Definition of the target group(s)
Laws 113(I)/1999 - 69(I)/2001 specify that the following categories are recognized as pupils or students in need of special support:
● Any child who has serious learning or special learning difficulties, or who has difficulty in adapting or functioning, due to his/her physical or mental condition;
● Any child whose learning, adaptation or functioning skills are impaired compared to other children of his/her age;
● Any child who suffers from an incapacity which prevents him/her from using educational facilities of the kind that are generally available at school for pupils of his/her age.
Specific support measures
Special educational support within mainstream education can be provided at any public school, pre-primary, primary or secondary. Public schools are obligated to adapt their facilities to suit children with special educational needs. For the vast majority of pupils with special needs support is provided within a class at the child’s local school, which receives all of the necessary modifications and resources.
In cases where full-time attendance in a mainstream class is not appropriate for the child’s needs, special tuition in a resource room for specified periods per week may be recommended, or alternatively, attendance at a special unit within a mainstream school. Such special units offer the opportunity to provide more intensive special educational support to a small number of pupils (usually a maximum of six), whilst maintaining contact and a certain level of integration with a mainstream class.
Staff members in the special units include the special unit teacher and pupil assistants who work in close cooperation with the teacher. Speech therapists are often placed in schools offering support to special unit pupils as well as mainstream pupils with language problems. Special educational support staff who are either fully assigned to mainstream schools, run special units or are peripatetic, are considered to belong to the teaching staff of the school. When a member of the special education support staff is in class with a pupil, he/she must cooperate and interact with the child’s classroom teacher in the development and delivery of the Individual Educational Programme (IEP) of the child.
In addition to the special education support staff, there are coordinators of special education (Συνδετικοί Λειτουργοί), whose role is to offer guidance in mainstream schools, special units and separate schools of special education. They offer advice and support to special education teachers, mainstream teachers, and administrators and they report to the Inspector for Special Education (Inspectorate of Primary Education). One of their main responsibilities is the development of the child’s IEP in cooperation with a multi-disciplinary group and the parents of the child.
Children with special educational needs attending mainstream schools follow the normal curriculum, which may be adjusted to suit their particular needs. During the development of the child’s IEP, the staff will make every effort to ensure that the child is fully involved in all class and school activities. If a child requires individual assistance outside the classroom, this is provided so as not to restrict access to any subject of the curriculum. However, it is possible to remove some subjects from the curriculum, which may be deemed as unsuitable for the child.
In the secondary school special support setting, children are graded in the same way as their peers, unless they have special permission from the District Committee for Special Education and Training for their evaluation to be carried out in a different way. The Committee can also give instructions for evaluation material and procedures to be modified in order to facilitate the specific needs of the child, according to the philosophy that special educational needs should not impede the expression of individual abilities.
At the gymnasium level (see Chapter 6), the progression from one grade to the next depends on the results of examinations. Children graduating at the gymnasium level sit examinations with provisions designed to accommodate their disability without altering the validity of the examination. They graduate with the same school leaving certificate (apolytirio) as their peers. Students with special educational needs who are not able to sit the examinations can be classed as ‘attendees’ and be promoted without examinations, issued with an informal leaving certificate.
Children who attend special units within schools follow the same timetable as the mainstream school and, depending on their individual needs, may join their designated class for as many subjects as possible (depending on their IEP). The amount of time spent in the special unit depends on the severity of the learning difficulty which the child presents. This will also determine the amount of differentiation that the child’s IEP will have from the curriculum followed by his/her peer group.