Definition of the target group(s)
Groups of pupils with special education needs (SEN) are defined and special education needs are identified as minor, moderate, major and severe according to the procedure established by order issued jointly by the Ministers.
The Law on Education states that in early childhood and school education the responsibility for creation of a safe and supportive environment for the learner rests with the Child Welfare Committee. It organises and coordinates adaptation of education curricula and provision of education support to pupils with special education needs and performs other functions related to child welfare assurance. The procedure for setting up the Child Welfare Committee and organising its activities is established by the Minister of Education and Science.
The Child Welfare Committee carries out the initial identification of the pupil‘s special education needs. Pupils’ special education needs (exclusive of needs due to the child’s exceptional giftedness) are evaluated from the point of view of educational, psychological, medical and social educational aspects by the Educational Psychology Service and special education provision is assigned by the Head of the Service or, in particular cases, by the school head with the parents’ (foster parents’ or guardians’) consent according to the procedure established by the Minister of Education and Science.
Learner disabilities are divided into the following groups:
- disabilities (mental, vision, hearing disorders, cochlear implants, motion and positional, neurological disorders, varied developmental disorders, deaf-dumbness, complex and other disabilities);
- disorders (learning, behavioral and/or emotional, speech and language, complex disorders);
- learning difficulties (learning a second language, or living in another cultural/linguistic environment, with a slowdown in development, with health problems, suffering from the adverse effects of environmental factors, experiencing emotional crisis, non-realization of exceptional abilities);
- other disorders.
Parents (guardians) who have the child's educational difficulties (language, communication, behavior, etc.) at home turning to educational psychological service or turning to education support service for evaluation.
Staff specialists (special educator, psychologist, speech therapist, pediatrician and neurologist (or) neurologist, social educator, surdopedagogue, if a child has a hearing disorder, tiflopedagogue if a child has vision problems) carry out an assessment, establish the level of special educational needs, and fill in official document. The evaluation results are discussed with the parents (guardians).The service provided by parents (guardians)consent, appoint a special learning and (or) educational assistance.
Specific Support Measures
Pupils recognised as having special education needs may be integrated within mainstream general education schools through provision of complete integration (when pupils with special needs are educated in regular classes of mainstream schools) or provision of partial integration (when pupils with special needs are educated in developmental, remedial or special classes of mainstream schools).
At the school level, the policy of special-needs pupils’ integrated education is the responsibility of the school heads but all the teaching staff are involved in the implementation process. The key provisions of SEN pupils’ education include:
- application, where possible, of alterations to school building facilities and other specific support measures to cater for the needs of children with limited mobility;
- provision of objectives and ways to meet the needs of children with disabilities in the school activities programme and compliance with the equality of rights principle;
- creation of conditions for teachers’ continuing professional development in the field of special education needs provision;
- involvement of the parents of children with disabilities into the education process, etc.
Primary, basic and secondary curricula are modified and adapted for the teaching of SEN pupils in mainstream schools. The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, Education Development Centre and the Centre for Special Education and Psychology develop methodological guidance for teachers on how to adapt the general curricula for various types of pupils recognised as having special educational needs.
The teaching methods, syllabus content, teaching plan and organisation of evaluation of pupils’ attainments and progression and also procedures for their performance evaluation may be adapted to fit the pupils’ special education needs.
Special educational support (special training) for pupils educated by way of complete integration (in mainstream classes) is provided during lessons and training in speech therapy is provided after school.
In 2012, the Ministry of Education and Science developed guidelines to improve children’s education in minority languages and the teaching of minority languages. The guidelines specify arrangements made for setting a course towards the development of education in minority languages with the goal of preserving the country’s cultural diversity. For the first time it was stated that Lithuanian schools should become more open and extend their communication with schools providing education in national minority languages.
The guidelines also encourage schools teaching in minority languages to get involved in joint projects of cooperation among different schools and pupil organisations. In addition, the general curriculum framework for ethnic culture is to be renewed and extended to include ethnic culture elements of those national minorities that have been living in Lithuania for ages. Preparations are also made to develop folders of the necessary teaching materials by involving members of the ethnic minority communities in the work to be carried out.