Definition of the Target Groups
Special education may be considered appropriate with children who need very specific organisation of studies and implementation of resource-intensive support measures.
The following special groups may be formed in preschool child care institutions for children with special developmental needs:
- groups for children with physical disabilities;
- groups for children with specific developmental disorders;
- groups for children with moderate, severe and profound mental disabilities;
- groups for children with multiple disabilities;
- groups for children with pervasive developmental disorders.
In order to achieve the goals formulated in the student’s curriculum and provide the student with the required support, study assistance or level-based groups or special classes may be formed in addition to ordinary classes. Studies in a study assistance group, level-based group or special class must be reasoned based on the needs of the student and limited in terms of the time, and attention must be paid to the recommendations of the coordinator of the studies of the student with special needs or those of the external advisory team or both. Upon teaching a student who needs special support in an ordinary class, the recommendations of the external advisory team must be taken into account. The head of school decides the admission to a study assistance or level-based group or special class.
For a student who, due to severe or persistent mental disorder, has been referred to a long-term rehabilitation service, one-to-one teaching can be applied. Although in some cases the application of one-to-one teaching is the only option, it must be used for the minimum time needed. In any event, it is important to try, if possible, to involve the student in the work of a smaller group and also in the lessons of an ordinary class.
Admission Requirements and Choice of School
The Ministry of Education and Research arranges the making of recommendations for the purpose of organising teaching and education and for the implementation of the support services. Before making the recommendations, specialists of an external advisory team assess thoroughly coping of the child as well as the child’s need for support in the education system and learning and teaching environment. Where necessary, specialists of the external advisory team recommend additional surveys or evaluations to be carried out. The external advisory team cooperates with the specialist involved in the management of the case of a child or family at the educational institution or local authority level.
The recommendations of an advisory team are based on the pedagogical-psychological evaluation of the child previously carried out and the results of the surveys by the specialists as well as other available relevant information regarding the child. At least three members of the team representing different specialties shall participate in the making of a recommendation. Upon making the recommendation, the external advisory team shall involve education, social and health specialists.
According to the recommendation of the external advisory team and with the written parental consent, the school provides the student with enhanced support or special support, studies at home for health reasons, non-stationary studies with regard to the student who is under the obligation to attend school, reduces and replaces the learning outcomes provided for in the national curriculum in one or more subjects, recommends the application of studies for students with mild learning difficulties, students with moderate learning difficulties and students with severe and profound learning difficulties, or releases the student from having to study a mandatory subject.
For a student whose special educational needs due to the student’s state of health do not enable the student to participate in the studies carried out in the premises of the school, possibilities for acquiring basic or general secondary education outside school (at home, in a day centre, etc.) are created by the rural municipality or the city government of residence of the student. Home educating for health reasons is applied to the students with severe functional impairment, illness or disability, or whose health status may be the reason thereof, and to those who cannot be provided with education by the school due to the school’s lack of opportunities and conditions required by the special educational needs. The school applies home educating for health reasons on the basis of a request by the parent and according to the recommendation of an external advisory team.
A parent shall participate in the developmental conversation held with his or her child at least once an academic year. On the basis of the developmental conversation, further study and development goals are agreed.
Age Levels and Grouping of Pupils
A child with special educational needs is admitted to integration or a special group on the basis of a written request by the parent and according to the recommendation of the external advisory team.
In a group for children with special needs of a preschool child care institution, the number of children is as follows:
- up to 12 children in a group for children with physical disabilities;
- up to 12 children in an opportunity group for children with specific developmental disorders;
- up to 7 children in a development group for children with intellectual disabilities;
- up to 10 children in a group for children with sensory disabilities;
- up to 4 children in a group for children with multiple disabilities;
- up to 4 children in a group for children with pervasive developmental disorders.
In an integration group, the maximum number of children is smaller than in other groups of the preschool child care institution, with the calculation that one child with special needs fills three places.
The students in need of support can study in an ordinary class; part-time individual studies may be organised for them, or they may be guaranteed the opportunity to study in a special class or at a school for children with special educational needs. The number of students in a remedial instruction group, group of a specific level and special class is determined by the head of school, taking into account the nature of the special educational needs. In a special class, the studies of students provided with enhanced support are carried out with up to 12 students and in the case of students provided with special support with up to six students. Studies in a study assistance group, level-based group or special class must be reasoned based on the needs of the student and limited in terms of the time.
Teaching and schooling in preschool child care institutions is based on the national curriculum for pre-school child care institutions. Children have the right to get assistance from teachers in acquiring the content determined by the curricula. The principles and arrangement of supporting students with special needs are established in the curriculum of a child care institution.
In basic schools the national curriculum for basic schools and in upper secondary schools the national curriculum for upper secondary schools apply to all students (incl. those with special educational needs) as a general framework curriculum. In addition, a regulation of the Government of the Republic has approved the simplified national curriculum for basic schools, which provides the standard of basic education for students with intellectual disability who, by a recommendation of the external advisory team and with the approval of a parent, study pursuant to the simplified national curriculum for basic schools, in classes for students with moderate learning difficulties or in classes of students with severe or profound learning difficulties acquiring basic education.
When teaching a student, a school may change or adjust the time, contents, process and environment of study. Where the changes or adjustments substantially increase or decrease the weekly workload or intensity of studies in comparison with the school curriculum or reduce or replace the learning outcomes provided for in the national curricula, an individual curriculum shall be drawn up for the student.
Where the individual curriculum drawn up for a student with special educational needs provides for reduction or replacement of the learning outcomes set out in the national curriculum or the release from learning a compulsory subject, the individual curriculum may be implemented on the basis of a recommendation of the external advisory team.
For all students with moderate learning difficulties and students with severe and profound learning difficulties, an individual curriculum is compiled to take into account their abilities and developmental potential.
The national curriculum for basic schools provides for the cases where a school has the right to implement exceptions for supporting a student’s individual development as follows:
- with students with mobility disability, in basic school a nominal period of study of 10 years may be provided for on the basis of a school curriculum or an individual curriculum.
- with students with speech impairments, in basic school a nominal period of study of 10 years may be provided for on the basis of a school curriculum or an individual curriculum, study load for language and literature studies may be increased and foreign language B dropped.
- with students with hearing impairments, in basic school a nominal period of study of 11 years may be provided for on the basis of a school curriculum or an individual curriculum, study load for language and literature studies may be increased and the second (B) foreign language dropped. The additional language classes may be replaced by sign language courses.
- with students with visual impairments, in basic school a nominal period of study of 10 years may be provided for on the basis of a school curriculum or an individual curriculum, and study load for technology studies may be increased.
Additional studies may be offered to the students who have graduated from basic school under the simplified national curriculum for basic schools and the students who have graduated from basic school under the national curriculum for basic schools but, due to their special educational needs, need to be provided with additional preparation and support in order to continue with their studies or move to the labour market. Students who have obtained a basic school graduation certificate in the same year and who are not ready to continue their studies or enter the labour market or who were not admitted to the desired educational institution are admitted to additional studies. The duration of additional studies is one academic year.
Teaching Methods and Materials
In ensuring the availability of education to students with special needs, the individuality of each student is considered. Instruction is ensured in a manner that it corresponds to the individual needs of a student and develops students' physical and mental activity. Students with visual impairments are supplied with books in the Braille system and with other study materials. In teaching deaf students and students with hearing impairments, sign language is used in combination with oral instruction. With both visually impaired and hearing-impaired children, IT support and specifically developed study facilities are of importance. In the case of students with movement disabilities, adaptation of the learning environment and provision of support services are used to guarantee the acquisition of education. In the case of students with severe and multiple disabilities, various methods such as imitation learning, modelling, study passes etc. are used.
With regard to students with more severe disabilities implementation of a rehabilitation plan is guaranteed where possible.
In teaching students with intellectual disabilities, special methodologies and specifically developed study aids are used.
The state is required to provide Braille textbooks, adjusted study material and specific study facilities, all of which are free for a student.
In preschool education, study materials that encourage development are essential (construction games, puzzles, plastic construction toys (e.g., Legos) respective games). A methodical handbook has been developed for teachers for assessment of students and offering support for their development.
In vocational education, an educational institution compiles a curriculum for a special group (small study group) and an individual curriculum for a person with special needs who is studying in a mainstream or special group; prior to that, a student evaluation is held where the student's additional needs and strengths are identified. Following the national curriculum for the corresponding vocation or profession, the special needs of the person and his or her rehabilitation plan, communication support (sign language interpreter, speech synthesiser, etc.) and different kinds of study support (ICT support, adapted study materials, individual adapted study materials and study materials in simplified language) are used. For a student with special needs, a transfer plan is developed to support the transfer from vocational school to work. In teaching students with special educational needs, information technology solutions are used.
Progression of Pupils
At least once a year and where the time limit of application of the support prescribed by the external advisory team has expired, the coordinator of the studies of the student with special educational needs assesses, in cooperation with the teachers and the support specialists, the impact of application of the recommended support and makes proposals for further steps.
The results of the pedagogical-psychological assessment carried out for identification of special educational needs, additional observations and recommendations of teachers regarding the strengths and weaknesses of a student, recommendations of the support specialists of the school, test and examination results, and the recommendations of the external advisory team, the applied services and support, and assessment of their effectiveness are entered in the map of observation of the student’s individual development.
In case of students with special needs, individual curricula are often used, making it possible to evaluate the acquired knowledge and skills, taking into account the individual characteristics of a student. As a rule, students are not made to repeat a school year, the period of study may be extended to enable the students to finish the year or course.
For a student with special educational needs for whom the learning outcomes provided for in the national curriculum have been reduced or replaced according to a school curriculum or an individual curriculum based on a recommendation of the external advisory team, the basis for graduation is achieving the learning outcomes specified in the school curriculum or the individual curriculum. Students with special educational needs have the right to take basic school final examinations on special conditions. If the head of a school informs in advance the institutions organising examinations, one or more of the following special conditions in examining a basic school graduate with special educational needs may be applied:
- allowing extra time of up to 15 minutes per an astronomical hour;
- carrying out an examination in a separate room;
- allowing a break of up to 10 minutes per an astronomical hour;
- an answer to be written down by a support person if the student cannot write;
- examination questions and text to be read out loud to a visually impaired student or a student with dyslexia;
- written instructions about the organisation of the examination to be given to a hearing-impaired student;
- use of study materials (dictionaries, formulas) by students with learning difficulties;
- specification, restructuring or oral explanation of the instructions and the text of examination tasks to a student with learning difficulties;
- differentiated assessment of the examination paper in mother tongue taken by a student with dyslexia;
- use of a sign language translator with a hearing-impaired student.
By the consent of the institution organising examinations, the head of a school may decide to implement the following special conditions for basic school graduates with special educational needs:
- allowing use of computer without speller with a student who cannot write or whose handwriting is hard to read due to the special need;
- amendment of the font size of the examination paper or drawing up an examination paper in braille with a visually impaired student;
- preparing and conducting an examination paper without listening and oral section with a hearing-impaired student.
- conducting an examination paper without oral section with a student with severe speech impairment.
Students with mild learning difficulties and students whose learning outcomes prescribed in the national curriculum for basic schools have been reduced by a recommendation of a counselling team in the examination subjects take the basic school final examinations on the basis of the material prepared by the school.
Students undergoing coping and nursing study do not take final exams.
Irrespective of the curriculum, all students receive an identical final certificate. Students studying according to the national curriculum for basic schools and students undergoing simplified study receive a final certificate if their annual grades are positive and the required final examinations have been passed at least with a satisfactory result. Upon request by a parent, a basic school final certificate may also be given to a student whose annual or final exam grade is “weak” or “unsatisfactory” in up to two subjects. In coping and nursing study, a basic school final certificate is given to a student who has passed the individual curriculum compiled for him or her. The basic school graduation certificate will specify according to which curriculum the student has studied.
Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act
National curriculum for preschool child care institutions
National curriculum for basic schools
Simplified national curriculum for basic schools
The list of data to be submitted to the external advisory team for making a recommendation, and conditions of and procedure for submission of an application and making a recommendation by the external advisory team
Basis and procedure for admission of children to and exclusion from special preschool child care institution or special group
Conditions of and procedure for home educating and in-hospital teaching
Conditions of and procedure for preparing, compiling, conducting and assessing national standard-determining tests and basic school and upper secondary school final examinations, and for analysing the results of national standard-determining tests, unified basic school final examinations and state examinations