Europe’s learners and education personnel are becoming more diverse. The project “Education Trade Unions and Inclusive Schools: Embracing Diversity in Education” is building capacity so that education trade unions can prepare their members to address the many forms of diversity they encounter in the classroom and in society: socioeconomic, cultural, linguistic and more. ETUCE and member organisations aim to support education personnel in creating inclusive learning environments where every student and teacher can achieve their full potential.

Advisory Group

  • Manos Androulakis DOE Greece
  • Alison Gilliland INTO Ireland
  • Conceiçao Nunes SINDEP Portugal
  • Alexandra Cornea FSLI Romania
  • Lyhykäinen Päivi OAJ Finland
  • Dubravko Tomasović IURHEEC Croatia


This project is funded with support from the European Commission.

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Frauke Gützkow, GEW Executive Board member for women's and LGBTIQ* policy

"As an education union, we stand for an open society and a pedagogy of diversity that also addresses sexual and gender diversity at its core. This is how stereotypes can be eradicated and discrimination can be ended – not only with a view the International Day against Homophobia, Bi-, Inter- and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) on 17 May 2021."


Axel Stumpf, Teacher for English and German at a grammar school, LGBTIQ* equality activist in GEW, Chemnitz, Saxony, Germany

"Keep on doing, showing that we are not alone. Be aware there are forces who want to roll back, not only in Europe. Show solidarity. Young people have the right to know about."


Boris Pichotka, Teacher of English, Holyrood Secondary School, Glasgow

"Senior Leaders tend to be willing but can be hard to pin down for chats about LGBT+ inclusive teaching, especially in times of COVID. Perseverance is the key...and coming with a sales pitch. Make the positive case. Show them that it’s good for pupils and the school’s image. Help them understand that LGBT+ inclusive teaching:

a) does not come at the expense of other existing equality drives but supplements those, and

b) is not that hard to implement - there are more and more resources available.

As for what teachers need: confidence! Trust your own convictions and don’t let the long shadow cast by Section 28 put you off helping your kids."


David Dick, Nursery Teacher, Excellence and Equity Lead, Cathkin Community Nursery, Glasgow

"Having implemented inclusive LGBT+ education in early years settings, I can confirm that parents, practitioners and children are receptive and welcoming towards it.  Training is key, allowing practitioners and parents space to discuss issues and raise questions.  It is important to highlight the inequalities of the education system which means our institutions have an unspoken yet deeply influential heteronormative bias.  Thus LGBT+ inclusive education can be seen as a progressive, much needed corrective towards only heterosexuality and binary gender being the privileged standards against which both children and parents' non-conformity will be punished, shamed or excluded.  Teachers need support, training and resources to understand the complexities of the issues involved and also for them to be able to analyse the way their interactions can uphold "norms" unconsciously."


Peter Taylor, NASUWT Teachers Union activist and member of the NASUWT LGBTI Advisory Committee and TUC LGBT+ Committee, UK

"As an openly out gay man, I believed that because teaching in an International School, which prided itself on teaching English values surrounding equality, it was extremely important to give the students the English perspective on LGBTI issues. There were several hundred students from Eastern European countries, including the Russian Federation, plus a similar number from certain African countries, all of which have extremely negative views on anything connected with the LGBTI rainbow. With the help of the head of the Personal and Social Care curriculum, I eventually persuaded the Principal to allow a guest speaker to talk about religious-based homophobia. At each session, we gave the students full permission that if they felt uncomfortable listening to the talks because they went against their religious teachings or their personal morals, they could politely leave the auditorium without being punished. Out of around 200 students from across the year groups from Yr. 8 to Yr. 13, only five students walked out. One of those returned before the talk finished and when I asked why he returned he said that he felt that he should hear an alternative view. At the end of each session the students gave the speaker very genuine and prolonged applause and their feedback afterwards was overwhelmingly positive. One Nigerian student stated that he now had information in which he could challenge homophobia in his home church, while a Russian Federation student said that he now understood that the rampant homophobia displayed in his hometown was totally unjustified and he felt ashamed that he had been drawn into that way of thinking."

Annelies Taylor, Member of NASUWT Teachers Union, UK

Lara Morris, Member of NASUWT Teachers Union, UK


Kisufit Kablan, Kindergarten principal, lecturer in Kindergarten Seminar, ITU, Israel

"I am Kisufit, I'm a mother of five, and another thirty - five. I suffer from a rhythm and dance disorder - this disorder manifests itself in a difficulty to concentrate on a contemporary task, and the taking over of the kindergarten life on my home life. In the morning when I get up, I brush my teeth and review how many bottles of shampoo were spilled on the floor in yesterday's showers in the kindergarten, and how I turn them into planters and flower pots in the kindergarten's garden.

When I hang laundry, I reflect on the rabbit's cage and tell myself to remember to buy them alfalfa again. When I go shopping for my house, I also buy flour for a baking day tomorrow at the kindergarten and some other products that the children will enjoy. In a Zumba dancing class, something I do for myself; I think of dancing with handkerchiefs and drums with the children. And when I decided to make time for myself at the beach, I collected shells for the creation hour I plan. When I went to the carpenter to order the closet, I returned with bags of woodcuts to the carpentry shop activity center. When I went to throw away the garbage, I came back with a mirror I found that would fit in the dolls' corner. I went with my own children to the neighborhood playground. I wanted to be an investing mom, and I found myself at a parent-teacher meeting on the garden's bench, explaining gross motor skills.

And at night when I went to bed, I remembered that I wanted to recommend occupational therapy to Ariel, and I should talk to his mother tomorrow ... lest it be late. I write, arrange, teach, print, take pictures, program, manage, advise, hold, bake, hang, cut, paste, promote, recommend and think.

But most of all - I love."

 Ahlas Kashua

Ahlas Kashua, Art. Empowerment and Life skills teacher, Elementary school 6, Tira, ITU, Israel

"When the pandemic broke out, we understood that the plans we made for 2020 - 2021 must undergo a dramatic change. Suddenly, new ideas of closure, isolation, social distance, daily reporting on critically ill patients and a growing number of deaths fell upon us. My first feelings were of deep fear for family and friends, anxiety about the disease and even, sometimes to the point of fear of death. But I believe I was able to recover quickly. Thanks to the lessons I learned in my life, to my academic studies, including B.Ed. In Education, Teaching Certificate and Master's Degree, M.Ed. In the evaluation and planning of teaching, to the professional training I went through and my professional experience, I could quickly plan my steps and organize in the face of this new situation, and find good solutions to the new problems that arose.

If you ask those close to me, they will tell you that I am a teacher, entrepreneur, and manager by nature, and have the ability to contribute for organizations and individuals in the public and community life in my city. When I am asked about the way I deal with the two overlapping tasks, on the one hand an entrepreneur, educator and manager and on the other hand a wife and mother of 4 children, I happily answer that I can define the situation in one word, "excellent". Thanks to all that I have mentioned above, I am able to maneuver and devote the right and proper time to both family life and career. I find it of paramount importance to initiate, especially in these difficult days, new actions for the community, for the families in the city, for the children and especially for the women. At the same time, I feel a great responsibility for the proper health of all members of my household, adults and children alike.

I was once asked about my feelings on the occasion of Women's Day and my answer was simple – for me every day is a Woman's Day. Women work vigorously and powerfully in public careers, in the business world, in entrepreneurship, in management and in society. I am very proud of the fact that I am a woman, that I am a wife and a mother. Women in my city in particular and in Israel in general, excel in impressive abilities. Women are integrated into the banking management system, politics, industry, commerce, high-tech, development. Women are prominent in the growth engines of the state and global economy. Women stand out in community leadership and global leadership. This fact fills me with joy, pride and motivation to do more. I believe that in the near future I will be able to integrate and work vigorously for the community, for families and for the city, in broad and influential frameworks. I will be able to initiate and implement far-reaching plans, innovative community projects, and overcome all obstacles and objections. I am very proud to be a woman. Always a woman."


Esti Tenebaum, Kindergarten teacher, Head of Arts center, Kiryat Ata, ITU, Israel

"A few years ago, I came across a nice piece written about women's abilities - I very much identified with its words so I will quote its essence: "On the day God created the woman, an angel appeared and asked him - why are you investing so much in this creation? God answered - did you see the specifications I planned for it? It consists of 200 parts that can function on diet cola and a pinch of food only, has an arm that can hold 4 children at the same time, has a kiss that can heal from a bruised knee to a broken heart, and all this it can do with only two hands ... The angel touched the woman and said - but you made her so soft. True, God agreed, but she's tough too. You have no idea what she is capable of, and what difficulties she is facing. There are women of all sizes, in all colors and in all sectors, but they all have infinite strength and power, they suffer many difficulties, but are able to feel love and happiness. "

As a teacher and as a woman, we have been celebrating for years the International Women's Day on March 8, but this year our female abilities have been doing wonders. At the end of this hallucinatory year, we may say that it produced a significant difference in the way we work, endless creativity, mental strength, dealing with unreasonable situations of inclusion and daily functioning, of work and personal care to our small home and all that it entails, to our beloved children, to our spouse and life partner. And of course, to 35 more soft and precious children to whom we are so attached and committed to promote, teach, strengthen and appreciate them, all without a human touch but through cold and distant squares. So, women, kindergarten teachers, educators, we have a lot of wonderful abilities that can be discovered every day ... there is no one like us and there will not be.

And if a woman has a small flaw, it's just the fact that she's forgotten how much she's really worth."

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Michelle Codrington-Rogers, Secondary school teacher and National President - NASUWT Teachers Union, UK

"As a Black woman teacher and activist, visibility is crucial not just for my students, but also for the movement. Black Lives Matters was started by Black women and its usually us who carry the burden of driving for equality. Children need to see themselves reflected so they are inspired to become lawyers, doctors or even teachers. But across Europe people of African and Asian descent are under-represented in education as teachers and lecturers and we must ask ourselves why.

Black women don’t get to choose to be feminist or anti-racist, we find our own voices and make sure we use it demand equality and fairness. We often have to push ourselves into spaces where we are the only person of colour, but we do this because if we don’t, who will?

I wear many hats as a woman, trade unionist who is also a parent, daughter, and sister. As a teacher I carry the weight of being more than an educator, I carry the expectations of a community."

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Monika Ćwiklińska, mathematics and IT teacher and spokesperson - NSZZ "Solidarność"

" A modern female teacher can be called an "invisible superhero" because she is a person who faces numerous challenges. She works under stress, dedicates herself, her work is constantly assessed by children, parents and superiors. She transfers her commitment and emotions to her home space, where she is often a wife and mother. Reconciling many overlapping roles is very arduous.

The most difficult changes in professional life are changes - those that do not benefit children and their education, and are the implementation of imaginary, unrealistic ideas of officials. They require the production of a very large number of documents and take up time that should be devoted to work for the student. This is very frustrating and leads to burnout over time. Recruitment, training, remuneration, career advancement, ensured safety, and good conditions for work – the battle for promoting the teaching profession for women must be taken on many fronts. Measures are being taken gradually and there is a future for female teachers."

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Patrizia Donato, Kindergarten teacher - FLC CGIL, Italy

"We have many challenges. I have a job, I am a woman, I am married with children and I am from the South of Italy. It is incontrovertible that the female component in teaching is preponderant and one of the reasons is historically traceable to the fact that the times and modes of work of the teacher of thirty years ago were compatible with the tasks carried out by women within the family life. Today, in the school of autonomy, not only the workload has increased exponentially but also the time spent at school can no longer be compared with those of the past. In light of these considerations, mainly women are paying the price, today as in the past, for the constant search for a difficult balance between career and family. This is especially true for working women in the south of Italy, who carry the weight of a cultural heritage difficult to overcome because of small, unwritten rules that have been internalised and handed down from generation to generation. Over the decades, this has turned into a very strong sense of guilt that they tend to atone for by shouldering the entire burden of the family and its needs.

I am a teacher and we teachers try to improve the lives of entire generations. We take in children as young as three years old, begin by consoling them for their first detachment from parental figures, and then return them to society as adults. There is nothing further from the bureaucracy of the teaching profession. Everything indeed has been done in recent years to turn us into bureaucrats and paper pushers. They have exhausted us by pointing fingers, creating furrows, divisions, pretending to know how to evaluate ability, actually without solving the real, long-standing problems of the Italian school."

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Marcella Bonzagni, secondary school teacher - FLC CGIL, Italy

"The massive entry of women into first and second level education exploded in the 1970s, also as a form of revolt against the roles assigned by ‘destiny’ as wives and mothers. The presumed ‘choices or vocations’ are often forced paths that orient women towards professions such as teaching. It is depressing to note the prejudice - often augmented by poor rhetoric about lazy state employees - that accredits teaching work as a sort of privileged part-time job with a full salary. The considerable commitment connected to the teaching function (correction of papers, preparation of materials, in-depth studies, tests, updating, support for students, etc.), now further burdened by the Distance Learning, is not perceived as such because it is variable in size, not subject to a fixed timetable and can be placed at different times of the day, even in the evening or at night. Teachers are required to be able to multitask because the teacher is required not only to teach the various subjects but is also called upon to be an all-round educator, a guide capable of preparing future citizens to respect community life, other people, rules, and institutions. The teacher must also have patience, from beginning to end, to deal with apprenticeships and competitions, for the years of precariousness, to deal with parents and to grow minds in training, like a parent.

The individual dimension of teaching and the loneliness in the effort to reconcile numerous and different functions, to devise solutions for the most diverse problems in the absence of an adequate support structure are emerging more and more; loneliness in facing an increasingly complex reality and in the awareness of the gap between the highest individual possibilities and the cultural and economic crumbling of the school institution. Nevertheless, the teachers proceed with good courage, never backing down."

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Marinella Esposito, Primary school teacher, - FLC CGIL, Italy
"Now, more than ever, during the pandemic, the challenge I have to face every day is to get across the idea that teaching is not a 'neutral' action but is a complex profession, like all relational work. We navigate in the complexity, in the mutability of the existing, in the encounter/clash with the children and with their terrible and at the same time extraordinary stories. Being aware of this and being aware of it as a woman gives me a strength that allows me to appreciate all the gratifications but also to feel the responsibility of this work. The teacher, and therefore me as a teacher, is a knowledge professional like a lawyer, a doctor, who, after long studies, is given responsibility and autonomy for what concerns the profession. I have to be able to use all my knowledge and experience to solve the problems and contingencies I encounter in my human and educational relationship with my pupils/students. I have to analyse complex conditions, negotiate, evaluate pros and cons and finally make choices that are adequate, targeted, meaningful... I have to incessantly analyse myself, my knowledge, my know-how, I have to critically analyse my actions and the effects they have... finally, today more than ever, I have to learn to produce, with an unbelievable and asphyxiating speed, didactic and educational innovations. And so I, a teacher, with my burden of responsibility, amplified by this cursed pandemic, with my National Collective Agreement that has been at a standstill for years, with my daily struggles to reconcile the care of children, family and elderly parents to whom I owe what I am, I say that there is still a long way to go, that it will not be easy, that nothing will be taken for granted but that certainly, as a woman and not always alone, I will make it."

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Ciro Indellicati, Secondary school teacher - FLC CGIL, Italy

"Brave, intelligent, curious, stubborn, sensitive, patient, independent, tireless [women-teachers]... yet there are - in school and outside - those who do not see them, those who do not want to see them, those who despise them, those who are afraid of them. Sometimes it is true, it is harder to make oneself understood and to understand them. Often invisible, yes, but always present. Try, try to do without them. Try, try to imagine a day at school without them."

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Natalia Tymchyk, Teacher of Ukrainian language and literature, Ukraine

"Superhero… In some sense, it’s true: teach, show, explain, persuade, help, wipe away tears... you have to do all that despite hyperactivity, aggression and permissiveness that children bring to school every day. The first thing you need in order not to leave school on the first working year, is to love children, secondly – to have incredible patience, and thirdly – to be stress resistant. And fourth thing is to have an ability to find a path to child's soul. If you have this skill - you are an absolute superhero. To be a teacher is my conscious choice. I do not regret a minute. And when I get a good result of cooperation with children, I become convinced that I have chosen the right way. And the highest recognition for me is the child’s "thank you" after many years after graduation."

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Enkelejda Bilbili, English Teacher, Member of the Executive Committee of SPASH

"In and outside the classroom, women carry out the roles of nurturers and mothers. They are heroes because a female teacher carries three roles wrapped in one; a mother figure, a nurturer (especially for primary and high school teachers) and an educator. 

According to CEIC data 85% of primary teachers in Albania were female in 2019. Given that the majority of the teachers have been female since the first school opened, there have been thorough regulations on gender discrimination and salary discrimination. Hence, I would say we do not face these problems in our country. The major problems we face here are mostly social ones. I have witnessed teachers, particularly female, being appointed without merit or necessary qualifications. However, I do feel supported because I see awareness has increased when it comes to injustice."

Khazar Lotfi

Khazar Lotfi, English Teacher, The Netherlands

Are there any obstacles that you face/have faced in your everyday work as a teacher linked to your migrant background?

As a teacher in a majority-minority city who teaches students from different ethnic backgrounds I don’t feel like I have faced any obstacles in the classroom, if anything it might actually help me to understand some of the difficulties and struggles my students face in this society better.

In your opinion, what support do teachers with migrant background need?

I think that it’s very important to be able to do our jobs in an inclusive environment. While most of our students have different ethnic backgrounds this is not the case for our colleagues. Support would be best given by the schoolboard by raising awareness and taking a stand when it comes down to issues like racism and discrimination.

In your experience, what key support do teachers working with students with migrant and refugee background need in their everyday work?

Universities and colleges that educate teachers or are supposed to do so have to pay more attention to this. Momentarily, diversity and inclusion are themes that are merely mentioned and briefly touched upon whereas teachers need to learn how to communicate and connect with different students and with students that are different from them. This applies to everyone, including teachers (in training) with a migrant background. 

Mary Osei Oppong Scotland

Mary Osei-Oppong, migrated from Ghana to Scotland, author of "For The Love Of Teaching; The Anti-Racist Battlefield in Education”, EIS member, Scotland

I experienced many forms of racism during my career, over two decades. The most telling of all without a doubt is institutionalised racism and microaggression which could be used to invalidate the ability of someone from a Black background, and in my opinion, the most damaging one. 

The insidious microaggression forms of racism I encountered and suffered from, were the everyday insults, digs, belittlement, indignities and also demeaning comments. 

It has never been acceptable for people to say they are not racist and have black friends, when their actions cause racial harm. I urge all of us regardless of race, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or socio-economic class, to work together towards equal opportunity for all in society. 

Racism is a global human rights issue and is not merely a perception and hopefully the opportunity is not lost. A lot of serious thinking and difficult conversations must take place to resolve the institutionalised racism, otherwise, the next generation of Black Minority Ethnic children would be confronted by the same problem and society would be at a loss. 

The problem in the workplace is, most people, if not all, are protecting their job and turn a blind eye to injustices, afraid of being punished or worse - lose their job, and by doing so makes them complicit.  

My book "For The Love of Teaching; The Anti-Racist Battlefield in Education" gives help and advice on building resilience, inspiration, determination, commitment and my overall experiences would resonate with colleagues and would be a great benefit to all readers.

Maija Yli-Jokipii, University Teacher, University of Tampere, Finland

Marika Koff, Mother tongue Teacher, Espoo and Kauniainen, Finland

Samran Khezri, Native language teacher, Turku normaalikoulu school, Finland

Check testimonies from Finish teachers and teacher trainers about the valuable assets of having teachers with an immigrant backgrdound in a video „Diverse students, diverse teachers” prepared by the University of Turku’s Teacher Education Department in the framework of their project Dived. The project is the first of its kind in Finland focusing on teacher education and involving universities which have been involved in teaching students with an immigrant backround. The project also includes in-service training for teacher and numerous good practices and resources for teachers based on the research. Education Trade Union OAJ has also been part of the project.  


Natalija Veselič Martinjak Slovenia

Natalija Veselič Martinjak, Art teacher in primary education, Slovenia

When working with migrant children you as a teacher – and at first as a person – definitely need to be enthusiastic, kind, have the ability to listen actively and to fully accept diversity without any prejudices. A smile, empathy, communicating with friendly pantomime and drawings, maybe with help of some simple words in different languages are also essential. The very best thing you can give to these children is the feeling of being accepted and safe. To be able to do all this you as a teacher need empathy, encouragement, support and confidence from a school leadership. A high level of professional autonomy is the key element, besides that you need all the technical support in different teaching materials and continuous professional training. Me as a teacher working with migrant children would surely welcome some kind of platform where teachers could share our experience and good practices and at first support each other. Without any prejudices and criticism. 

 Sandra Mihalič Slovenia

Sandra Mihalič, primary school teacher, Slovenia

For many years now through every school year our school welcomes at least ten migrant children, mainly from different European countries. As they come from very diverse family and educational backgrounds each student needs an individual approach. As a teacher of Slovenian language for foreign pupils I sure need a lot of teaching materials to ease them learning of new words. I also help migrant children to integrate to the new environment and as me and my colleagues miss that  a Slovene language course for immigrant students doesn’t also include the possibility of learning the language for students’ siblings and parents too. This option would sure reduce some stress migrant children are facing entering new school system.

 Darinka Dekleva Slovenia

Darinka Dekleva, social worker in primary education, Slovenia

As a social worker in a school counsellor team, I’m the first person in school who gets in touch with migrant children and their parents. In this role – providing the optimal conditions for learning and integration for each individual immigrant child – I miss the relevant data about their former educational path and the knowledge they gained so far. When we welcome a new migrant child, I’m frightened (and full of hope at the same time) that our national curriculum won’t cause him to much troubles. Level of my empathy with immigrant children and their families gets even more intense as I am a mother of three children who are looking for their professional opportunities outside Slovenia. It would be of a great help if we could have additional teachers who would mentor migrant children and teaching them Slovenian for so long they would become independent speakers. The current situation of the COVID-19 pandemics has also risen many new challenges in working with migrant children. 

 Mileta Grujić Slovenia

Mileta Grujić, composer and musician, headteacher, Slovenia

In Serbia, where I come from, I was a music teacher in a secondary school and then also a headteacher. I live in Slovenia since 2015, first I was self-employed in culture sector as I also play a piano in a band of a known Slovenian singer. I performed on over eighty concerts, also on two national celebrations. In March this year I got a temporary job as a music art teacher in primary school and after that became a headteacher of this the same school which is one of the smallest schools in Slovenia. I have always worked with a lot of people and I have never felt as a foreigner or a migrant – neither as a teacher nor as a musician. Also, now as a headteacher I feel like I’m at home. I have also made a lot of new contacts here as I – now when schools are closed due to covid-19 – deliver warm meals to our pupils. When I was still looking for a job always when my application was rejected it was because I didn’t meet the conditions needed for the position (some exams from Serbia are not valid in Slovenia). I have never noticed that it had something to do with my migrant background. In my personal opinion migrant background has not much to do with working results. What matters the most is what you are like as a person. Maybe it was easier for me as I always thought of Slovenia as a part of my country – former Yugoslavia.

 Charlotte Holm Denmark

Charlotte Holm, teacher to students with refugee and migrant background, member of DLF, Denmark

It is crucial that migrant students experience recognition in the classroom, but also in society. Teachers are ambassadors for migrant children, and politicians must act responsibly and combat the hostile rhetoric on migration and refugees in society. The negative approach affects the benefits of the learning by these students. Therefore, action is required now!

 Cagri Pekoz Cyprus

Çağrı Peköz, early childhood education teacher, Cyprus

All teachers, regardless if they are working with migrant and refugee children or not, must be equipped with necessary training and tools to guide children to develop critical consciousness. Besides academic achievement, education must contribute to the migrant and refugee children’s realities.

 Juri Haas Germany

Juri Haas, primary school teacher and leadership team member of GEW federal committee on migration, antidiscrimination and diversity, Germany

For me, inclusive school in a society of migrations means that we do our best to ensure that students and their families do not feel excluded or undervalued. School approaches causing exclusion should be questioned by all those involved in them. To be inclusive, schools need sufficient staff resources, so we can also take into account individual needs and have the necessary time to improve the school environment.

Untitled design 3Ramona ROSU, teacher in primary education, Romania

"From my point of view, teachers who work with children with disabilities need a good professional training (initial and continuous), which is fundamental in finding and understanding their needs.

The legislative framework is very important because, through it, teachers come to the right support for each child with special educational needs, knowing all the steps they have to go through.

The support of the family, support staff (school therapists, psychologists, speech therapists,..) and curricular adaptation are needed in these situations.
In fact, teachers need to adapt their entire activity to work with students with SEN, especially if they need to integrate them into mainstream education, differentiation being the common inclusive practice.

Moreover, teachers need a lot of patience, dedication and professionalism..."

Untitled design 4Lucia IONESCU, FSLI, teacher, primary education, Romania

"All children need love, encouragement, and support, and for kids with SEN, such positive reinforcement can help ensure that they emerge with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence, and the determination to keep going even when things are tough.

Maria is a 3rd grade pupil with spastic tetraparesis which means she has issuse for walking and using her hands. I met her in Preparatory Class and she was integrated with a lot of love by her 36 colleagues. In searching for ways to help Maria to be integrated in kids group I knew I have to help her integrate by herself.

I know that as a teacher, I am a model for my pupils and the way I respond to challenges has a big impact in the group. The lesson I learned is even though a teacher’ s good attitude will not solve the problems associated with disabilities, it can give  the child with SEN hope and confidence."

Untitled design 1Filomena Lopes – Multidisciplinary Team for Inclusive Education Coordinator with direct intervention with students from the lower and upper secondary, Portugal

"As a teacher for special education needs and also, as a multidisciplinary team for Inclusion Education coordinator, one of the most important things I’d like to emphasize is the positive experiences and emotions that I’ve been living with students with special needs. The foundations for an inclusive education lie exactly in the significant affective bonds with the students.

The model we have, now in Portugal, based in a multidisciplinary intervention with the participation of all the actors [teachers, school direction, teachers for special education, students and parents]  is contributing to the real success of the students, because this model eliminates all the barriers to the learning process;

It’s urgent that the teachers assume this new Decree-Law on Inclusive Education to work for the success of their students, focusing their strategies not in the difficulties/challenges, not on what they cannot achieve but focusing on the opportunities, on the students’ potentials, turning the weaknesses into strengths, promoting the development of social healthy relationships, boosting the autonomy skills and the resilience capacities."

Untitled designCarla Freire – Teacher for Special Education [SE] with direct intervention with students from the lower and upper secondary, Portugal

What support do teachers for SE need in their everyday work?

"More communication at school: among teachers; between the form teacher and the teacher for SE; between the teacher for SE and families. There is a general lack of dialogue either because people don’t communicate effectively or because of too many misunderstandings in communication, mostly due to prejudices and stereotypes.

More time at school: teachers shouldn’t always be running against time because of too many classes with too many students. They should also be relieved from the so many bureaucratic tasks that don’t leave them time for planning and teaching. We need productive time to meet each other to define the right plans for these students.

Teachers need CPD to get some more knowledge, and information to meet the right educational strategies for the students.

Teachers for SE should also be released from so many responsibilities and burden they have. Either at school or in the privacy of their homeplaces they are teachers, nurses, psychologists, confidents, fathers, mothers, siblings, or friends, both for the students and their families… and it is understandable because they don’t get social support, most of the times the only support they get is actually from the school."

Untitled design 2George Mougios, 29 years old, Substitute (contract) Special Education Teacher in Primary Education for the past 7 years, Greece

“For us, special education teachers, in order to become more effective in achieving the expected pedagogical goals for the benefits of our students with special needs and abilities through our everyday intervention in school, it is very important that the state, in addition to moral support, provides us with all the necessary initial and in the job training and the up-to-date educational and technological means."

Untitled design8Maggie Greene, primary school teacher in Letterkenny Educate Together National School, living with MS, Ireland

"Everybody has the right to quality education, no matter our differences. Today on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we take action for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in education and in all aspects of society. As a primary teacher in Ireland living with a multiple sclerosis (MS), I’m proud to add my name to this important campaign. We must make sure our schools are safe spaces for teachers living and working with disabilities."