European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education meeting on inclusive education


The European social partners in education, ETUCE representing teachers in Europe and EFEE, the federation of education employers, held their General Education Working Group meeting on 15 March 2023. The delegates debated about inclusive education and committed to the revision of the multi-sectoral guidelines on third-party violence to which ETUCE and EFEE are signatories.

ETUCE members Harald Skulberg (UEN, Norway) and John MacGabhann (TUI, Ireland), highlighted the importance of appropriate inclusion and diversity strategies in schools and other education institutions to ensure quality education for increasingly diverse student audiences.  Inclusive classrooms have become more important for education institutions, not at least against the backdrop of the 2030 Agenda’s principle of ‘leaving-no-one-behind’ (SDG 4 – Education). Education trade unions demand increasing public funding to ensure a balanced teacher-to-student ratio as well as initial training and continuous professional development free of charge and within working hours to help teachers gain the necessary skills.

EFEE members presented two different practices for inclusion and diversity established in schools. Fergal McCarthy (EFEE Vice-President, ACCS, Ireland) introduced a programme for pupils with learning difficulties, while Orsolya Heuer (MRK, Hungary) presented  a successful method for the inclusion of socio-economically disadvantaged students. The ESSDE working group  also discussed the research findings presented by the expert Jane Pillinger (visiting fellow at the School of Social Sciences & Global Studies, Open University, UK) on the cross-sectoral implementation of the “Multisectoral Guidelines on third party violence and harassment at work, which were signed by ETUCE and EFEE in 2010, together with the European employer organisations and trade unions representing the sectors of local and regional governments, hospitals,  commerce, and security industry, and central government administration as well as the telecommunications and urban public transport sectors that in the meantime joined a recent follow-up project on this issue. The committee decided to mandate the ETUCE and EFEE Secretariats to join the revision process of these guidelines.

Anusca Ferrari, Policy Officer, DG EAC, European Commission, updated the working group members on the  Digital Education Action Plan, in particular the upcoming twin Council Recommendations on improving digital skills in education and enabling factors for digital education, the Digital Education Hub, and the new Stakeholder Consultation Group on “Policy options for digital education content in the EU” officially launched in 2022. ETUCE delegates stressed the importance of ensuring that the deployment of digital tools is carried out to enhance the pedagogical dimension of the teaching profession, thus avoiding the risk of having a negative effect on teachers’ working conditions, which is a key factor in retaining workers in the profession and make it more attractive to future candidates.