The project aims at improving the ECEC systems of the partner regions, making them inclusive and avoiding the segregation of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in „special schools“, allowing these children to be equally prepared to enter the education system. The specific objectives of the project are:
- Allow preschool teachers to have the necessary knowledge and competencies to be able to include children with ASD in the activities of the classroom;
- Reduce disparities in learning outcomes between children with and without ASD.
Although different initiatives exist at national level, the European dimension of this project will allow the sharing of good practices between pre-schools and specialised organisations in ASD from different EU regions, some more advanced than others, and the replicability and transferability of the project’s results to other EU schools.
The EU Strategic Framework for Education and Training 2020 recognizes Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC)’s potential for addressing social inclusion and economic challenges and has therefore set a benchmark to ensure that at least 95 % of children aged between four and the starting age of compulsory education participate in the ECEC. This target also aims at addressing another one of the Europe 2020 headline targets on education: the decrease of early school leaving (ESL). For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ESL is even more of a problem.
According to the report „Support for children with special educational needs“, from the DG for Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion, these children tend to be less represented in ECEC, due to the lack of adapted environment. This need of inclusive education is reflected in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which in article 24.2 states that persons with disabilities should not be excluded from the general education system, posing the challenge of allowing education systems to be adapted to all students, providing them with the support that they need. Research shows that in order to implement a successful inclusive education, ECEC teachers do not need direct knowledge and skills relating to certain specific types of disabilities, but rather the more general skills, competencies, and attitudes that are needed to deal with a variety of learners in the classroom.
The main activities of this project include preparing of online training for pre-school teachers based on the identified real-life classroom situations in which these competencies would be useful and development of methodology templates for systemic peer observation and support between teachers. At the end of the project, three regional events will take place in Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Spain in order to promote the project’s results to local authorities, organisations working with children with ASD, universities, training organizations and the civil society. In Belgium, there will be organized an international event to present the project’s results to the participants from different EU countries.
The first meeting of ETTECEC project took place in the largest city of the Canary Islands, namely Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, on 11 January 2018. At the end of a one-day meeting, in which project objectives and partner tasks were specified, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria prepared a press conference that was attended by local TV Gran Canaria. As a result, the wider public could also learn about the project’s objectives.
On June 19, 2018, the second project meeting was held in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana. All partners presented the results of the research which was focused on children with autistic spectrum disorders. The research included observations of the pre-school environment, interviews with children, parents, and teachers. Based on the results of the research, the content of the curriculum for pre-school teachers was developed to help teachers in their work with autistic children.
The research results from the Czech Republic, Spain and Slovenia are available in PDF: https://ettecec.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/result-of-observation-in-schools_ettecec-project1.pdf
In the February the first newsletter was published. It is available here: https://mailchi.mp/9e6cbb67cd98/ettecec-newsletter?e=493aa32ee6