Definition of the target groups
In Austria there are many initiatives and measures which pursue the goal of supporting children and youths with disadvantages and learning deficits. These measures are aimed in particular at the following target groups:
- Children with insufficient knowledge of the educational language German,
- Pupils who have learning difficulties,
- Pupils/apprentices who have left the education system early or are at risk of dropping out from school or training,
- Migrants, children seeking asylum or refugee children (this target group is also taken into account in the aforementioned target groups).
Specific support measures
Children with insufficient knowledge of the educational language German
Since 2010, half-day attendance of kindergarten has been mandatory. It aims also to ensure that children who do not have German as their mother tongue can make up for their language deficits in German. The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research has developed a package of measures for the early language support of children in childcare establishments. With the agreement pursuant to Art. 15a B-VG on elementary education, the intensification of early language support for 4-year-olds in elementary educational institutions as well as a standardised language assessment instrument (BESK (DaZ) KOMPAKT), which determines whether a child has a need for German support, have also been introduced. If there is a lack of knowledge of German, children should be encouraged in their linguistic abilities to such an extent that they are able to master the language skills as far as possible when they enter school.
Pupils who have learning difficulties
- Remedial teaching: According to § 8 of the School Organisation Act this is a non-assessable course for pupils who, in compulsory subjects, need an additional learning programme because they do not fully meet the requirements in key areas or have transition difficulties after changing school. Remedial teaching is basically stipulated in all curricula of compulsory school.
- Individual learning support: At the upper secondary level, i.e. after compulsory school there is individual learning support (Individuelle Lernbegleitung or ILB, cf. also chapter 12.4) instead of remedial teaching. Similar to remedial teaching, this is to support and monitor pupils with learning deficits and/or learning difficulties. ILB is not subject-dependent, however.
- Early warning system: Since 1997 the so-called early warning system has been legally enshrined in § 19 of the School Education Act. This stipulates that parents or legal guardians have to be informed in good time if their son or daughter is performing insufficiently at school in order to take corresponding early support measures to counteract an impending negative annual assessment in a compulsory subject.
Pupils/apprentices who are at risk of dropping out from school or training
- Youth coaching scheme: Since the autumn of 2013 there has been the so-called youth coaching scheme throughout Austria. Youth coaching is a counselling and support service from the 9th year of schooling onwards. Its goal is to identify young people at risk of marginalisation and early school leaving from the 9th year of schooling onwards, advise and if necessary support them over a longer time so that the appropriate educational career is found for them, based on an individual development plan.
- Coaching for apprentices: It aims to prevent or avoid problems in dual vocational education and training which can lead to apprentices dropping out early from their apprenticeship or having a negative final result. Apprentices can apply for coaching for apprentices at the apprenticeship office of the economic chamber of the respective province. Coaching for apprentices is divided into three stages: initial discussion, in-depth needs-oriented support and case management. The apprentice’s concerns are discussed with the coach and ways of independently dealing with questions and problems are set out.
- Supra-company apprenticeship training: For young people who, despite all efforts, cannot find a company-based apprenticeship place there is the possibility of obtaining a vocational qualification in supra-company apprenticeship training (Überbetriebliche Lehrausbildung, ÜBA).
- Extension of the apprenticeship period and partial qualification: It aims in particular to enable young people with special educational needs and people with disabilities to undergo apprenticeship training and to support them in apprenticeship training. Apprenticeship training can be extended by either one or a maximum of two years or can be limited to the acquisition of a partial qualification. Apprentices are supervised and supported by so-called vocational training assistants.
- Production schools: Sometimes young people lack fundamental qualifications and social skills in order to switch directly from school to apprenticeship training or the labour market. Production schools, which were launched in 2008, provide the opportunity to obtain these foundations and to become familiar with different training pathways. They are targeted at young people up to the age of 21 or up to the age of 24 (in the case of young people with disabilities) who want to complete a VET programme and whose preferred career choice seems clear at the moment.
- "Training up to the age of 18": Since the school year 2017/18, every young person has to complete an upper secondary education or training programme after compulsory schooling. The training obligation can be fulfilled by various means, e.g. by attending a general or vocational school, by apprenticeship training (also in the form of supra-company training) or by participating in other education or training offers or preparatory measures for the labour market. The training obligation up to the age of 18 is intended to increase young people’s chances of participating in economic and social life. (cf. chapter 2.1.)
Migrants, children seeking asylum and refugee children
- Transition stage for refugees: It is established in selected schools for intermediate vocational education and colleges for higher vocational education throughout Austria and is intended to facilitate entry into the Austrian education system for young refugees who are no longer required to attend school. This measure aimes at asylum seekers between the ages of 16 and 24.
- Mobile intercultural teams (MIT): They come to Austrian schools as required and help with the integration of refugee children, e.g. prevention work, crisis intervention, support for teachers, school heads and school supervision, etc. The MIT are managed by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (cf. chapter 12.4.).
- Literacy: For school-age children who cannot read or write, literacy courses are held in individual provinces (e.g. Vienna).
- Model projects for extensive language support: The aim of these projects is to develop location-specific models of extensive language support for (pre-)school children and lateral entrants, for example in the form of intensive courses lasting for several months (e.g. language coaching for recently immigrated children) in addition to school attendance (compulsory schooling). These targeted support offers aim to provide the basis for learning German as the language of education and, by providing individual support, they aim to enable children to follow lessons sufficiently.
- Language support classes: German support classes and courses can be attended by pupils who have been admitted to the first school grade or have just arrived in Austria. Please see here.
- Mother-tongue instruction: At all compulsory schools it is possible to offer mother-tongue instruction in a language other than German. The aim of these lessons, which can be attended on a voluntary basis, is to consolidate bilingualism.