Definition of the target group(s)
The Law on Education specifies that the purpose of special educational assistance and separate special support is to make the education of pupils in need of special educational support more effective. Special educational support is provided to persons up to 21 years of age by special teachers working in educational psychology services and schools according to the procedure established by the Minister of Education and Science.
Special support to pupils in need of it is rendered at school. They are provided the sign language interpreting, text reading and note-taking as well as other services increasing availability of education. The procedure for provision of special support at schools (excluding higher education institutions) is established by the Minister of Education and Science. At higher education institutions, provision of special support is regulated by every higher education institution concerned.
Special teachers working in educational psychology services and schools provide counselling to recipients of special educational assistance, their parents (foster parents or guardians) and teachers.
In Lithuania, special education is organised in compliance with the Constitution, the Law on Education and Government resolutions as well as other legal acts.
Admission requirements and choice of school
The Law on Education specifies that children recognised as having special education needs have the right to be educated in educational institutions located as close to the place of their residence as possible.
Special classes and special pre-primary education groups are formed in compliance with the List of Criteria on the Establishment, Reorganisation, Liquidation and Restructuring of Schools of General, Special, Vocational Education and Institutions Providing Assistance to the Pupil, Teacher and Schoolapproved by the Government in 2011.
Based on these criteria, special classes can be formed for pupils with specific cognitive/learning disabilities (8–12 pupils per class), with minor mental retardation (5–12 pupils per class), with moderate, major and severe mental retardation (5–10 pupils per class), with multi-sensory disorders (4–6 pupils per class), for blind pupils (5–8 pupils per class), visually impaired pupils (5–12 pupils per class), deaf pupils (5–8 pupils per class), the hard of hearing pupils (5–10 pupils per class), pupils with major speech/language and other communication impairments (5–12 pupils per class) and pupils with limited mobility (motor and support apparatus dysfunctions) (5–10 pupils per class).
Pupils recognised as having limited mobility (motor and support apparatus dysfunctions) may be educated individually or in groups of 2–3 pupils. In special schools, grade 11 is formed to follow the secondary education curriculum only in the event that there are at least five pupils.
The Procedure of Special Education Evaluation and Apointmentin Accordance with the Pedagogical, Psychological, Medical and Social Educational Aspects for Pupils with Special Educational Needs (exclusive pupils with exceptional abilities), who are assigned special education are entitled, with the approval of their parents (foster parents or guardians), to choose one or another form of education (either complete or partial integration or schooling in a special educational institution) according to the recommendation of the educational psychology service.
Pupils with special education needs are admitted to follow the primary, basic and secondary curricula and also adapted curricula in accordance with the Procedure for Consecutive Learning in Accordance with the General Curriculum Framework.
Upon parents’ request, pupils with special education needs following the adapted primary (basic) curriculum may be admitted to follow the special primary (basic) curriculum and pupils following the special primary (basic) curriculum may be admitted to follow the adapted curriculum.
On admission to vocational schools, persons with special needs under 21 years of age have to produce statements from the educational psychology service. The persons’ special needs must allow them to follow the particular vocational training curriculum and work according to the professional qualification obtained. Persons who have completed the adapted basic education curriculum and produced the basic education certificate and a statement about the adapted core general education subjects taught in the final grade of basic education (grade 10) and also their learning outcomes (to show what they have learned) are admitted to vocational schools to follow the adapted secondary education curriculum.
Age levels and grouping of pupils
Education and learning levels by the age of pupils recognised as having special needs do not differ from the usual education levels. They include pre-school education (from birth to the start of pre-primary or primary education), pre-primary education (which starts in the calendar year when the child turns six years of age), primary education (which starts in the calendar year when the child turns seven years of age), basic education, secondary education, vocational education, higher education and adult non-formal education.
The number of children in special groups at pre-school institutions depends on the age group and the type of impairment.
Persons with special needs who follow the adapted primary education curriculum, adapted basic education curriculum or adapted secondary education curriculum are educated in mainstream classes of general education schools.
In forming classes, pupils with special needs (exclusive of pupils with minor communication difficulties) are included in the total number of class pupils by applying coefficient 2 (i. e. one pupil with special needs represents two pupils).
The General Teaching Plans for lower and upper secondary education programs specify that the school must respond to the needs of pupils with special education needs when developing its own Teaching Plan and establish the procedure for meeting those needs: take decisions regarding the learning load of SEN pupils (plan obligatory and special lessons) and provision of special education and/or special support measures.
In response to the needs of pupils with special education needs, the teacher adjusts (modifies, adapts or individualises) the general curriculum of separate subjects to tailor it to the pupils’ education needs. He/she does that with the view of pupils’ education needs and recommendations provided by both the school special education commission and the special teacher. If the school has neither of them, the teacher receives guidance and counselling from specialists of the educational psychology service attending to the needs of that school.
Children following the primary education curriculum study moral education (religion or ethics), Lithuanian and a foreign language, mathematics, perception and understanding of the world, art and technologies, music, physical education and other subjects selected at the school‘s discretion. Pupils following the basic and secondary education curricula study moral education (religion or ethics), Lithuanian and foreign languages, mathematics, information technologies, history, geography, biology, chemistry, physics, art and technologies, music, physical education and other subjects selected at the school‘s discretion.
When organising the education process for SEN pupils, the school takes account of the following aspects: the pupils’ special education needs and disabilities; form of education (complete or partial integration in mainstream education, provision at home or in institutions of separate special education); curriculum (the General Education Curriculum Framework or the curriculum tailored to the needs of pupils with special education needs: modified, adapted or individualised); available funds for education and teaching (learning) environment.
When drawing up a teaching plan for the school, a separate class or an individual SEN pupil, the special or general education school providing education to SEN pupils must be guided by the number of weekly lessons allocated for the implementation of the primary education curriculum subjects in the General Teaching Plan. In addition, the school may adjust (from 20 up to 30 per cent) the number of weekly lessons allocated for the implementation of the curriculum subjects, change (reduce or increase) the number of lessons allocated for individual subjects, plan special classes and/or increase the number of lessons allocated for artistic education, the teaching of other subjects and provision of the teacher‘s additional assistance. For pupils with minor or average mental health difficulties following either the adapted General Curriculum Framework tailored to the needs of SEN pupils or the special primary education curriculum, the school may reduce the minimum number of compulsory lessons per pupil by 1–2 lessons by increasing the number of hours allocated for non-formal education.
In the course of the school year, the school may take into account the evaluation and advice of the school special education commission or educational psychology service and change the number of lessons (hours) allocated for special classes, practical training and individual support or allocate additional hours for a certain period of time for each individual pupil or group in order to intensify the provision of special educational support or teacher‘s assistance.
With regard to individual pupils’ health issues and recommendations of the school special education commission, the school may decide to reduce the duration of lessons by five minutes and spend the time gained on changing the pupils’ activities and arranging breaks.
In implementing the formal and non-formal education curricula, the school is free to set the number of SEN pupils in the group based on the funds allocated, the pupils’ needs and also the available teaching and learning conditions and teaching aids.
For pupils with complex disabilities when limited intellectual capacity is part of the complex, the teaching plan is drawn up taking into account the limitation of intellectual capacity and planning special education support for the development of other dysfunctions. To that end, in special developmental classes for pupils recognised as having moderate, significant and very significant intellectual disabilities and pupils with complex disabilities when moderate, significant and very significant intellectual disability is part of the combination, the teacher the designs an individual curriculum, and the school may make arrangements for classes like that to be engaged in various activities during the school holidays (except summer). Senior pupils engaged in social activity programmes may volunteer and help teachers organise those activities.
On advice from the school special education commission and educational psychology service and subject to the agreement of the pupils’ parents, a number of SEN pupils, including those who are deaf and hard of hearing, have average or significant speech and language impairments, pupils with autism (normal intelligence), behaviour, emotional and social difficulties, dyslexia, average or significant limited mobility (motor and support apparatus dysfunctions), limited or impaired intellectual capacity, pupils suffering from mental illnesses as well as pupils with the above mentioned disorders who are learning at school in the ethnic minority language may not study foreign languages or may take them up later; pupils with hearing disorders may not learn and the deaf do not need to learn music; pupils with limited mobility (motor and support apparatus dysfunctions) may be exempt from technology lessons; instead of those subjects, the school may provide for the pupil’s special education needs, organise special classes and provide teacher‘s additional assistance and allocate additional hours for the teaching of the state Lithuanian language for pupils who are learning at school in the ethnic minority language as well as those who are deaf and hard of hearing. All changes in the teaching plan related to exemption of pupils within mainstream education from learning particular subjects are documented by orders issued by school heads.
Pupils with special needs who are attending special schools for those who are deaf and hard of hearing and pupils with impaired vision, impaired speech and other communication impairments are allocated an additional year of compulsory schooling in a preparatory class in order to achieve, over a longer period of time, the outcomes specified in the General Curriculum Framework. The number of hours allocated for separate subjects may be altered at the school’s discretion to meet the child’s education needs but preserving the minimum number of compulsory lessons per week.
For pupils who are deaf and hard of hearing, classes of communication activities (seven classes per week) are organised instead of classes of foreign languages. Those communication activities include the following: Lithuanian, communication and one lesson per week allocated for the teaching of the Lithuanian sign language. Classes of cognitive activities for those pupils include social and cultural activities, understanding of the natural environment and formation of the elementary mathematical images; classes of artistic activities consist of getting to know the rhythmic patterns of music and fields of art; three lessons per week are allocated for practical activities and two individual lessons per week for each pupil (2–3 individual lessons per week for Cochlear implant users) are allocated for the training of pronunciation and development of speech and hearing skills. Individual sessions for the training of pronunciation and development of speech and hearing skills are conducted during the classes of communication and cognitive activities (the contents of the training sessions and the respective classes should be consistent).
The teaching plan for children with speech, language and other communication needs must include special classes for the development of pronunciation, speech and hearing. One class per each pupil is allocated for individual training.
The teaching plan for children with visual impairments must contain a special class for abilitation training (development of sensomotorics and eyesight).
The school designs the curriculum for the teaching of shut-in SEN pupils at home by selecting the corresponding areas of education, tailoring the syllabuses of the subjects taught to those pupils’ aptitudes and education needs and taking into account the recommendations of doctors.
While educating deaf or hard of hearing children at home, surdopedagogues or speech and language therapists together with the parents (foster parents or guardians) adjust the curriculum to the child’s individual needs, develop his/her skills and provide counselling to the parents taking into account the individual abilities of the child and the level of his/her hearing impairment.
The number of hours allocated for at home education of SEN pupils with minor mental health difficulties as well as SEN pupils with minor mental health difficulties who are learning in an ethnic minority language amounts to 6 hours per week. Those hours are allocated for linguistic, mathematical and social education as well as special lessons to meet the pupil’s special education needs.
The number of hours allocated for at home education of SEN pupils with moderate, major and severe mental health difficulties as well as SEN pupils with minor, major and severe mental health difficulties who are learning in an ethnic minority language amounts to 6 hours per week. Education is organised in separate areas of activities including communication, cognition, orientation, art and practical work. The child is educated at home by a special teacher who, with the view of every child’s individual abilities, together with the parents (foster parents or guardians) adjusts the general primary curriculum to the child’s individual needs, develops his/her abilities and provides counselling to the parents. In organising education at home for children with major and severe mental health difficulties who are recognised as having limited mobility (motor and support apparatus dysfunctions), 1–2 hours per week are recommended for therapeutic exercise.
Special educational needs provision at home to pre-school SEN children to whom attendance of an early childhood education institution is unavailable is organised as follows: educated in accordance with the Procedure of the Special Educational Assistance at Home to the pre-school children(Specialiosios pedagoginės pagalbos teikimo specialiųjų poreikių ikimokyklinio amžiaus vaikams namuose tvarka. )
Teaching methods and materials
Teachers who educate persons with special needs must adjust educational methods, curriculum and content and also select relevant teaching aids to match their special needs.
Education according to the curricula adapted for the special needs of the disabled determines the application of new teaching and learning methods. Pupils with different disabilities and different learning needs are taught by using different ways and methods. The main principles in selecting educational methods are differentiation and individualisation of teaching. Teaching methods are chosen according to individual special needs. Even when following the same educational curriculum, different methods can be applied for different individuals.
In the process of educating pupils with special needs, a variety of methods are used, including narration, explanation, observation, conversation, demonstration, printed or audio materials and usual or computer games. Pupils learn to understand the reality, evaluate phenomena, and develop individual views about people, things, the environment and themselves. Children are engaged in practical work, experiments, observation, active and didactic creative games, and are given logical tasks to solve. Games are played in groups or teams and children are allowed to evaluate their work. Individual work with children is used as corrective education. Excursions and practical work are extensively used as methods of education.
In teaching hearing-impaired pupils, the prevailing tools are visual aids; verbal communication (pronunciation and lip-reading skills) is developed, more information is provided in writing and individual work is organised. Of great importance are visual aids and visual information (various charts, pictures, tables, formula and arbitrary signs) as well as specific communication means like the sign language and finger language (dactylology). Hearing-impaired children in mainstream schools are provided with special assistance of a surdopedagogue. The deaf and hard of hearing children are taught total communication by a verbal or bilingual method. Artistic development is very important in educating the deaf. Pupils are encouraged to express themselves through the synthesis of elements of modern dancing and movement on the stage.
Special teaching aids are used in the process of educating visually impaired children. Every high-risk visually impaired child is given half a lesson every week (during a period of up to four years) for the teaching of Braille. With the help of touch, visually impaired and blind children are taught to perceive the surrounding things and people.
The school supplies SEN pupils with teaching resources free of charge by using funds included in the ‘pupil’s basket’ for the purpose.
Progression of pupils
Assessment of progress and achievements of SEN pupils who were recommended to follow the General Curriculum Framework or the modified General Curriculum Framework adapted to the needs of SEN pupils is based on the Concept of Assessment of Learners’ Progress and Achievements approved by the Conception of Pupils’ Progress and Achievements Assessment.
In assessing pupils’ progress and achievements, the types of assessment used include formative assessment (oral and in writing), diagnostic assessment (according to the formalised way of assessment chosen by the school) and informative assessment (used to report on a child’s progress). In primary grades, pupils’ progress and achievements are not assessed in marks.
At the end of each term (semester), information on pupils’ progress is entered into the Primary Education Record Book or into the Electronic Education Record Book. In 2013–2014, achievements of pupils in grades 1–4 were recorded by indicating the level of learning outcomes attained.
Achievements of pupils following individual, general education curricula adapted to meet the needs of SEN pupils or special primary education curricula are assessed based on the level of learning outcomes specified in those curricula.
Progress and achievements of pupils learning in developmental classes are not assessed in marks. Schools choose their forms of assessment and use the entry ‘attested’ or ‘not attested’.
Under the terms of the Concept of Assessment of Learners’ Progress and Achievements, teachers are recommended to use the methods of formative or diagnostic assessment in evaluating SEN pupils’ progress and achievements. The positive assessment is recorded in marks (scores 4–10, with 4 as the lowest and 10 as the top score) or such entries as ‘exempt’, ‘attested’ or ‘progress made’.
The learning outcomes of pupils who were recommended to follow adapted or modified curricula are assessed according to the particular requirements raised and tasks set for pupils in the respective curricula.
The progress and learning achievements of SEN pupils are discussed in the presence of teachers, specialists providing assistance and the parents (foster parents or guardians).
The Description of the Procedure for Issuing Certificates and Matura Attestationsregulates issuance of certificates and Matura Attestations to pupils of primary, basic, secondary and special education.
A certificate attesting to the learning achievements is granted to a pupil progressing to the next class of the adapted basic education curriculum, special basic education curriculum and adapted secondary education curriculum and to a pupil who has not completed the first part of the basic education curriculum.
The certificate contains entries of the subjects taught, positive and negative school year-end assessments, the number of hours allocated to particular subjects according to the Teaching Plan and the syllabus of a particular subject in the event that the certificate is issued to a pupil of the secondary education curriculum. The entry of the subject which the pupil learnt according to the adapted curriculum is preceded by the note ‘Ad.’
A certificate attesting to the learning achievements in primary education is granted to a pupil who has completed the special primary education curriculum or adapted primary education curriculum. A certificate attesting to the learning achievements in basic education is granted to a pupil who has completed the special basic education curriculum or adapted basic education curriculum. The certificate contains entries of school year-end assessments in the subjects taught according to the curriculum. The entry of the subject which the pupil learnt according to the adapted curriculum is preceded by the note ‘Ad.’
A certificate attesting to the learning achievements in secondary education is granted to a pupil who has completed the adapted secondary education curriculum. The entry of the subject which the pupil learnt according to the adapted curriculum is preceded by the note ‘Ad.’