Definition of the target group(s)
Special education constitutes a number of educational services for students with disabilities and/or special educational needs followed by a medical diagnosis and students with special educational needs.
The state ensures and continually improves the compulsory nature of special education emphasizing on the fact that it constitutes an integral part of compulsory and free of charge public education, provided to disabled individuals of all ages and of all grades and levels of education.
Pursuant to law 3699/2008, students with disabilities and/or special educational needs include those manifesting significant learning difficulties during an entire or limited period of their school life due to sensory, mental, cognitive, developmental, psychological and neuropsychological disorders, affecting school adaptation and school learning process, based on an interdisciplinary evaluation.
This category of students includes individuals presenting mental disabilities, sensory impairments in vision and hearing, mobility disabilities, chronic incurable diseases, speech disorders, special learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia, dyscalculia), attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity, diffuse developmental disorders (autism spectrum) and multiple disabilities.
Students with special educational needs also include students the ones with complex cognitive emotional and social difficulties, delinquent behaviour due to abuse, parental neglect and abandonment or due to domestic violence. The category of students with special educational needs may also include students with one or more special mental skills and talents.
Students with low school performance associated with external factors, such as linguistic or cultural particularities do not fall under the category of students with special educational needs.
Specific support measures
The educational policy on the education of students with disabilities and/or special educational needs targets their integration into mainstream schools by providing suitable support structures and services.
Students’ disability and special educational needs are investigated and ascertained by the Disability Certification Centres (KEPA), the Supreme Health Disability Certification Committees of law 4058/2012, the Centres for Interdisciplinary Assessment, Counseling and Support (KEDASYs), the Community Centres for the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents as well as the Centres for Mental Health. The Disability Certification Centres, the Supreme Health Disability Certification Committees, the Community Centres for the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents and the Mental Health Centres have no competence over the issues which fall exclusively within the competence area of the Centres for Interdisciplinary Assessment, Counseling and Support (KEDASYs).
KEDASYs bear the exclusive responsibility for the placement, enrolment, transfer and attendance in an appropriate school unit for students with disabilities or/and special educational needs, as well as for the suitable context of individualized support such as parallel support or attendance in a school integration class of mainstream education.
The evaluation report is foreseen to be accompanied by a Personalized Education Programme, which includes key axes and general guidelines. The formation of the basic axes of the personalized education programme is completed in collaboration with the parent or guardian of the student with disabilities or/and special educational needs or the students themselves, where this becomes possible. The final evaluation report and the main points of the personalized education programme are communicated to the parents or guardians. As regards the time of re-evaluation, this is determined by KEDASYs according to the type and degree of the student’s identified educational needs and learning difficulties. If the re-evaluation time is not specified, the reports are permanently valid.
Based on the individual evaluation and the recommendation of KEDASYs, the education of individuals with disabilities and/or special educational needs may take place in a mainstream school, where the following schooling options are available.
Specifically, students may attend:
- An ordinary mainstream school classroom, in case of students with mild learning difficulties, supported by the classroom teacher, who cooperates on a case by case basis with the KEDASYs and with the Coordinators of the Educational Work of general and special / inclusive education
- A mainstream school classroom, with concurrent support-inclusive education by special education teachers, when this is imperative by the type and degree of the special educational needs
- Specially organised and suitably staffed integration classes, operating in the general and vocational education schools, offering two types of programmes:
- Combined mainstream and specialised programme (up to 15 teaching hours weekly), as determined by the competent KEDASY for students with milder special educational needs.
- Specialised group or individualised programme of extended hours, as determined by the competent KEDASY for students with more severe special educational needs, not accounted for by separate special education schools corresponding to the kind and degree of needs. The specialised programme may be independent from the common one, in accordance with students’ needs.
Integration classes aim at creating a fully inclusive school environment for students with special educational needs. Teachers of integration classes shall support students inside their school environment whilst working closely with classroom teachers to differentiate activities and teaching practices and introduce adjustments into the learning content and teaching environment (law 4368/2016). This is achieved through the implementation of special education programmes, teaching and learning content adjustments and the use of special equipment, including e-equipment, software, logistics and other solutions provided for by KEDASYs.
For students attending primary and secondary schools of general and vocational education, with a disability and/ or special educational needs diagnosed by a competent public body (KEDASYs, Medical Education Centers), second foreign language progress is not assessed in the general mark of school grade promotion or school exit, upon the relevant request of those exercising parental care and guidance
In primary education integration classes, students are supported by teachers with the specialisation PE61 or PE60 trained in special education for nipiagogeia (pre-primary schools) and by teachers with the specialisation PE71 or PE70 trained in special education for dimotika scholeia (primary schools). In secondary education integration classes, students are supported by teachers with the specialisations PE02, PE03 and PE04 trained in special education. Teachers of other specialisations may also be placed in integration classes for students with visual or hearing impairments.
Parallel support is provided to primary education by teachers with the specialisation PE60 and PE70 trained in special education, PE61 and PE71. In secondary education, parallel support is provided by teachers with the specialisation PE02, PE03 and PE04 trained in special education. If these teachers are not sufficient, other teachers with the specialisation PE60, PE70, PE02, PE03 and PE04 may also take part in these programmes. These teachers are obliged as a priority to participate in training and specialisation programmes implemented by the competent authorities for teacher training.
Not self-served students attending general education schools or integration classes are supported by specialised auxiliary personnel depending on their disability and their special educational needs or by a school nurse following a medical diagnosis by a state hospital.
In cases of co-housed or neighbouring schools, integration classes are conjoined with a maximum of 12 pupils per integration class.
Blind students and students with impaired vision without mental retardation or other special educational needs can attend, based on the expert opinion of the competent KEDASY, the classes of general education schools supported by the class teacher and in each single case with the support of members of the special educational staff (EEP) with the specialisation PE31 or members of the special assistance staff (EBP).
By virtue of law 4823/2021, the primary aim of the Centers for Interdisciplinary Assessment, Counseling and Support (KEDASYs) is to support school units and the Special Vocational Education and Training Workshops of the areas falling under their competency in order to ensure equal access to education to all students independently and to defend their psychosocial development and progress.
KEDASYs, as bodies with an educational direction are competent on the following levels:
- The level of exploring and evaluating educational and psychosocial needs
- That of focused educational and psychosocial interventions and actions of vocational guidance
- That of supporting school work in total
- Of informing and training
- Raising the level of social awareness.
KEDASYs conduct individual evaluations and issue assessment reports – diagnoses on the following situations:
- When relevant needs are made obvious after actions undertaken to explore educational and psychosocial needs. In these cases, students for whom there is evidence for special educational needs or students facing other kinds of psychosocial difficulties undergo further evaluation from KEDASYs. Especially if it is found necessary after the completion of a short supporting programme.
- After a recommendation of the Committees of Interdisciplinary Support, when it is found that students need further evaluating and diagnosing, despite the short supporting programme they had at school.
- At the recommendation of the students’ educational support team, in school units where there are no Committees of Interdisciplinary Support, proposed after an applied short support programme.
- At the request of a parent to the competent KEDASY.
KEDASYs, besides individual evaluation and support, also examine requests made by school teachers’ boards, when it is part of their duty.
KEDASYs support school units for the preparation and implementation of short-term intervention programs, the specialization of the main axes of students’ Personalized Educational Programmes as well as the support and monitoring of the educational and psychosocial progress of students.
Operation of the the Committee of Interdisciplinary Support (EDY)
Educational evaluation and support of students and the school community, within the school’s premises is undertaken by the Committee of Interdisciplinary Support ,which operates in every school unit belonging to the School Network of Educational Support (SDEYs).
SDEYs are founded upon decision of the Regional Educational Director and they are constituted by school units and training workshops of primary and secondary general, special and vocational education with the purpose to promote co-operation, as well as to coordinate the work of school units, so as to ensure equal access to education of all students and to promote their psychosocial health in total.
A Special Education School Unit (SMEAE) is the support centre of every School Network of Educational Support (SDEY).
The Committee of Interdisciplinary Support consists of the following members:
- the school head, as president, with a deputy his legal deputy in his duties as a director,
- one (1) teacher of pre-school or primary or secondary education (as provided for in article 21 of Law 3699/2008) who serves in an integration class or in the parallel support -inclusive education of the Special Education Support Center of the SDEY to which the school unit belongs, or equivalent specialisations of EAE provided for in article 19 par. 1 of Law 3699/2008
- one (1) psychologist (PE23 specialisation) who serves at the Special Education Support Center of the SDEY to which the school unit belongs and
- one (1) social worker (PE30 specialisation) who serves at the Special education Support Center of the SDEY to which the school unit belongs, with their deputies.
The Committees of Interdisciplinary Support also (Ministerial Decision 17812/Γ6):
- Conduct evaluations of the difficulties and possible educational and psycho-social or other relevant impediments in student learning.
- Support the teachers in issues like paedagogical response to the diversity of the student population.
- Support the school community in issues of equal access to education and in tackling phenomena like early school leaving and school violence.
In school units where there are no Committees of Interdisciplinary Support, a student educational support group, which is assisted by Centres for Interdisciplinary Assessment, Counseling and Support (KEDASYs), is set up to carry out the committee’s task. It consists of the school head or deputy school head, the teacher in charge of communicating with the competent KEDASY and the teacher in charge of the respective class. During the meetings of the educational support groups both the students' parents as well as the students themselves, if possible, are invited to express their views on the design of the individualised education programmes. They are also invited in any other case that is deemed appropriate.
Supportive measures are also the following regulations:
- Braille is officially recognized as the writing method for blind students.
- The Greek Sign Language is recognized as the first language of the deaf and hard of hearing students and Modern Greek is recognized as their second language, which is received and pronounced in written form, while its oral perception and expression constitutes an additional social choice of deaf students. Greek Sign Language and Modern Greek are recognized as equal to each other, and therefore the appropriate language pedagogical approach is bilingual education.
- For autistic students with or without reason, Modern Greek is recognized as the official language, which is received and pronounced in its oral form, in its written form and/or in the form of symbols-images. A desirable condition for the placement of teachers and special educational staff (EEP) in the special school units for autism, in addition to the other qualifications, is the specialization and training of teachers in modified-assisted forms of communication.
Pursuant to law 3699/2008, the Ministry of Education establishes an advisory committee
- to monitor the physical accessibility of people with disabilities to the educational and administrative structures of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs
- and to monitor the digital accessibility of educational materials and websites.