On 19 November, members of EFEE and ETUCE gathered in Brussels for the plenary meeting of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education (ESSDE). In total 26 EFEE members participated from: HU, UK, FI, IE, SI, PT, NO, IT, SE, BE, ME, EL, HR, CY, and NL. The meeting was chaired by Michael Moriarty (IE), President of EFEE. The meeting focused on the evaluation of the ESSDE and improving the implementation of joint outcomes, defining new priorities for 2019, improving the attractiveness of VET, and making the teaching profession more attractive.
During the first session, participants were updated on the achievements so far in the framework of the joint EFEE and ETUCE Work Programme for 2018-2019. Furthermore it was discussed which themes should be dealt with the upcoming year. EFEE advocated for an enhanced focus on: innovative practices in teaching and learning; promoting flexible learning pathways that respond to the different needs, abilities and capacities of the diverse group of learners; school leadership; gender equality in education; and making the teaching profession more attractive. Subsequently the participants received an update by the Secretariats of EFEE and ETUCE on current and future projects. They received information on the progress of the projects on: EFEE and ETUCE Project on “Promoting an effective integration of migrants and refugees in education: a key task for social partners” (2018-2019); EFEE, ETUCE, ESHA and OBESSU Project on “EU CONVINCE – EU COmmoN Values INClusive Education” (2018-2019); EFEE, ETUCE and EU-OSHA Project to develop Online interactive Risk Assessment (OiRA) tool for the education sector (2018-2019); and the MBO Raad, EFEE and ETUCE Project Lifelong Learning for All: Social Partners in Education promoting quality and inclusive VET to enhance lifelong learning for all (awaiting for decision of the EC on the grant). Furthermore, after the joint EFEE and ETUCE presentation on the outcomes of the capacity building projects for the ESSDE, the participants discussed the proposed Joint Declaration towards a Framework of Actions on the attractiveness of the teaching profession, being the result of the capacity building III project. After an extensive discussion on the wording, the plenary officially approved the Declaration.
Subsequently, the participants were informed by representatives of the European Commission on recent European developments in the field of Vocational Education and Training (VET). Ms Ann Vanden Bulcke from DG EMPL (Unit E3 VET, Apprenticeships and Adult Learning) presented the outcomes of the ET2020 Working Group on VET focusing on Teachers & Trainers “How to support them in high-performance apprenticeships and work-based learning?”. Furthermore, Joao Santos, deputy head of unit DG EMPL (Unit E3 VET, Apprenticeships and Adult Learning) informed the participants the recently launched European Commission initiative new initiative to establishment of centres of vocational excellence (part of the European Education Area 2025). After this information session, members of EFEE and ETUCE shared national examples on how social partners can contribute to making quality VET a reality in the EU. EFEE’s member from Portugal, Rodrigo Queiroz e Melo (CNEF) made a joint presentation with his colleague from the Portuguese trade union (FNE) on how their organisations reached for the very first time a collective agreement for the VET sector in Portugal. They underlined that this agreement is an important instrument of recognition of VET as a “normal” path within the education system. It provides the same dignity for students and same rights for educators (teaching and non-teaching staff) as all other educational paths in Portugal.
After the lunch break, the meeting continued with a keynote speech from Thomas Pritzkow (DG EAC) on “Achieving attractive and sustainable careers in school education: which policies can support recruitment, retention and development in the teaching profession? In his presentation his touched upon among others the outcomes of the ET2020 Working Group of schools and the EU publication “Boosting teacher quality: pathways to effective policies (2018)”. Consequently, members of EFEE and ETUCE shared good practices on how social dialogue can contribute to enhancing the professional profile of teachers, trainers and school leaders, by improving the quality and effectiveness of initial education, early career support and focus on continuous professional learning and development to make the teaching profession more attractive. From EFEE’s side Marianne Lindheim (KS) from Norway made a joint contribution with her colleague from the trade unions on how one promotes cooperation between teacher training institutions, schools and local authorities in order to better prepare teachers for specific needs of the diverse group of learners. Furthermore Theodoros Theodorou (MoEC) from Cyprus shared the recent initiative to include a professional learning plan for teachers in the overall school improvement plan. Vesna Gajevic (MoE) from Montenegro presented the establishment of a fund for quality in education awarding excellent students, teachers and schools. Last, Luigi Sepiacci (ANINSEI) from Italy presented the development of training courses specifically focused at attracting more teachers to the profession.
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