Support team for students with learning needs set up in Macedonia

Although often inspiring, it is sometimes assumed that high level knowledge sharing events such as conferences do not always lead to lasting collaboration or action. However, a conference in Macedonia has resulted in a collaborative project to improve inclusive education across a number of schools in the region, including the creation of a specialist team dedicated to working with students with additional educational needs in one school in Skopje.

In 2014, the British Council organised a conference to explore inclusive education.

The conference was organised in partnership with the Vocational Education and Training Centre, the Macedonian Ministry of Education and Science, and partners at Open the Windows and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The conference was widely attended by policymakers and vocational and academic practitioners.  

The following year, ASUC Boro Petrusevski, a vocational secondary school based in Skopje who had attended the first conference, approached the British Council with a proposal. Although the school is recognised as one of the most inclusive schools in Macedonia, it was facing challenges and wanted to improve its ability to provide inclusive education. The school was one of six in Macedonia to be awarded funding from the European Union’s regional support grant and approached the British Council to work collaboratively to help meet the school’s challenges. 

Boro Petrusevski is a school that is committed to teaching all students regardless of their backgrounds: many students who enrol at the school are from disadvantaged communities in both urban and rural settings; many are from different ethnic minority groups and are at risk of social exclusion; and some have experienced domestic violence. Despite being a leader in inclusive education, there were students who teachers at Boro Petrusevski were struggling to teach. 

In an effort to help, in partnership with the school, the British Council organised a second two day conference with the objective of building on ideas previously discussed to transform learning into practical results.

The British Council brought together representatives from 14 vocational schools, three primary schools, including one special educational needs school and a number of universities.

Also in attendance were policymakers from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and representatives from 12 nongovernmental organisations. More than 100 people attended the first day of the conference to learn about UK policy and practice regarding inclusive education. Among other things the conference examined how to help with learners with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia, as well as those at risk of social exclusion.  

The second day of the conference was deliberately more focused. Attended by a smaller number of participants, two British Council consultants offered practical advice on how to identify and help students with additional educational needs. 

As a result of the conference, Boro Petrushevski have decided to create a specialist team to address the challenges faced by the school. The team will be dedicated to working with students with additional educational needs and will attempt to implement ideas discussed at the conference. 

The British Council will continue working with Boro Petrushevski and other schools in Macedonia to share best practice and explore possibilities for educational change. 

In the hope of sharing some the ideas discussed at the conference with an even wider audience, we are including a resource used by our consultants: top ten tips – a framework for inclusive teaching and learning. We hope this resource will help you think about ways to meet the needs of all learners. 

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