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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: 24 March 2023

Definition of the target group(s)

The expert opinion of the expert committee examining the children, pupils includes the statement whether the SEN child, pupil should learn in an educational institution, class, group, course established for this purpose according to the type of impairment, or the they can also participate in kindergarten education, school education, dormitory education together with other children, as well as it also includes the statement whether the SEN pupil can meet its study obligations only by going to school or only in accordance with an individual study schedule. Institutional provision for the SEN children, pupils, whose education can be implemented more successfully in an educational institution established for this purpose, is ensured for them by the following institutions:

Special education, conductive education institution, which is an education institution only providing for SEN children, pupils and can be used based on expert committee’s opinion.

Skills development school, which provides preparation for starting an independent life, as well as the acquisition of work processes needing simple training and allowing employment for pupils with medium severe intellectual disability, as well as it provides the knowledge needed for employment and starting an independent life for pupils with slight intellectual disability, being unable to participate in VET.   

Admission requirements and choice of school

Physical, sensory, intellectual and speech disabilities are ascertained by expert committees with competences at national and county levels. The expert and rehabilitation committee examining sight, hearing and speech operate at national level while those examining learning ability operate in Budapest and in each county. The head of the committee is a special teacher with professional skills corresponding to the type of disability and its members are psychologists and specialists. They draw up an expert opinion on the children or student examined based on which they make a proposal for the institution providing kindergarten education or school education, as well as for the specific requirements for education and teaching of the child or student.

The expert committees may make a proposal not only for admission of children in special classes but also for their transferring from special classes into the classes of the integrating majority school. The parents of students with special education needs have the right to intervene in the choice of institution in which their children would be educated.

Physical, sensory, intellectual and speech disabilities may only be established by expert and rehabilitation committees examining only learning abilities and by national committees engaged in expert and rehabilitation activities based on a complex – medical, teaching, special teaching and psychological – examination. The detailed rules of procedure are laid down in the Ministerial Decree.

Examination is started at the request and with the agreement of the parents, whose presence is required for conducting the examination except for the case when they stay in an unknown place. The committees established for diagnosing physical, sensory (visual and hearing) and speech impairment operate at national level. Expert and rehabilitation committees examining learning abilities operate in each county and in Budapest (to establish or exclude diagnoses classified as the collective category of intellectual disability and “permanent and severe disability of the education and learning process due to disorders of psychic development”).

Based on the screening and examination of the disability, a proposal is drawn up for the child’s or student’s care in the framework of special education as well as for the way, form and place of care and for the pedagogical assistance service related to the care.

The proposal for the type of education to be provided is made based on the criteria underlying the classification of the individual types of disabilities.

The committee’s expert opinion has to:

  • establish or exclude disability and the substantiating facts;
  • establish that a child may participate in kindergarten and school education only in the education institution established for this purpose and suitable for his/her type of disability or he/she may also do so together with other children and students in integrated form.
  • establish, as the case may be, that he/she may attend compulsory education only by going to school or only in accordance with an individual study schedule;
  • establish, as the case may be, that compulsory education may be performed in the form of developmental education;
  • include the specific requirements for education of the child;
  • make a proposal for the institution to provide education.

The institution is chosen by the parents from those complying with the conditions for education of the child or student concerned. If a child is with special education needs, the parents’ freedom of choice of institution is restricted to the choice between kindergartens and schools providing the appropriate conditions for the education of the child, on which institutions information is given by the committee after conducting the examination. Parents’ co-operation is not only a right but also an obligation. The provisions of the Constitution stipulate that the parents have the right to choose the form of education to be given to their children but at the same time, they are obliged to ensure the upbringing of their children, including educating them.

Provision of the child, pupil according to the expert opinion may be ensured if in the case of an underage pupil the parent, or in the case of a full age pupil the pupil agrees with the content of the expert opinion. If the parent or pupil does not agree with the content of the expert opinion, the expert committee shall inform the competent maintenance centre of school district thereon, which will initiate the revision of the expert opinion.

The parent, or in the case of a full age pupil, the pupil may directly initiate the revision of the expert opinion as well.

 At the same time, development of a child may not depend on the parents’ will or approval exclusively, therefore the maintenance centre of school may order the parents – in the framework of public administration procedure – to appear at the expert examination with their child and then to enrol him/her in the appropriate education institution. The parents’ attention shall be called to the possibility and obligation of initiating a public administration procedure, as well as they shall be informed on the methods and forms of legal remedy.

A public administration procedure may be initiated, in the interest of the child or student, by:

  • the public education institution or the family protection institution if the parents do not accept the necessity of the examination;
  • the expert and rehabilitation committee if the parents fail to appear at or to co-operate at the examination and/or the parents do not agree with the findings of the expert opinion or its forwarding;
  • the head of the designated education institution if the child is not enrolled or taken to the institution.

The maintenance centre of school which field of activity is in the child’s, pupil’s, or parents’ place of residence shall be competent to make the dominant decision in the case. The children and students who are not able to attend compulsory education at their place of residence participate in school education either by daily commuting – which is assisted by school buses only at some locations, so usually they have to use public transport – or by weekly accommodation in student hostels (from Monday to Friday). The family receives an aid for travelling in both cases. Institutions available for mentally disabled children operate in the counties and those for children with physical or sensory disabilities operate in larger territorial units, i.e. in individual regions but, for example, those for blind, partially sighted or physically handicapped students operate at two or three places in the country.

Age levels and grouping of pupils

The provision of children, students with special education needs starts from the day their disability was identified. From the age of 0 to 3 (or maximum 5) they participate in early intervention, from the age of 3 they attend kindergarten education and from the age of 6 or 7 they attend basic school education. The law summarises the pedagogical conditions of education and development to be provided on a compulsory basis. The generally compulsory conditions can be amended in several fields by the public education act, adapted to the needs of SEN children, or it can be supplemented by extra services that shall be established and made available for them. The law also enables children with severe or multiple disabilities to participate in compulsory education.

Early intervention

The task of early intervention and care is to provide complex intervention and prevention in early childhood from the time when eligibility for provision was stated. The expert committee makes a proposal for starting early intervention and care. If the child is over 3, the child may participate in early intervention and care if not allowed to join kindergarten education based on the expert opinion of the expert committee. Early intervention and care may be implemented in individual sessions or in group sessions with maximum six children.  

The task can be carried out in various forms: home-based provision, care in crèche, special needs counselling, early intervention and care centre etc.

Developmental education, developmental education-teaching

Developmental education is a complex special education implemented based on the individual education plan of the child, whose task is to prepare the child for developmental education-teaching, by involving the parent and providing consultation for them.

Developmental education is an integrated process organised not by grades but in accordance with developmental phases of students. It is based on the individual development plans determining the personalised development, education and rehabilitation programme. Similarly to mainstream education, it follows the schedule of the school year.

Kindergarten education and school education

SEN children may join kindergarten education from the age of three as well in a special education or conductive education institution or in a kindergarten group established according to the type of disability. These children may continue their primary and secondary school studies in special education or conductive education institutions, or in a school group established according to the type of their disabilities.

The rule that when calculating the average headcount of a group or class, SEN children shall be taken into account as two or three children, depending on the disability providing the basis for special education needs shall be applied in all fields of kindergarten and school education.

A special education, conductive education institution is an education institution only providing for SEN children, pupils and can be used based on expert committee’s opinion.

A skills development school provides preparation for starting an independent life, as well as the acquisition of work processes needing simple training and allowing employment for pupils with medium severe intellectual disability, as well as it provides the knowledge needed for employment and starting an independent life for pupils with slight intellectual disability, being unable to participate in VET. Skills development schools have four grades.

If the SEN child has severe and multiple disabilities, the SEN child participates in developmental education from the year when he/she becomes 5 years old, and participates in developmental education-teaching when he/she reaches the age of compulsory education. Developmental education-teaching are provided by the special education, conductive education, or education institution, in individual or group form.

Curriculum, subjects

The Public Education Act defines the National Basic Programme of Kindergarten Education and the National Core Curriculum as the basic document of regulating the contents of school education. The educational aims, key competences, educational and developmental aims outlined in the National Core Curriculum are valid for SEN pupils as well.

The following Guidelines establish the coherence between the National Basic Programme of Kindergarten Education and the National Core Curriculum and the special educational needs of SEN children/pupils:

  • Guideline for the kindergarten education of students with special education needs
  • Guideline for the school education of students with special education needs

The Guidelines are available on the website of the Educational Authority.

Based on the National Core Curriculum and the Guidelines, the ministry responsible for public education arranges for the preparation of the frame curricula that can be used and adapted at schools, and which shall be available for schools free and in an organised manner.

Schools take the differences between students into account when they draw up their local teaching programmes. Disability is such a form of differences between children which necessitates higher differentiation than that applied usually to contents and procedures, use of special procedures and supplementary teaching services. The objectives, tasks, contents, activities and requirements relating to development (of the disability) need to be integrated in the teaching programme and quality management programme of the institution, in the local curriculum, in the learning-teaching programme related to the thematic units and plans, and in the individual development plan. 

Institutions providing for pupils with special education needs, while preparing their teaching programmes, take the Guideline into account, which based on the type of disability determines in detail:

- the option of modifying, eliminating or simplifying certain fields, or involving new fields when designating the contents;

- the fields of correcting damaged skills for rehabilitation, habilitation purposes;

- the proposals for extending education, teaching and development in time to a degree that is over average;

- the proposals also point out at the specific conditions and tools of developing digital competence.

The ministerial decree (20/2012 EMMI Decree of the Ministry of Human Resources) to regulate the operation of educational institutions providing the education of SEN pupils allows   the above institutions to determine in their local teaching programmes longer time than one school year for learning the content of one grade. The considerable majority of the institutions make use of this opportunity, usually in the first grade. In this case the mid-year school report and the end-of-year certificate are issued at the half and at the end of the increased teaching period, respectively.

Teaching methods and materials

Irrespective of whether education and teaching are carried out in a special education institution or integrated, the Guideline should be taken into account when the teaching programme and local curriculum of the school are prepared. The document is aimed at enforcement of the rights of children and students with special education needs for special care. The Guideline determines the main development fields intended for reducing and compensating the disadvantages resulting from disability, the basic principles, objectives and key tasks of development, as well as the tasks and forms of activities assisting teaching and health rehabilitation for all types of disability.

The Individual schools and other special education institutions may decide of their own the methods they consider the most adequate and the procedures they use in the process of education. Such methods differ according to individual disabilities but in each case, they obey the content requirements laid down in the National Core Curriculum. In the course of their application, school education is characterised by the subject-based approach. The Guideline defines the necessary modification of or supplement to the individual contents rather than including the contents specific to the impairment in separate subjects.

In each institution teaching students with special education needs participating special education, independent of whether education is implemented in a special education institution or in an integrated manner, mandatory habitation and rehabilitation classes for health and education purposes are to be integrated in the school curriculum. The rehabilitation time frame is 15-50% of the weekly compulsory number of lessons defined for the relevant grade, depending on the type of disability. Students participate in as many rehabilitation activities as required to reduce their disadvantage resulting from disability. In this time frame, such education activities (subjects) may be planned which are necessary for each student of the class and various individual therapeutic activities planned for individuals and small groups may be performed.

The Guideline defines the tasks of health and education rehabilitation in all fields of disability by designating the frames and objectives. The following are some examples in the individual fields of disability:

  • For physically handicapped students:  The impairment-specific pedagogical developmental process of students with a physical disability is complex. It includes education, teaching, motor development, development of communication, instrumental assistance, attendance of health needs and care, and the joint, mutually reinforcing and complementary applications of personality development.
  • For visually impaired students: A visually impaired student should participate in individual development which meets their needs due to their condition. This includes all special occupations for individual catch-up, talent support, rehabilitation and habilitation that can be included in the student's timetable from the rehabilitation framework of the institution. These occupations are based on observations and suggestions from class teacher, specialist teacher, afternoon teacher and parents.   
  • For hearing impaired students:  The choice of the organisational framework of education and the system of special methods and instruments used are always determined by the child’s individual needs arising from their condition. Inclusive education in a mainstream school is a joint decision of the parents/SEN teacher/teacher, taking into account the opinion of the relevant expert and rehabilitation committee.
  • For students with intellectual disabilities: In the case of students with mild intellectual disabilities, the main tasks are the long-term, regular and intensive special pedagogical intervention and therapy, started as early as possible; the continuous application of learning methods adapted to the level of their learning ability; the adequate development of motivation for learning; and the prevention/compensation of the effects of stigmatisation (e.g.: inefficiency in learning, feeling of inferiority, mockery). Besides the use of pedagogical and special pedagogical tools, the improvement of environmental and social conditions is also necessary for developing learning ability.  
  • For speech impaired students: the development of learning ability and harmonious progression of personality for a student with speech/language impairment is best served by an inclusive school with the appropriate personal, material and methodological conditions. When designating an institution, it is necessary to consider in each case to what extent the followings are compatible: the material, personal and community conditions of the school, the biological and educational age of the child, their abilities, personality characteristics, developmental needs and the ability of the parents to cooperate and adapt and their educational aims.
  • For students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD):  Development should take into account that learner autism is the primary determinant of a possible teaching methodology. In general, the specific combination of needs requires the alignment of specific aspects of additional disorder and autism-specific pedagogical methods.
  • In all fields of impairment: prevention of personality disorders (correct self-perception, self-acceptance, development of the adaptation ability, establishment of appropriate social relations). The development should take place through the transmission of content that is appropriate for them, helping them to achieve the fullest possible independence and their fuller integration into society.

The institution is responsible for filling rehabilitation classes with specific contents and forms of activities, which may be modified within the institution – as necessary – in compliance with the current development needs of the pupils concerned.

Progression of pupils

The rules for progression of students participating in separate special education and teaching are all in all the same as general schools, however, SEN students may be favoured to some extent, depending on the type of disability and based on the expert opinion.

If the individual features, development of the pupil requires, based on the opinion of the expert committee, the head of school may exempt the pupil from assessment and qualification by marks in certain subjects, and may stipulate the use of evaluation and assessment by text instead. The head of school may exempt the pupil from evaluation and assessment in certain subjects. In this case the pupil may choose another subject in the secondary school leaving examination.  

Evaluation of school performance and admission in further school grades are stipulated by and described in the requirements of the school’s local curriculum. In the event a student with special education needs changes schools/school types, an expert and rehabilitation committee have to examine whether the conditions necessary for the education of the student are met by the relevant institution.

Completion of grade 8 of the basic school gives entitlement to continuing studies in upper secondary schools. Most students with physical and sensory disabilities participate in secondary school education together with other students in an integrated manner. Those pupils who due to their special education needs are unable to advance together with the other pupils mostly continue their studies in vocational schools, whereas most pupils with medium severe and slight intellectual disability continue their studies in skills development schools.

Transfer from separate special education and teaching into mainstream education and teaching is possible on the basis of the proposal of an expert rehabilitation committee.


Students learning in a special education or conductive education institution receive a final certificate equivalent to that of non-disabled students in mainstream schools. The marks entered in the certificate are based on the assessment of the performance of the student during the school year and are preceded normally by no special examination. The certificate includes all the favours that were provided for the pupil during the pupil’s studies.

In the event the school allows a longer time than one school year for learning the curriculum of a grade, as allowed by the law, the mid-year school report and the end-of-year certificate are issued at the half and at the end of the increased teaching period, respectively.

In vocational schools VET is provided for the vocational qualification included in the NVQR, and the final certificate entitles its holder to exercise the concerned vocational qualification.

Skills development schools, transferring knowledge required for commencement of employment or starting life, indicate in the final certificate the field of activity in which the pupil received theoretic and practical education.