On 24 June, members of EFEE and ETUCE gathered in Brussels for the working group of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education. In total 18 EFEE members participated from Ireland, Slovenia, Croatia, Norway, the Netherlands, Greece, Belgium, UK, Finland, Germany, Romania, Portugal, and Sweden. The joint meeting was kicked off with a keynote speech on “Supporting school innovation across Europe” by Kristina Larsen of the European Commission (DG EAC-B2). In her presentation she underlined that supportive and distributed school leadership is the key to successful innovation. Furthermore she stressed that a shared vision, strategy and action plan are necessary conditions for effective change. After her presentation, EFEE and ETUCE EFEE and ETUCE members shared experiences on how to promote effective and shared leadership in order to establish a climate of change in education institutions. EFEE’s member from Norway, Marianne Lindheim (KS), delivered a joint presentation with her colleague from the teacher trade union on how they created a climate for innovation via social dialogue in order to enable changes at local level. From the first beginning of the development process for a curriculum renewal, KS and the teacher trade union involved the social partners at local and regional level by organising co-creation seminars at these levels. This led to a shared enthusiasm and strong commitment at all levels for the proposed changes in the curriculum. Furthermore from EFEE’s side, Joan Russell (ETBI) shared her good practice from Ireland on the instructional leadership programme focused at developing via a bottom-up approach the leadership potential of all teachers, by among others supporting teachers in change management, and developing the pedagogical and leadership skills of teachers.

Subsequently the meeting moved from the topic of ‘innovation’ to ‘digitalisation and the implementation of the Digital Education Action Plan’. For this theme, Dr. Frederik Cornillie from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven had been invited to make a presentation on the impact of learning analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) on teaching and learning. Furthermore, Tim Tregenza from EU-OSHA shed light on the negative use of digital tools in education in his presentation on the risks of cyber-harassment in education. He called upon employers of education institutions to consider the potential for cyber bullying in risk assessments.

After lunch, the working group focused on ‘schools for inclusion’. For this topic an updated was provided on the ET2020 Working Group on Citizenship, promoting common values and inclusive education by Anja Janum of the European Commission (EAC-A1). She explained that the ET2020 Working Group identified two main focus areas for future work: European History and the multiperspectivity in history & Gender equality (underperformance of boys). Furthermore, EFEE and ETUCE members shared good practices initiatives that aim to contribute to making inclusive education a reality. From EFEE’s side, Panagiotis Karamalis (Hellenic Association of Independent Schools) made a contribution showcasing the actions his organisation have taken to facilitate the integration of migrants and immigrants in schools, including language classes for Greek as second language, automatic digital translators for teachers, teacher training on cultural differences, and stimulating new students to participate in joint projects. Last, all participants discussed the draft Statement on Inclusive Schools from the EU-CONVINCE project partners (among which EFEE and ETUCE). It was stressed that the document focused particularly on the multi-cultural aspects of inclusive education, not much on pupils with special needs, although in many EU countries this would be understood as ‘inclusion in education’. Furthermore it was concluded that not much attention was paid to the role and position of social partners in education, therefore it was suggested that the Secretariats of EFEE and ETUCE would prepare a draft ESSDE statement on this topic to underline the important role social partners in education play in making inclusive education a reality. This draft will be further discussed during the ESSDE Plenary meeting, which will take place in Brussels on 2nd of December.

For more information, please contact: sarah.kik@educationemployers.eu