On Friday June 9th the European Symposium for Inclusivity in Schools, held on Friday, June 9th at the Goethe-Institut Athen. The event brought together educators, researchers, academics, civil society representatives, and students from across Europe. It marked the completion of the Erasmus+ program SIDiT - Supporting Inclusion and Diversity in Teaching implemented in five European countries, under the leadership of the Goethe-Institut Athen.
During the Symposium, we had the opportunity to hear the insights and experiences of multiple speakers on the topic of inclusivity in education. The event started with Petra Koeppel Meyer, Deputy Director of the Goethe-Institut Athen who delivered a welcome note. Kostis Papapioannou, the event moderator, opened the discussion with introductory remarks such as the framework of inclusive skills and the effectiveness of teacher trainings, raising also some of the contradictions that lead to a resistance to inclusion from both the school community and the existing policies at a European and national level.
The panel discussions were thought-provoking and informative. Katerina Toura, keynote speaker of the first panel titled Inclusive Education in Europe - Priorities, Challenges and Way forward, addressed some of the recent programs and policy initiatives of the European Union to foster inclusive education and combat discrimination, such as the Anti-Rasism Action Plan 2020-2025. Alison Egan highlighted the necessity of promoting digital education in schools and today’s societies and referred to the training initiatives of Irish universities promoting the digital literacy of (future) educators. Anastasia Psallida discussed UNESCO’s goal in achieving quality education
presented UNESCO’s intercultural tools ‘story circles’ and ‘storytelling’. Αlexandra Androusou highlighted the psychosocial and emotional needs of refugee and migrant children when accessing the national educational system(s), through the Greek school paradigm during the recent migration ‘crisis’ of 2015. She underlined the importance of the whole school community working together to create a sense of belonging.
In the second panel Innovative teaching methodologies in inclusive education – Experiences from the classroom participated educators who presented good practices from their classrooms. Florence Papadopoulos, primary school teacher at the GO! Toverfluit in Brussels explained how the project SIDiT created an intercultural dialogue and empowered students celebrate their identities in the lessons. Kleanthis Voulalas, principal of the 132 Primary School of Athens and Aspasia Kalisora, teacher at the 4th Primary School of Tavros (Attica) spoke about practices that can promote an inclusive school culture and build the foundations of a democratic school, such as the school assemblies. Lastly, Pepi Papadimitriou raised the topic of integration through art, through her experience as the appointed Refugee Education Coordinator at Ritsona Refugee accommodation centre.
Vasiliki Katsomaliari and Οurania Gkikopoulou presented the goals, outcomes, and evaluation results of the project SIDiT after three years of successful implementation, showcasing that the program had positive impact on both teachers and students, including the enhancement of the students’ transversal competences and their involvement in class activities.
The panel discussions and presentation were followed by three experiential workshops based on innovative educational methods. Iliana Kikidou organized the workshop Think green! Interactive Learning Stations to promote environmental awareness. Ioanna Ntali and Penelope Sotiropoulou facilitated the workshop on parental engagement in schools as part of the Erasmus+ project Parents Engage. Jorge Andreo, Silke Beerens, Florence Papadopoulos, and Mediha Turkistan organized a workshop on how to teach topics of culture, identity, and religion, based on the lessons included in the handbook of the SIDiT teaching methodology.
As promised, we are delighted to share some of the resources and materials presented during the events of the Symposium:
1. Presentation by Alexandra Androusou: "The Role of Teachers in Inclusive Education and the Importance of Training"
2. Presentation by Anastasia Psallida: "Inclusive Education for Achieving Quality Education in UNESCO"
3. Presentation by Katerina Toura: "Anti-racism and Inclusive Education"
If you wish to explore the SIDiT learning and teaching tools further, we encourage you to visit the project's official website. You can download for free the learning and training toolkit and policy recommendations to promote inclusion in classrooms. If you want to try SIDiT and need more information, you are encouraged to reach out to Vasiliki Katsomaliari at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those interested in the "Think Green! Interactive Learning Stations" and wish to learn more on how to promote environmental awareness, we recommend contacting Iliana Kikidou at Iliana.email@example.com.
If you are interested in the Erasmus+ project "Parents Engage." promoting parental engagement in schools, please feel free to reach out to Ioanna Ntali at firstname.lastname@example.org and Penelope Sotiropoulou at email@example.com