pre-school (ISCED level 02) age range population and the upper-secondary (ISCED level 3) age range population, alongside the usual primary and lower-secondary level data. 

For further information, read the EASIE Methodology Report and explore the country data tables and background information. The Cross-Country Report for the 2018 dataset is due to be published at the end of 2019. 

Key Messages and Findings (2014 / 2016) 

The translations of the EASIE Key Messages and Findings (2014 / 2016) are now available online.

This report provides an overarching ‘interpretation’ of the first two EASIE datasets and Cross-Country Reports: 2014 and 2016. It presents key messages emerging from the EASIE work and the main findings in relation to five equity issues.

The European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education is committed to creating and disseminating Agency information which is accessible for all users. We are unable to guarantee the same level of accessibility of externally produced materials and websites referred to.

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