Desk-based research in Greece


Photo Credit Macrovector 

A first step in the implementation of the SMILE project was the desk-based research aiming to reach certain conclusions about education in country, including challenges and policies.

The greatest challenges for the Greek educational system, amidst low funding, are considered to be the education of refugees and inclusive education. Although there are many initiatives and positive steps towards efficient refugee integration such as the upgrade of the working group for the integration of refugees within the Ministry of Education as an autonomous department, there are still many steps to be taken as numerous refugee children lack access to education especially on the islands.

Regarding special education in Greece, the educational system faces multiple challenges also due to general low funding of education. It seems that although there are still many challenges to be faced and room for improvement, the educational context of Greece seems to be in a process of modernization and change especially with regard to intercultural education, inclusive education and adult learning. Out of the different inclusive education models and strategies available, it seems that the most prominent model in Greek schools is the model of “parallel support”. This method is usually used for students who are able to attend the general curriculum with individual support. Due to lack of resources though, it is quite common that parallel support is also used as an inclusive education method with students facing more severe learning difficulties.

Experts in special education as well as experts who work within specialized centers for diagnosis and support of special educational needs are appointed to the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Religion, to regional Directorates for Education as well as to the directorates of Primary and Secondary education following a regulated procedure for the educational personnel. The teacher of the classroom supervises the activities of the supporting personnel who is hired only when the school does not have a special education teacher.

Furthermore, each school must have its own policy in order to ensure child safeguarding. In every school, the teachers’ board along with the parents’ board and the school community decide on certain measures that ensure the organization of a school environment that is open, supports dialogue and creates trust among teachers and students.


The SMILE Project is: 

About the SMILE Project





Inclusive, good-quality education is a foundation for dynamic and equitable societies

Desmond Tutu, anti-apartheid and human rights activist


Scaling up the Model for Inclusive Learning in Europe (SMILE)

Start: 31-01-2019 - End: 30-01-2022 (extended to mid 2022 due to global pandemic)

Programme: Erasmus+

Key Action: Support for policy reform

Action Type: Social inclusion through education, training and youth

Project Reference: 604701-EPP-1-2018-1-BG-EPPKA3-IPI-SOC-IN


Objectives and aims

The project SMILE “Scaling up the Model for Inclusive Learning in Europe” is being implemented within 3 years in the period 31.01.2019 – 30.01.2022  by the Association for Shared Learning ELA (Bulgaria), ARCIL (Portugal), Four Elements (Greece) and Fundatia EuroEd (Romania). Leading partner of the project is the Association for Shared Learning ELA. The purpose of the project is to transfer and scale up a model of systemic approach to creating an inclusive school environment. The objective is to support teachers and leaders of educational institutions to address the diverse needs of all learners through introducing systemic change at school level.

Methodology in project implementation

The project encourages the development of inclusive school environment in Europe by scaling up the Model ‘One School for All’ in partner countries. A total of 9 school teams are trained and are applying the Model to the example of their colleagues in Bulgaria. The project aims at applying the Model in three EU countries: Greece, Portugal and Romania. It adapts the good practice to the local contexts and needs, and prepares it for future scaling up in the partner countries and at EU level. Common principles and approaches that are overarching the European contexts will be identified. The creation of a common ground in inclusive education, which bypasses the limitations and restrictions of national frameworks is envisioned in this project.

The application of the Model supports school teams in 9 schools and will result in better prepared teachers and principals and improved inclusive environment.

The first requirement is the school principal’s participation and a core of school teachers and specialists to realize the need for a school level change leading to developing an inclusive environment for all.

Once the motivation of the school faculty is declared, they go through a specifically designed by the Model process of work that helps them to get the real picture of their school in terms of inclusive education and to structure their efforts through the proposed cycle of work. At school level the overall process is coordinated and supported by a school leadership team, which consists of the school principal and a core of motivated teachers and specialists (a total of 6-7 members). Leadership members also coordinate the activities of the teams, which are responsible for the specific area’s development.



Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Portugal discuss making One School for All possible

The second management meeting of the teams from the European countries - Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Portugal - participating in the SMILE project took place on 26 and 27 February 2020 in Iasi, Romania. The SMILE project aims to scale-up and disseminate the Bulgarian Model for Inclusive School Environment “One School for All” in Europe. The model offers an innovative and systematic approach to the inclusion of all students, teachers and parents at school.

During the meeting, the project partners, as well as representatives of the Romanian schools, presented the results of the training courses on the “One School for All” Model  for the school teams in Romania, Greece and Portugal. They have presented the action plans of the schools which will work on this year to improve their school's policies and practices in the four priority areas - school leadership, child safeguarding, partnership with parents and teaching practices.
With all the participants, we had the opportunity to visit one of the Romanian schools and to speak with the whole team working on the Model there. The teachers told us about the progress of inclusive education in their country and about the changes they expect with the introduction of this innovative practice. The participants watched with interest the screening of the documentary movie “One School for All”, with the participation of teachers and principals from Bulgarian schools who had already applied the Model created by the ELA Association.

The next meeting of the partners will be held at the end of 2020 in Athens, Greece.

The SMILE project is funded by the European Commission under the Erasmus + program. It lasts for 3 years and runs from 01/31/2019 to 01/30/2022 by the Association for Shared Learning ELA (Bulgaria), ARCIL (Portugal), Four ELEMENTS (Greece) and Fundatia EuroEd (Romania). The lead project partner and author of the Model is the Association for Shared Learning ELA.

ToT SMILE … Starting the journey

During November and December of 2019, the 12 hours training on the SMILE methodology to promote Incluvie Education took place in Lousã, Portugal, promoted by ARCIL under de ERASMUS+ programme. During 3 sessions, 4 team members from ARCIL delievered the ToT to a group of teachers, specialists and parents. The training also engaged one representative from the Board of a Public School from Lousã.

The ToT was the “start of a journey”; the trainers are now part of the teams that will assess and intervene in 3 Inclusive Education schools during 1 and a half school years, foccusing on the following areas:

- Inclusive Leadership; 

- Pedagogical Practices;

- Partnership with Parents;

- Child Safeguarding.

The trainers are extremely thankful for all the enthusiasm from the participants!

“The books are ready!”

After the Training of Trainers (ToT) in Bulgaria, the project team from ARCIL proceded with the revision and adaptation of the manual and self-assessment tool from the “One School For All” approach to Inclusive Education.

João Canossa Dias, Mariana Silva and Marta Melo, SMILE consultants from ARCIL, finished the task! The Portuguese versions of the manual and the self-assessment tool are ready for the implementation of the project!


The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Centre for Inclusive Education

Address: Bulgaria,
1000 Sofia, 133 Knyaz Boris I, Str.

Phone: 00359 898 500 848

Contact persons:
Iva Boneva, Executive Director,
Liliya Arakchieva, Project Manager,