Definition of the target group
Article 1 of the modified law of 14 March 1973 on special education (éducation différenciée) stipulates:
'The State will ensure that any child who is subject to compulsory schooling and who cannot follow mainstream nor special instruction due to mental, psychological, sensorial or motor characteristics, and who has special educational needs, will either receive appropriate instruction in a centre or institution of special education, or receive individualised help and support by a service of special education in the framework of mainstream preschool or elementary education.'
Children with special educational needs are subjected, as all other children, to compulsory schooling. They may attend, according to their possibilities and needs:
- A centre or institute of the Education ministry’s Service for special education
- A private institutionin Luxembourg or abroad, approved by the ministry of Education,
- Mainstream education, while receiving support and assistance from the Service for special education
- A centre or institute of special education, while complementarily attending a class in mainstream education for certain activities.
Admission requirements and choice of school
In general, the policy of the Ministry of Education aims at integrating pupils with special educational needs into the institutions of mainstream education or to provide schooling in their immediate environment.
In order to ensure a neutral and objective admission to special education, and to prevent children from being prematurely excluded from mainstream elementary education, the guidance procedure for pupils with special educational needs foresees the following steps:
- According to the law on the organisation of elementary education (loi du 6 février 2009portant organisation de l’enseignement fondamental), each person in charge of a pupil with special educational needs is obliged to indicate this case to the Regional Commission for School Inclusion (CIS – Commission d’inclusion scolaire régionale). The same applies for municipal administrations, school inspectors, doctors and social workers informed about the case of a child concerned.
- The CIS is composed of at least the following members: the district inspector (inspecteur de l’arrondissement), an elementary school teacher and 3 members of the district’s multi-professional team (équipe multiprofessionnelle). For each child, and subject to the parents’ approval, the CIS draws up a diagnosis of the child’s needs and proposes an individual support plan (plan d’encadrement individualisé). This document is prepared by the class teacher in cooperation with the parents. It suggests an adapted type of schooling in an institution of mainstream education or special education and may include additional support measures.
- If the individual support plan suggests to guide the pupils towards a class or an institution of special education in Luxembourg or abroad, this proposal, including the reports of different specialists, is submitted to the National Medico-Psycho-Pedagogical Commission (CMPPN – Commission médico-psycho-pédagogique nationale). The latter is composed of specialists from different disciplines including the General Inspector (inspecteur général) of elementary education, the director of the Service for Special Education (Service de l’éducation différenciée) and the director of the Logopedics Centre (Centre de Logopédie).
- The CMPPN examines the request submitted and issues a guidance proposal to the parents.
- Within two months, the parents take a decision on the schooling of their child. If no decision has been taken within this period, the pupil is automatically enroled in the institution suggested by the CMPPN. In the case of disagreement, the parents contact the Minister who submits the request to a group of experts who may either support the proposal of the CMPPN, the CIS or propose an alternative solution.
- Parents wishing to re-enrol their child in mainstream elementary education submit a written request to the CIS concerned at least 2 months before school starts. The CIS passes this request, and its own view on the matter, on to the CMPPN and the Ministry of Education. The reintegration into mainstream education is carried out by decision of the minister.
Age levels and grouping of pupils
The duration of special education within the seperate system of Special Education varies according to the children’s specific situations. Most centres cater for pupils between 4 and 16 years (compulsory school age). The centres for preparatory vocational training (centres de propédeutique professionnelle) also cater for young people above 16 in order to prepare them for working life.
The limited number of pupils in the classes of special education allow to adapt the teaching to each pupil’s needs. The groups are supervised by teachers, educators, nurses and other socio-educational specialists.
According to the individual needs, learning activities are undertaken in:
- Large groups (i.e. swimming, physical education, leisure activities);
- Small groups (i.e. practical work, projects, academic learning);
- Individual sessions (i.e. psychomotor re-education, basal stimulation, speech training).
Special education puts the individual pupil in the centre when it comes to defining both, the learning objectives to be reached and the individual steps to be taken: each year, the class teacher, together with the head of the institution and a psychologist, draws up an individual educational plan in agreement with the parents. Based on the joint curriculum of special education, this plan details the priorities for the development of the pupils. This process allows to take the pupils’ interests, their needs and their progress into consideration and it facilitates the exchange among professionals and the dialogue with parents.
The joint curriculum of special education includes the following ten psycho-pedagogical aspects:
- Personal independence
- Basic school teaching
- Cultural teaching
- Psychomotor education
- Health and social hygiene
- Affective and social development
- Personal responsibility
- Initiation to professional life
- Leisure activities.
The specific subjects depend on the institute or the centre concerned. For instance, the Institute for Visual Impairments (Institut pour déficients visuels) also offers courses in braille or on the use of optical aids and electro-optic systems.
In addition to academic learning activities, the centres organise educational, therapeutical, recreative, cultural and artistic activities as well as sports (i.e. cooking classes; swimming; therapeutic horse riding; artistic impression etc.).
As far as the Logopedics Centre is concerned, the teaching of pupils with speech or hearing impairments is based on the curriculum of elementary education.
Teaching methods and materials
Approximation of special and mainstream education
In view of a better social and educational inclusion of pupils with special educational needs, special attention is devoted to reproaching special and mainstream education. This integration takes different forms:
- Common buildings in elementary education: some of the centres for special education are completely integrated into a mainstream elementary school. This model contributes to reducing existing prejudices and barriers. Joint meals and recreational activities as well as projects such as celebrations with classes from mainstream education allow for contacts among all pupils. Several pupils of these centres regularly take part in courses held at the regular classes (i.e. instruction to sciences; physical education; music)
- 'Cohabitation' classes (classes de cohabitation): a different form of integration consists in integrating a group of pupils from a centre or institute of special education in a building of mainstream education. These classes are called 'Cohabitation classes' and exist in several elementary and secondary schools.
The methods and materials used depend on the different courses. They are adapted to the individual needs of the pupil and the specialisation of the institution. Concerning the fees for the material, article 8 of the law on special education (loi du 14 mars 1973) states that the State supplies the material needed for teaching and re-education free of charge and arranges for the transport services.
Progression of pupils
An assessment report, based on the individual education plan is established at least once a year in view of the child’s further guidance. A copy is sent to the parents.
The individual education plans and the reports aim at:
- Providing guidelines for the pedagogical work
- Informing the parents with regard to the main educational options
- Allowing an evaluation of the child’s progress.
In order to be able to adapt the plan during the school year, intermediate reports are established on a quarterly or biannual basis. The annual evaluation is based on these intermediate reports and the adaptations of the plan. In order to provide comprehensive information for the pupils’ future guidance at the end of the academic year, the evaluation has to be accomplished in June at the latest.
Reintegration into mainstream education
Parents wishing to re-enrol their child in elementary school submit a written request to the CIS concerned at least 2 months before school starts. The CIS passes this request and its own view on the matter, on to the CMPPN and the Ministry of Education. The reintegration into mainstream education is carried out by decision of the minister.
As a rule, secondary school leaving diplomas and vocational qualifications from the formal system of mainstream education are not delivered within special education. They can however be attained by pupils who (re)integrated into mainstream education, who can benefit from one of the support measures presented in article 12.1.