An important measure of the Educational Development Guidelines 2021-2027 is the creation and implementation of the early prevention system for children, providing complex, systemically integrated pedagogical and psychological support in ensuring the child's developmental needs. Such a system should cover all stages related to ensuring the child's developmental needs - research, assessment and diagnosis, early and appropriate support (intervention) and supervision, reducing the risks of developing children's development, behavior and other disorders and dealing with the capacity of municipal pedagogical and medical commissions and inclusive education problems related to the coordination of support centers. Issues related to the coordination of support for students with special needs will be considered in a systemic and cross-sectoral perspective:
- evaluation of educational abilities, level of development and state of health in order to provide an opinion on the most appropriate educational program or support measures in the learning process and tests;
- consultations on inclusive education issues for educators, parents, specialists, interested parties.
The need for early diagnosis of special needs and planning and provision of early intervention is particularly emphasized, including the development of an original set of diagnostic tools and the approval of screening tools for assessing the developmental needs of children starting from preschool age, as well as the adaptation and provision of evidence-based multimodal intervention programs for children of different ages, taking into account their social-emotional, behavioral, physical and cognitive developmental needs. It is important that early prevention measures take place near the place of study or living of the learners.
Students with special needs are admitted to schools according to the opinion of the pedagogical and medical commission. For students who do not have a pedagogical medical commission's opinion, but who have developmental or learning difficulties, educational institution support specialists (educational or clinical psychologist, speech therapist, speech therapist teacher or special pedagogue) carry out a pedagogical or psychological assessment and provide an opinion. The opinion indicates the recommended support measures in accordance with the regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers or other measures suitable for the learner.
Learning support is available for pupils with learning difficulties and for talented children. Schools offer individual lessons or lessons for groups of children for this reason. Only pupils who wish to participate and have application from parents, attend these optional or facultative lessons. Pupils may receive academic support also during prolonged day groups.
Every year the National Centre for Education publishes the list of support measures for learners with SEN (including students with language disorders) taking national tests. Likewise, the regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers determine support measures for students with special needs in learning the general education programme.
The curriculum framework consists of virtues, cross-cutting skills, understanding and basic skills in the learning areas. The vision of the student, which is the basis of this curriculum framework, includes important habits, which are formed as a result of systematic strengthening, for example, compassion, solidarity, tolerance. The improved teaching content and approach are introduced gradually in general education. In the 2019/2020 school year, the implementation of changes begins at the preschool level, but from the 2020/2021 school year - gradually - also at the primary and secondary school levels.
Already at primary level, students learn to explain the nature of stereotypes and prejudices and are aware of their impact on interpersonal relationships, offer options for action to reduce their negative impact. Human rights are integrated in the social sciences curriculum, where students learn about the role of human rights in modern society, understanding democratic society and state values and democratic principles of public administration.
Bullying is recognized as a special problem in Latvian schools, therefore in October 2022 an amendment to the General Education Law was adopted, saying that schools have to provide systemic support for the development of social emotional competence of students. This is a clear signal to local governments, which are the owners of schools, that systemic support is expected. Also, schools inform students and teachers about recognizing and preventing bullying situations.
Schools may offer psychological support to pupils, pedagogues and parents provided by psychologists and social pedagogues. Schools provide first aid and health preventive care for pupils and inform the child’s general practitioner about health problems.
Career guidance during integrated primary and lower-secondary education is available to all pupils. In most cases, choice of profession is one of the themes discussed in so-called class lessons. There must be at least one teaching period for all the grades every week called class lesson and organized by class teacher (form tutor). Class lessons are for discussing various themes like traffic safety, handling extreme situations, healthy lifestyle, career guidance etc.
Greater attention to educational and career guidance is paid in the last grades of integrated primary and lower-secondary education like the 8th or the 9th. However, Social Science subject is taught in all integrated primary and lower-secondary education grades (1-9). This helps pupils understand themselves and social processes, acquire cooperation skills, make decisions, argue etc. It also annually devotes several lessons to guidance-related themes thus supplementing guidance and counseling service offered by schools.
A wide range of information on education is available at Euroguidance Latvia, which collects, produces and disseminates information about education and training opportunities in Latvia and other European countries at different levels and types of education. It organises information meetings with pupils and their parents, produces and distributes printed materials and promotes cooperation between various actors in the field of education guidance and counselling at national and international level.
Besides, career consultant training programmes as further education modules have been developed for actually working teachers.
General upper-secondary schools provide pupils with information about further studies. Since the aim of upper-secondary education is to provide the pupil with necessary skills and knowledge to continue education, usually there are no other measures taken at the school level to facilitate young people’s access to the labour market. However, some upper-secondary schools provide a work shadowing experience in order to help pupils to gain first-hand knowledge of the world of work, and organize pupil enterprises in collaboration with Junior Achievement.
The National data base on education possibilities in Latvia is a useful source of information on education opportunities.
Another source of information is prakse.lv (internship)/ virtualaprakse.lv (virtual-internship) where pupils/students can gain information about the newest internships, get acquainted with occupational standards, explore the everyday of various occupations, study programmes, fill in career tests and quizzes about respective occupations etc. This portal is developed in cooperation with Employers’ Confederation of Latvia and over 2200 enterprises, 1000 education institutions and 190 NGOs. It is planned to gradually involve over local 5000 enterprises and some foreign enterprises as well.
Various educational institutions participate in annual exhibitions organized all around offering information about the education possibilities they provide. Information about educational institutions can be found in the annual publication "Where to study further?", as well as in newspapers and periodicals. Higher education institutions host the open door days to provide prospective students with the information on studies.
As regards vocational upper-secondary education, practical lessons take place in school workshops and in the real work environment in enterprises. Local municipalities cooperate with organizations of employers to provide trainees with placements in enterprises in order to guarantee the possibility of practice during the studies. A sub-council of the National Tripartite Co-operation Council, the Tripartite Council of Professional Education and Employment, is an advisory council developing suggestions for the state policy and strategy in the area of vocational education and employment. Representatives of employers are involved in the development of occupational standards and participate in the commission of qualification examinations.