Special needs, social skills and data security dominate international meeting

INTO, along with the main teacher unions from Ireland and the UK, was represented in recent days at the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) meeting at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. The OECD is a major influence in world education. Its survey instruments, including the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) are becoming the global standard. The TUAC reflects long-standing social partnership arrangements operated by OECD.

The advisory committee explored a number of key themes in education.


‘Strength Through Diversity’ is a project aiming to identify how education systems can be equitable and inclusive by supporting the learning and well-being outcomes of diverse populations and ensuring that all individuals are able to engage with others in increasingly diverse and complex societies.

The project has broadened from a study of migrants to include other factors including special needs. Policy approaches on special needs are being analysed across a number of countries with Portugal soon to be examined. INTO is in contact with our Portuguese counterparts to compare experiences in this area.

Social and Emotional Skills 

A study on social and emotional Skills is exploring how these can be improved for children, in a context where a positive relationship is established between these skills and life outcomes in areas such as health, education and overall wellbeing.

Data Governance and Online Threats

Data governance and protecting children online was a theme at this TUAC meeting. The OECD is revising data privacy guidelines while there is a strong international push for open data and data sharing. Concerns were raised about some companies’ “data mining”, to acquire information from children.

Teaching and Learning International Study (TALIS)

The study is the largest measurement of international teacher opinion on professional issues. A total of 48 countries (but not Ireland, as decided by the Department of Education and Skills) participated in TALIS 2018. Discussion concerned additional matters to be examined in the next survey, with a possible focus on newly qualified teachers, and the inclusion of more teachers of younger children both at primary and pre-school levels.

Other topics of discussion included the effect of adverse childhood experiences on progress in education, and job security in a changing world of work.

Pictured at the TUAC meeting are Noel Ward (Deputy General Secretary INTO), Moira Leyden (Assistant General Secretary ASTI) and John Mac Gabhann (General Secretary TUI).