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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Separate special education needs provision in early childhood and school education


12.Educational Support and Guidance

12.2Separate special education needs provision in early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Definition of the target groups

Early childhood education

Pre-school establishments are available for children (from their birth until they start school) with increased educational and care needs because of disabilities, and here there are integrative offers as well as specific offers (remedial kindergartens for hearing training and language acquisition, for example). 

School education

see chapter 12.1

Admission requirements and choice of school

Early childhood education

Attendance of kindergarten in Austria is voluntary until a child reaches the age of five. For the last year immediately before school entry, however, kindergarten attendance is compulsory. Here parents of children with special educational needs can themselves decide if they want their child to go to an integrative group or an establishment for children and youths with SEN. If attendance of kindergarten is too much of a burden for the child, parents can apply for exceptional exemption or look after their child at home. 

School education: learners with SEN

For more information about admission requirements and the choice of schools, please refer to chapter 12.1

School education: gifted/talented learners99

Giftedness and excellence are essentially promoted as part of lessons in the regular school system (cf. chapter 12.1). In addition there are also specific schools for highly talented pupils, for example the “Sir Karl Popper Schule” located in Vienna and founded in 1998. It has a special admission procedure which comprises an admission test and a counselling interview. 

Age levels and grouping of pupils

Early childhood education

There is an obligation to attend kindergarten for children – including children with special educational needs – from the age of five. Before this, children can attend childcare establishments on a voluntary basis.

The number of children in integrative kindergarten groups is regulated by province because kindergartens are in the sphere of responsibility of the provinces. Basically children with SEN are counted double. There must not be more than four children with severe impairments in an integrative group. The maximum number of children can be lowered by the provincial government in individual cases. 

School education: learners with SEN

The number of pupils in special needs schools must be determined by the school head according to the School Organisation Act. He/she shall take into account the requirements of pedagogy and safety, the educational needs of pupils, the space available and the burden on teachers.

In primary school classes in which children with and without special educational needs are taught together, the proportion of SEN-children is dependent on the type and severity of the disability and the support needed. 

Curriculum, subjects

Early school education

The tasks, objectives and framework conditions of kindergartens are regulated at the provincial level in kindergarten and child education and childcare laws and regulations.

A binding qualitative pedagogical standard through the definition of basic pedagogical documents and a uniform language proficiency assessment procedure (BESK (DaZ) KOMPAKT) as well as further objectives are laid down in the agreement between the Federal Government and the provinces on Elementary Education for the Kindergarten Years 2022/23 to 2026/27 in accordance with Art. 15a B-VG. 

School education: learners with SEN

The Austrian School Organisation Act distinguishes between different types of special needs school (cf. chapter 12.1) which are geared towards the educational requirements of individual disability types. For general special needs school, school for children with special educational needs and also special needs school for deaf or blind children there is a curriculum geared towards the particular type of disability. The curricula of general special needs school and special needs school for blind children include ICT education. In the other school types the curricula of primary school or compulsory secondary schools are used with corresponding adaptations (see here: link to the various curricula). 

The framework curricula for special needs schools are drawn up by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research.

In integrative classes teaching is done on the basis of the regular curricula. These give teachers the opportunity to set learning objectives which are in line with each child. If necessary, children with SEN are taught in all or individual subjects according to the curriculum of another school grade or according to the curriculum of a special needs school. ICT is taught according to these curricula. Basically, the timetable of the corresponding school grade at regular school needs to be used if this does not represent too much work for children with SEN. Any deviations which are necessary must be determined on a case-by-case basis by the school in agreement with the school authority. 

School education: gifted/talented learners

For highly talented children who are taught at regular schools, the curriculum of the school in question basically applies. However, teachers are required to promote highly talented children by means of differentiation and individualisation. In addition, enrichment or acceleration measures (cf. chapter 12.1) can also be used. 

Teaching methods and materials

Early school education

The decision about which teaching methods and materials are used for children with SEN at kindergarten essentially has to be taken by the kindergarten teachers themselves. The education plans of the provinces provide guidance here. Furthermore, the application of binding basic pedagogical documents and a uniform language proficiency assessment procedure (BESK (DaZ) KOMPAKT) is stipulated in the agreement between the Federal Government and the provinces on Elementary Education for the Kindergarten Years 2022/23 to 2026/27 in accordance with Art. 15a B-VG. 

School education: learners with SEN

In principle, teachers are free to choose the teaching method best suited to their circumstances. According to § 17 of the School Education Act, they are responsible for organising lessons in a clear and contemporary manner, instructing pupils to act independently and to cooperate in the community, leading each pupil to the best possible performance in accordance with his or her abilities, ensuring the success of teaching as a basis for further education through suitable methods and the appropriate use of teaching materials, and consolidating it through appropriate exercises.

Integrative instruction works with various pedagogical measures such as cooperative working forms (team teaching), inner differentiation/individualisation (consideration of specific needs), pupil-centred work, open forms of learning, project-oriented and interdisciplinary learning.

The website Community Inclusive Education - Special Needs Education of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research provides support materials for special needs education. 

School education: gifted/talented learners

On its website the Austrian Research and Support Centre for the Gifted and Talented provides a summary of different possibilities for the support of (highly) talented pupils. 

Progression of pupils

School education: learners with SEN

Performance appraisal and performance assessment are carried out according to the same principles as are laid down for the other compulsory schools in the School Education Act and the Ordinance on Performance Evaluation. For more information please see chapters 5.3., 6.3.

The possibility of classifying, teaching and assessing pupils with special educational needs according to different curricula both in special needs schools and also in integrative teaching forms at regular schools is recorded in additional clauses in the certificates.

Pupils with special educational needs at general schools are entitled to move up to the next higher school grade if this offers a better opportunity for development for the pupil overall. The school conference has to decide on this according to § 20(8) of the School Education Act (SchUG).

In integrated classes, pupils with different disabilities can also remain in the existing class if they have a negative performance assessment. 

School education: gifted/talented learners

According to the School Education Act, highly talented pupils have the possibility of skipping a school grade. The Compulsory Schooling Act also provides for the opportunity to begin primary school early


For special needs schools the corresponding provisions apply for final certificates as are laid down in the certificate regulation for compulsory schools: At the end of each school year, pupils receive an end-of-year report from the school, in which the grades for the respective school subject are indicated. Performance is rated from 1 to 5 (“very good”, “good”, “satisfactory”, “passed” and “fail”). The following are assessed:

  • determination of the pupils’ involvement in class;
  • oral performance appraisals (exams and exercises);
  • written performance appraisals (tests);
  • written exams (tests and dictations);
  • practical performance appraisals;
  • graphical performance appraisals.

See also chapters 5.3., 6.3.

For pupils with special educational needs, the curriculum assignment (in which subjects teaching was done according to which curriculum) has to be included as clauses in the certificates with corresponding additional comments.

If a child is taught according to the curriculum of special needs school for severely disabled children, there is a description of the achieved development status instead of an assessment indicated in numbers.