Partner Introduction (Bulgaria): National Association of Professionals Working with Disabled People

NARHU is a non-governmental and non-profit association registered in the public service in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. It comprises of various types of professionals who are working with people with disabilities in terms of their social inclusion, education and employment. Its main activities are directed towards people with different types of disabilities – incl. physical, sensory, intellectual, cognitive and complex disabilities. The team of NARHU involves well-known experts in the field of inclusive education, psychology, social work and support, vocational counselling, as well as early intervention support for children with special needs.

NARHU is in charge of developing:

  • Inclusive education materials based on the P-level  system;
  • Supporting educative materials for youth and adults with disabilities and their teachers/trainers;
  • Providing guidance to teachers and trainers in relation to how to collaborate and adapt their teaching and training strategies to learners with intellectual disabilities and cognitive impairments.
  • Artificial intelligence and educational games designed to boost students` engagement in the training activities; 
  • Flexible schemes helping the carrier development of young people and adults from disadvantaged groups, such as mentoring and coaching, instruments for attractive and effective self-presentation in front of potential employers;
  • Innovative programmes for vocational education and training in accordance with the up to date requirements of the labour market in European context;
  • Trainings for professionals working with children and adults with disabilities in specific focus on their independence, quality of life and inclusion;
  • Cooperation with NGO’s, vocational training organizations, universities, and other institutions on regional, national and international level with the aim to exchange and transfer good practices and successful strategies in inclusion domains;
  • A validation framework for evaluation of the achievements of people with disabilities and disadvantaged;
  • Innovative approaches in implementation of training processes, incorporated in ODL Systems and mobile applications for flexible and accessible training, based on contemporary researches and methods for inclusive education and VET.

Maria Goranova has been the Chairperson of NARHU, Bulgaria since its establishment in 2014. She has master’s degrees in Applied Psychology, International relations and English philology. Mrs. Goranova has more than 20 years’ experience in project management and implementation. Her background is in disability expertise, applied psychology and inclusive education, in addition to her work as a well-known supported employment pioneer in Bulgaria, who introduced this service for the first time in the country. She is a coordinator of a number of European projects, including Erasmus+ funded programmes amongst others. She has conducted a variety of training sessions using different training methods such as presentations, open discussions role-play games, video demonstrations and work in small groups, whilst also providing regular trainings on disability awareness and tips how to conduct oneself with colleagues/clients with disabilities.

Petya Grudeva is a member of NARHU since the beginning of its activities. She has university degrees in Marketing, Political sciences and Applied Psychology. She is an expert in the field of disability and employability of people with special needs, as well as in initiatives for the improvement of the independent living and quality of life. She is an expert in “Peer Education”, “Disability Etiquette”, Psychological counselling and development of entrepreneurial skills. At present, Petya engages in training for people with disabilities in relation to the development of transversal skills and professional competences. She has also been engaged in research related to user requirements, establishing quality management strategies, public campaigns initiatives, pilot trainings and their implementation, as well as “train the trainers” programmes in the field of social affairs since 2002.

Partner Introduction (Ireland): The Institute of Child Education and Psychology, Europe

The Institute of Child Education and Psychology, Europe (ICEP Europe) is the proud Irish partner on the Erasmus+ TRAINS research project. ICEP Europe is a leading training and research institution which uniquely combines a range of educational, clinical and research psychology and learning technology skills. Since 2001, ICEP Europe has established an excellent track record of developing translational crosscutting and interdisciplinary online university programmes and has long worked in partnership with established institutions to create programmes at undergraduate and post-graduate level. At a national level, the organisation has worked with various statutory agencies including the Department of Education and Skills and the National Council for Special Educational Needs (NCSE), as well as non-governmental organisations to build capacity of educators to deliver quality inclusive education in the 21st Century, thereby leaving the organisation well placed to contribute positively to a project such as TRAINS.

ICEP Europe also provides consultancy and research services and is currently involved in several large-scale national and pan-European research programmes and have established a strong network of partners which support its research activities. Research projects have included Project Iris, a national, longitudinal evaluation of the delivery of special needs education in Irish schools and the experiences, and inclusion needs, of pupils/students with special education needs and disability (SEND). ICEP Europe were also a key partner in iTIDE an Erasmus+ funded programme, which involved the development and delivery of inclusion training in intellectual disability which was targeted at educators. We are also currently involved in several funded Erasmus+ and Justice Programme projects and have collaborated with partners from over 14 European countries. Our areas of research expertise include: resilience building, inclusion, child and youth development, evidence-based practice and capacity development for educators and health and well- being and positive psychology. 


Dr Deirdre MacIntyre (CPsychol, PhD) is a co-founder of ICEP Europe and member of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) and the European Network for Positive Psychology, and will lead ICEP’s contributions to TRAINS. Before joining ICEP Europe, Deirdre was principal clinical psychologist in the Eastern Regional Health Authority. Deirdre is also the co-author of the Stay Safe Programme, a nationally implemented child protection programme. Among Deirdre’s special interests are inclusion, resilience and wellbeing and applied positive psychology. Deirdre lectures on special needs and psychology for ICEP Europe and teaches on collaborative programmes with Dublin City University, Leeds Beckett and the University of East London.


Stephen Smith currently occupies the role of Senior Research Officer at ICEP Europe, having joined the team in January 2017. He holds a BA (Hons) in Psychology and an MSc (Hons) in Health Psychology, both from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Stephen has presented research in the area of trauma-informed educational practice at national conferences and possesses a keen interest in the area of inclusive pedagogy and the promotion of the rights of marginalised and disadvantaged groups. Stephen has extensive experience in participating in a range of successfully implemented Erasmus+ research projects in the areas of capacity building and the promotion of resilience.

Partner Introduction – Leeds Beckett University

Carnegie School of Education are just one of the partners working on the TRAINS project over the next three years. The Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University seeks through all its activities to redefine the education and professional development of the children and young people’s workforce. They offer distinctive and creative undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that are responsive to the changes taking place in society, focusing on the diverse skills required of modern professionals. 

The School is committed to having a deep, beneficial impact within and beyond the education sector. All research undertaken within the school has a social justice focus with an emphasis on the research’s contribution to improving the lives of young people, the experiences of their families and the educational communities they are part of. Carnegie School of Education is proud to be involved in a wide range of international partnerships including the TRAINS project.

Carnegie School of Education is the lead organisation within the TRAINS project and is led by Dr Susan Atkinson. Susan is a Senior Lecturer in Carnegie School of Education with responsibility for Early Years programmes. Susan is a cognitive-developmental psychologist with research interests in transition to school, cognitive development in the early years, and factors affecting academic attainment through the school years and in students in HE. Susan led the previous Erasmus+ project, ITIDE, on behalf of Carnegie School of Education which aimed to foster inclusion for children and young people with complex needs through developing open access online training materials for educators and parents.

Dr Mhairi C Beaton is supporting Susan with the leadership of the TRAINS project on behalf of Carnegie School of Education. Mhairi is a Reader within the Carnegie School and has extensive experience of leading research projects funded by Scottish Government, the European Union and independent research funding bodies. Mhairi’s research interests lie at the interface of inclusion, teacher education and student voice.