Across Europe, many differences persist regarding availability, access, quality, and inclusiveness of education. These differences and gaps do not exist only across countries, but also within them, as children’s social background and personal circumstances still play a significant role in their educational experiences and outcomes.

Last year, Member States adopted a Council Recommendation establishing a European Child Guarantee, which aims to guarantee effective access of children in need to free early childhood education and care (ECEC) and school education, amongst other services and basic rights.

This preliminary study on access to inclusive education looks into the available evidence and the long-standing experience of our members to identify the most pressing issues around equal access to ECEC and compulsory education, particularly for children at risk of poverty and social exclusion. Drawing from this, we deliver some key recommendations to policymakers both at the EU and national level.

These are some of the recommendations:

  • All countries must urgently submit their Child Guarantee national action plans, paying

attention to the financial and non-financial barriers that hinder access to inclusive, quality education and school-based activities for all children, and actively tackling school segregation.

  • We call on all Member States to swiftly implement the recently adopted Council

Recommendation on the Revision of the Barcelona Targets. Roma children, children with a migrant background, and children with disabilities must be particularly targeted to allow them to access inclusive, high quality ECEC.

  • It is urgent that countries prioritise active desegregation and deinstitutionalisation of all children to foster a sound and inclusive school education system. Special education should be the exception, and the inclusion of all children into mainstream education should be the rule.
  • We call on governments to enable not-for-profit-social educational service providers to offer effective and inclusive educational programs by establishing a proportionate allocation of funds to those providers that are highly committed to inclusive education.

This publication is part of our developing effort to monitor the implementation of the Child Guarantee, and it will serve as a baseline to allow us and our members to examine the progress on access to inclusive education across Europe in the following years.

You can find the full publication here.