Over 40 participants from Ministries of Education, National Roma Contact Points, education policy experts, and practitioners from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and the Slovak Republic gathered in Lisbon on May 24th and 25th, 2023. The study visit focused on the "Educational Success of Portugal: Evolution of Inclusive Education Policy and Practice."
The event was organized within the framework of the European Union and Council of Europe Joint Project Inclusive Schools: Making a Difference for Roma Children (INSCHOOL), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science of Portugal and the Portuguese High Commission for Migration.
The main purpose of the event was to learn from Portugal's experience in education policy reform, pedagogic practice, and inclusivity. The study visit aimed to explore innovative solutions for children living in socially and economically marginalized circumstances. Participants had the opportunity to visit two school clusters, engage in discussions with school leaders, students, and parents, and learn about the key features of the Portuguese education system.
During the first day morning sessions, the participants were introduced to Portugal's education system structure and the legal and policy frameworks in place. They discussed specific measures available for learners in early childhood and school education, such as the Priority Intervention Educational Territories Program, Pedagogical Innovation Pilot Project and the National Programme for School Success Promotion.
The representatives of School Cluster Marinha Grande Poente showcased the school's organization, emphasizing the use of available resources within the diverse professional team and through community partnerships. School clusters have autonomy in supporting each student appropriately by implementing universal, selective, and additional measures. The organizational structure includes entities such as pedagogic council, multidisciplinary team for inclusive education (EMAEI), learning support center (CAA), student and family office (GAAF), and various councils. They maintain direct communication with external partners like health units, city councils, early intervention teams and other.
The study visit included visits to Santo António in Barreiro and Ordem de Sant'Iago in Setúbal, where participants witnessed the implementation of measures supporting inclusive education. These schools have a wealth of experience in working with diverse learners and fostering intercultural practices. The in-person visit was the highlight of the study visit as per the feedback of participants. It provided the opportunity to see the practical implementation of education measures, exchange with the school leadership and discuss in-depth about the specificities of projects, school management, pedagogic approaches, etc.
The event also featured presentations on the scope and impact of the Educational Areas of Priority Intervention Program (TEIP), which addresses education inequalities, supports learning outcomes, and strengthens school-family relations. The study visit participants engaged in fruitful exchanges, reflecting on the policies and practices observed and considering their applicability in their own national education systems.
The study visit's second part explored the evolution of Portugal's legal and policy frameworks regarding inclusive education, particularly for learners with special education needs. The country's leading expert provided a historical overview of policy evolution and reform. A dedicated session focused on Roma communities and students, highlighting targeted measures and specific programs for their inclusion in education.
Throughout the study visit, participants worked in groups, sharing feedback on policies and practices, and critically reflecting on their potential application in their respective contexts.
This was the second study visit organised within the framework of the INSCHOOL project. The first study visit was organised on 26-27 October 2022 in Strasbourg, France and focused on the “Council of Europe Standards and Tools on Quality and Inclusive Education. For more information about the first study visit, click here