Inclusive Education through the Experience of Teachers and Principals

10 December 2016
The Annual Conference of Centre for Inclusive Education united the Bulgarian and international experience in one general discussion how the inclusive education happens in practice

Centre for Inclusive Education organized its Annual International conference “Inclusive Education through the Experience of Teachers and Principals” on December 10th, 2016. The one day event was held in Hall 6 of National Palace of Culture and united 350 teachers, principals and professionals, working with children.

The conference was opened by Dian Stamatov, Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Cor Meijer, Director of European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, Maria Jesus Conde, UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria and Stanislava Staneva, Programme Officer Education and Libraries at America for Bulgaria Foundation.

Dian Stamatov and Cor Meijer announced during their speeches that as of January 2017 Bulgaria becomes member of the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education. 

The event was organized with the support of America for Bulgaria Foundation and UNICEF Bulgaria.

The process of inclusion cannot be a lonely effort of particular teachers or principals; in essence it is a cause, policy and practice of the entire school. It is necessary a wider understanding of what makes one school to become really inclusive – every child, not only those with SEN, but every professional and parent to feel well, accepted and valued in a community which understands and respects the difference. The inclusive education requires a systematic approach”, Iva Boneva, Executive Director of Centre for Inclusive Education said.

During its work with partner schools all over the country, Centre for Inclusive Education identified the need to develop a systematic approach to help mainstream school to learn organizing its resources and processes and to coordinate the efforts of each team member of the school community in such a way that it becomes inclusive. The first Bulgarian Model for organisation of school processes and building of inclusive school environment is a product of this partnership. It was developed together with five schools within One School for All Programme with the support of America for Bulgaria Foundation.

Under the new legislative framework, setting the requirements for the organisation of inclusive learning process, Centre  for Inclusive Education has chosen this year's forum to focus  on the learning of adults - teachers and directors who are in the centre of the implementation of these changes. Changing the administrative framework is not sufficient to change the practice. It is necessary to evaluate what from the daily work and approaches should be changed, how the participants in the teaching process will continue to learn - from each other, with each other, alone, on their own initiative – learning to include, learning to self-improve, learning to work together, learning every day how to improve teaching and environment at school.

The conference united the Bulgarian and International experience in one common discussion how inclusive education happens in practice. Cor Maijer and Anthoula Kefallinou from the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education presented the process of inclusion in Europe. Joao Dias, Rehabilitaition Services Director at the Portugal organisation ARCIL focused on good practices of cooperation between professionals and general school teachers in the classroom. Erin McRaith, educational specialist in the creation of strategies for professional development of teachers and pedagogue with long international experience in the work with children at risk talked about the personal and professional development of teachers.

The ensuing discussion panels traced out how inclusion happens in practice in Bulgarian schools and kindergartens. Through the prism of CIE’s Model for organisation of school processes and building of inclusive school environment:  teaching practices, school leadership, child safeguarding  and family partnership were presented best practices. The last panel was dedicated to the state standard for inclusive education, its explanation and application.

During the event, guests had the opportunity to visit exhibition of educational organisations, which presented useful materials and practices for teachers and specialists.

One School for All

One School for All is our most encompassing and wide-reaching cause, our raison d’etre. Our ultimate goal is comprehensive introduction and application of the principles of inclusive education.

Inclusive education is a process of changing the school environment based on respect and acceptance of other people. It implies wise management of school processes in a way which makes children feel supported to develop their capacity and to overcome hardships; which makes teachers feel encouraged and confident that they are able to cope with the growing challenges, while parents are able to assume their responsibility and role in partnership with schools.