Title INVESTT - Inclusive Vocational Education and Specialised Tailor-made Training
Project Number 527924-LLP-1-2012-1-BE-LEONARDO-LMP
Project Type Development of Innovation
Country EU-Centralised Projects
Marketing Text The INVESTT project provided vocational schools with specific information and suggestions in order to guide all students (including those with disabilities) towards the open labour market. The project developed and implemented a teaching programme in the mainstream educational system in Flanders (Belgium), Austria, Slovenia and Norway. The teaching programmes was intensively cross-referenced with the expectations of the labour market and had for objective to improve the inclusiveness of these settings and the employment of – especially – students with a disability into the open labour market.
INVESTT wants to provide vocational schools with specific tips in order to guide all students towards the open labour market.
A teaching programme is thus produced in each partner country to help practitioners to create a universal design in their learning environment. This teaching programme is assessed through a cyclical approach, where it is first developed theoretically then tried and tested in the field throughout two years.
In this perspective, the project was developed in four countries representing different social cultures in Europe – Belgium, Norway, Austria and Slovenia. In each country, three partner organisations are involved, each with their specific expertise. The university develops the theoretical framework, the school implements the teaching programme and the service provider supports the national team with its expertise in special needs education.
The research team has developed 1) a research paper developing the theoretical framework of the project, 2) a research paper evaluating the teaching programmes at country level, as well as 3) the Strategy at European level which extracts from the national contexts studied suggestions for practitioners across Europe to develop a universal design in their own VET context.
The schools have implemented the teaching programmes from September 2013 until August 2015, and have all noted remarkable changes in the approach and practice of both teachers and students.
All children and adults with disabilities have the same right to inclusive and high quality education as everyone else.
Since the Salamanca Statement of 1994 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of 2006, there is a political will within the 27 EU countries to carry out the necessary changes in the field of legislation and school organisation. Still, we have a long way ahead before reaching a society where equal opportunities are guaranteed for all. In many special as well as mainstream schools and training centres still much uncertainty and a lack of knowledge can be seen.
Particularly, in times of economic crisis, extra attention should be given to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the labour market. They can represent a significant addition to the labour force and thus contribute to economic production. Unfortunately, during the last years a dramatic decrease can be seen in the employment opportunities for people with disabilities across Europe: reports show that not only they have fewer opportunities to be employed than their non-disabled counterparts on the open labour market, but they are also among the first ones to be dismissed when economies have to be made.
Therefore, action should be taken.
Previous research done at European level, as well as the principles ‘Universal Design’ and ‘Reasonable Accommodation’, as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), will guide us in reaching the project outcomes.
- What is ‘Reasonable Accommodation’?
“Reasonable accommodation” means necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms;”
(UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006, p.4)
- What is ‘Universal Design’?
“Universal design” means the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. “Universal design” shall not exclude assistive devices for particular groups of persons with disabilities where this is needed.”
(UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006, p.4)
A 4-phase approach will be used. The dissemination and exploitation activities will take place across these 4 phases.
1. The first 9 months will be dedicated to the research on what has been done with regard to ‘universal design’ and ‘reasonable accommodation’.
This research will lead to an overall strategy on the setting up of an inclusive learning environment, helping the national project teams to develop a concrete teaching programme in their country.
2. In the school year to follow (Sept 2013 – July 2014), the schools in the consortium will implement the programme in their learning environment with intensive support from the service providers.
3. The tasks related to the 3rd phase of the project (Aug 2014 – July 2015) are 2-fold. At the one hand, the students who have received a qualification, will be followed in their job, in order to further streamline the programme with the requirements of the labour market. At the other hand, new students will participate in the teaching programme.
4. Although the evaluation of the teaching programmes will be done on a continuous basis, the bulk of the evaluation and reporting work will be done during the last 4 project months. These months will be crucial to come to a sustainable product, ready to be used and further developed in the future.
The common evaluation model will be developed by the research centres in close cooperation with the entire consortium at the very start of the project, and will follow the principles of an action research (cyclic process of research and action).
- Persons with special educational needs
- Family of persons with special educational needs
- Head masters and school personnel in vocational schools and training centres
- Service providers for persons with disabilities
The project includes 1 European Association (EASPD), which will take up the role of coordinator, and 4 national project teams. Each national project team consists of
- 1 service provider
- 1 university/research centre
- 1 vocational school/training centre
Access for disadvantaged
The results of the project were :
1. A teaching programme in each partner country. Developed by the universities in collaboration with the schools, the programmes were implemented in schools with the support of service providers. The difference in the teaching environment – the way the class was prepared as well as the way it was given and the content it included – was recognised and appreciated both by the teachers and the students. This can be found on the website www.investt.eu.
2. A research paper outlining the theoretical framework of the project, as well as a dissemination paper summarising the findings of the research, available in English, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Slovenian and Easy-to-Read. This can be found on the website www.investt.eu.
3. A research paper presenting the conclusions and recommendations of the project. It also includes the evaluation methodology that was used as well as the outcomes in each partner country. A second dissemination paper was also developed to summarise these findings, available in English, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Slovenian and Easy-to-Read. This can be found on the website www.investt.eu.
4. A strategy at European level helping practitioners in other countries to implement a universal design in their own VET context, based on the findings in the partner countries. This can be found on the website www.investt.eu.
5. Four national seminars and four stakeholder forums, raising awareness and encouraging stakeholders to implement teaching programmes with a universal design in their own learning environment. The reports can be found on the website www.investt.eu.
6. An online Knowledge Centre on inclusive education in mainstream education as well as in the VET sector. This can be found on the website www.investt.eu.
7. Five INVESTT newsletters on the state of play of the project, as well as other projects and events related to inclusive education. You can subscribe to the newsletter through the INVESTT homepage, www.investt.eu.
8. A database of stakeholders interested in inclusive education, counting 899 stakeholders and growing. This covers universities, research centres, schools, VET centres, service providers, local, national and European authorities as well as individuals and media outlets.