Teacher professional development in the field of inclusive education: The case of Serbia Dr. Nataša Matović in dr. Vera Spasenović
Summary: The competence of teachers and other professionals to work in inclusive settings is an important prerequisite for the education of children with developmental disabilities and children from other vulnerable groups in mainstream schools. The introduction of inclusive education in Serbia raised the issue of whether and to what extent teachers are prepared for inclusion. The goal of the research was to determine how class and subject teachers in Serbia assess their own preparedness for working with children with developmental disabilities, the benefits and effects that certain forms of professional development have on their competence to work in inclusive settings and any potential differences between these two cohorts of teachers (class and subject teachers). The research sample included 212 teachers from five Belgrade primary schools. The instrument used for data gathering was a combination of a survey and a scale. The findings suggest that teachers assess as average their preparedness to work with children with developmental disabilities, and that the benefits of initial education and seminar attendance are very modest. The effects of seminars, according to the teachers, have primarily led to the deepening of theoretical knowledge, but they were less useful for advancing the necessary skills, particularly those aimed at changing attitudes related to educating children with developmental disabilities in mainstream schools. The paper discusses the possible reasons for such a state of affairs, and offers recommendations about possibilities for improving teacher competences in inclusive practice.