Cluster access and social inclusion in lifelong learning
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CLUSTER “ACCESS AND SOCIAL INCLUSION IN LIFELONG LEARNING”. Report of the Peer Learning Activity “ Measures to Address Diversity in the Basque Country” 8-10 October 2008 Cluster meeting 19 November 2009 Dr. Dragana Avramov PLA in the Basque Country.

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Cluster access and social inclusion in lifelong learning

Report of the Peer Learning Activity

“Measures to Address Diversity in the Basque Country”

8-10 October 2008

Cluster meeting 19 November 2009

Dr. Dragana Avramov

Pla in the basque country
PLA in the Basque Country

The PLA activities included

  • a full day presentation of policies and measures and their underpinning normative standards

  • visits, spread over two days, to four school establishments to see how the implementation of measures addressing diversity works in practice


Presentations addressed the Spanish and Basque education system

  • the response of the Basque education system to social and cultural diversity

  • inclusive schooling as the priority line

  • measures to address educational inequalities due to social and cultural factors

  • Learning Community – a programme for transforming schools with the objective of reaching educational equality and improving the living-together

  • dialogic learning as an educational practice aiming towards the school success of all pupils

  • vocational training


The Cluster visited

  • two primary schools (Ondarroa LHI, Bizkaia province, and Gipuzkoa, Belaskoenea province), implementing Learning Community project

  • one secondary school (Mungia BHI, the province of Bizkaia) also part of the Learning Community project

  • one secondary school (Koldo Mitxelena BHI, the province of Belaskoenea) carrying out special education intervention projects

Inclusiveness of the basque education system
Inclusiveness of the Basque education system

In recent decades the Basque education system has been performing well:

  • 100 percent access to basic education

  • relatively low early-school leaving rates 14.5 % (Spain as a whole 29.9%)

  • good PISA results for mathematics

  • affirmation of the Basque culture through Euskera education model

Linguistic and socio cultural context
Linguistic and socio-cultural context

  • The Basque language Euskera shares the official status with Spanish

  • The value of learning Euskera is widely recognized in bilingual schooling

  • Diversity in the social background of learners and ideological pluralism

  • Inflow of immigrants

Educational context
Educational context

Three curricula models are available to pupils:

  • Model A: instruction is carried out in Spanish and Euskera has the status of a language subject thought for a determined number of hours

  • Model B: schooling is carried out in two languages Euskera and Spanish and both languages are also thought as specific subjects

  • Model D: schooling is carried out in Euskera and Spanish is thought as a specific subject for a determined number of hours

Trends in choices of language model
Trends in choices of language model

  • In the 1980s students enrolled in Model A outnumbered that for Models B and D put together

  • Model A is now on decline as parents give greater value to education in Euskera

  • The expected trend in prevalence of different available models in basic education may be illustrated by the statistics for the number of three-year-olds in infant pre-school education in the different linguistic models. The coverage of three-year-olds by pre-school education is 100 percent

  • In the school year 2003-2004 Model A was chosen by 8.1 percent, Model B by 30.5 percent and Model D by 61.4 percent of parents of pre-school children


Programmes for promoting multiculturalism have been set up in 2007:

  • some 48 schools are benefitting from additional staff to provide support to pupils who have recently arrived in the Basque Country

  • primary schools with more than 25 percent and secondary schools with more than 15 percent immigrant children receive additional half full teacher hours to provide language support and knowledge about Basque society and culture

Inclusive schooling as the priority line
Inclusive schooling as the priority line

  • high policy commitment to equity and quality in education

  • allocation of significant financial and human resources for inclusive schooling

  • compensatory measures to support children in mainstream education, and those adolescents who have dropped out to acquire basic skills for work

The main focus of pla
The main focus of PLA

The main focus of PLA was visits to schools implementing Learning Community approach to learn about

  • characteristics of the projects

  • pedagogical elements implemented

  • participation of the key stakeholders

Learning community project
Learning Community project

  • an alternative to traditional instruction

  • interaction between an education centre and its environment implementing integrated, participatory, and continuing type of education

  • encapsulates innovative teaching practices, including dialogic learning which may contribute to higher achievement for all children

Basic principles of dialogic learning
Basic principles of dialogic learning

Seven basic principles underpin the concept of dialogic learning

  • egalitarian dialogue

  • cultural intelligence (academic, practical and communicative)

  • transformation of difficulties into possibilities

  • instrumental dimension

  • creation of meaning

  • solidarity

  • equality of differences


  • egalitarianism promotes contributions of each participant based on richness of arguments rather than status

  • capability approach valorises the potential for participation of all in dialog on equal footing

  • added value of communication and knowledge exchange for addressing challenges

  • high level of expectations shared between teachers, pupils, parents and community

  • commitment that all pupils need to develop their skills at maximum rather than at the minimum level

Five steps for implementing community learning project
Five steps for implementing Community Learning project

  • The academic guidelines for the project’s phases are developed by the Centre for Social and Educational Research (CREA)

  • Five steps are prescribed:

    • sensibilisation phase (preparatory phase)

    • decision making phase (preparatory phase)

    • phase of the dream

    • priority selection phase

    • planning phase

Lessons learnt about lc project keeping teachers ambitious for their pupils
Lessons learnt about LC projectKeeping teachers ambitious for their pupils

The most visible outcome of the Learning Community project that we could observe is an exceptionally high level of enthusiasm and commitment among the teaching staff

  • One of the key success factors of LC project is the real commitment to inclusive education which comes from teachers

  • Teachers must be actors and not clients of a Learning Community project

Lessons learnt about lc project activating the chain of primary actors
Lessons learnt about LC projectActivating the chain of primary actors

Learning Community project is a good way for addressing diversity of learners abilities and socio-cultural backgrounds because it

  • Prepares teachers to deal with pupils having different levels of abilities, and bilingual characteristics of the country

  • Prepares children to learn in a mutually supportive way

  • Helps parents to help their children

Lessons learnt about lc project a school project as the unifying factor
Lessons learnt about LC projectA school project as the unifying factor

One of the major challenges of schools across Europe is bringing parents into a learning community so that they become actively involved at school

  • A common general project, such as Learning Community, proves to be a strong unifying factor. It engages parents and it attracts children to schools in which they feel their voice is being heard

  • Individual project, carried out within the school, such as choir, dancing or theatrical performance, are strong cohesive activities for integration of all ages and all languages

Lessons learnt about lc project learning solidarity
Lessons learntabout LC projectLearning solidarity

  • Through dialogic learning those who are more proficient or have greater abilities in a particular task help others, thus reinforcing their own knowledge and forging group solidarity

Lessons learnt about lc project learning community concept and bilingual community
Lessons learnt about LC projectLearning Community concept and bilingual community

  • The powerful theoretical basis of Learning Community project is well suited to the cultural and bilingual context of the Basque Country as it reinforces both the notions of community and that of cultural diversity

  • Some of basic principles of dialogic learning such as cultural intelligence or creation of meaning favours education in Euskera language, and bilingual communication

Assessment of the impact of the learning community project
Assessment of the impact of the Learning Community project

The assessment by the LC project coordinators and the education authorities is in course but it is too early to measure impact in the Basque Country

Self assessment by schools

  • Some schools which are implementing Learning Community, report that the project has helped to raise standards as regards students’ achievement and self-esteem

  • The project also helped to increase the enrolment ratio in some schools that were losing pupils and were at the risk of becoming stigmatized due to low achievement of pupils and high turnover of teachers (magnet effect)

Cluster observations positive effects of learning community project
Cluster observationsPositive effects of Learning Community project

  • Positive effects are seen as:

    • greater social involvement and interaction between teachers, pupils, parents and community activists

    • schools are tipping into the capacities and are using local community as a source of knowledge to bring into the learning environment

    • schools are bringing together plurality of societal values and bridging a divide between what children learn at home and what they learn at school

Cluster observations some challenges for learning community project
Cluster observationsSome challenges for Learning Community project

  • Learning Community has been rather effective in tipping into the knowledge of the local community, and more particularly into the social capital and resources of community’s prominent members

  • One of the future challenges for Learning Community projects is bringing aboard socially marginalised families who themselves may need some training in order to acquire skills to help their children in the learning process, and to help themselves become better integrated in a broader community

  • It is not fully clear how tipping into the knowledge of the local community is to be achieved in segregated urban areaswhen the school is located in a ghetto with 100% of its population representing one culture, one language, one religion… with parents having problems of communication in the language used at school

Transferability of learning community projects in the basque country
Transferability of Learning Community projects in the Basque Country

There are currently no plans for a general introduction of the Learning Community concept in the entire Basque Country. The choice of the Basque government is to develop syllabus, and leave the choice of methods to schools

  • Dissemination about Learning Community project, which is considered to be a successful model, is given preference over regulations coming from the education authorities

  • The Basque education authorities are actively supporting LC projects making it possible but not obligatory for schools to take it up

  • Even if schools do not take up LC project the education authorities plan to channel resources to measures which keep pupils together in groups rather than separating them into ability groups and taking weak performers out of regular classes

Special education intervention projects in areas of disadvantage
Special Education Intervention Projects in Areas of Disadvantage

Education authorities have embedded in the educational system several compensatory measures:

  • Special education intervention

  • Curricula diversification programmes

  • Complementary schooling programmes

  • From what we have seen in practice specific measures which were put in place to address special education needs of some children, by taking them out of some regular classes may be leading to more, rather than less segregation of pupils lagging behind

    In the overall context of preventative and compensatory measures seen in the Basque Country Learning Community project appears as a desirable step forwards towards more inclusive quality education

Vocational training
Vocational training Disadvantage

Whereas in some countries VET is considered to contribute to early-school leaving in the Basque Country it is believed that vocational training meet both individual and societal needs due to:

  • the quality of vocational training

  • continuous assessment of needs of businesses for new occupations

  • life long learning opportunities through continuous VET

  • 50 percent of pupils with initial vocational training find a job in the first month from graduation, and within six months 83 percent of graduates are in employment