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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Special education needs provision within mainstream education


12.Educational support and guidance

12.1Special education needs provision within mainstream education

Last update: 27 November 2023


Definition of the target group

Primary education and special schools for primary education are both part of the Act on Primary education. Special (secondary) education is part of the Expertise Centres Act. Chapter 12.2 deals with the (secondary) special education. In regular education there are educational provisions for children in need of extra guidance en support. Pupils with special needs are not automatically referred to special schools. The aim is to integrate them in mainstream schools.

Collaboration between special secondary education and mainstream education is called symbiosis. Part of the education is carried out by a regular school, while the student is enrolled in a school for special secondary education.

Pupil/student-specific funding

Pupil/student-specific funding is funding for schools in primary, secondary and vocational education for pupils/students with disabilities. A school can use the funding for e.g. extra guidance of adapted teaching material. Pupil/student-specific funding is for pupils/students not able to attend regular education without extra provisions. This concerns:

  • pupils with cognitive, sensory of physical impairments;
  • severe psychiatric difficulties
  • severe learning or behavioural difficulties
  • multiple impairments
  • protracted illness

The school proposes an educational report for the application for pupil-specific funding. The school provides such a report as well if a pupil moves to a special school for primary education or special education. The report informs on the school’s own provisions to avoid a change to special education, next to information on the pupil’s development.

Since the first of August 2014 the Act on Appropriate Education is in force. Schools will be responsible for educational support in a regional context: both in (secondary) special education and some forms of light support in regular education. Pupil/student specific funding will be abolished. It will be replaced with extra funding for pupils in need of additional guidance in regular education. The budget will be fully available, but it will go directly to the collaborating schools. For more information see Chapter 12.2 New legislation.

Mainstream primary schools are not obliged to accept children with special needs. They might for instance feel unable to provide the pupil with appropriate education. In such cases, placement at the school would not be in the interests of either the special needs pupil or his or her fellow pupils. The school may accordingly refuse to accept a pupil, though they must provide grounds for their refusal.

Practical training

Practical training is for students who are not expected to achieve a diploma for pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO). Practical training prepares these students for the labor market.  The regional referral committee (RVC) issues a learning support statement for pupils eligible to receive learning support. The school at which the child is registered then receives extra funding which can be used in combination with funds from the regional special needs budget to provide support for either statemented or non-statemented children. A practical training statement from the regional referral committee is required for admission to practical training.


Specific support measures


Support measures in primary education

Schools use pupil-specific funding for education for pupils in need for additional guidance. With this funding the school can provide additional guidance and teaching material.


Remedial teacher

A remedial teacher is educated to supply additional support for children who perform insufficiently because of e.g. learning of behavioral difficulties. Besides that schools often have an internal counsellor for individual guidance.

Highly gited pupils

Schools are autonomous in deciding on the provisions for (highly) gifted children. The special needs plan of the schools’ cooperation describes the approaches and provisions in use.


The special needs plan provides the provisions for children with dyscalculia, a learning disability in the field of arithmetic and mathematics


The special needs plan provides the provisions for children with dyslexia, a reading disability.

ADHD and autism

Children with a attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autistics children can get extra guidance in a regular school. If they cannot develop properly, they can be referred to special education.

Schools are obliged (from August 1, 2014) to supply appropriate education for children in need of extra guidance. In the new system the group of cooperative school boards decides on the sort of guidance that will be available.


Support measures in secondary education

Schools for secondary education use pupil-specific funding for education for pupils in need for additional guidance. Besides that there are provisions for pupils with dyscalculia, dyslexia and for (highly) gifted pupils.

Highly gifted pupils

In secondary education schools are responsible for tailored education for (highly) gifted pupils for which they receive funding. The school plan describes the facilities for (highly) gifted pupils. There is a national network of schools specialized in approaches for (highly) gifted pupils.


Various facilities are available in secondary education for pupils with dyscalculia. The dyscalculia protocol helps schools in supporting pupils. During central exams a pupil can get an extension of time, with a maximum of 30 minutes. During all central exams pupils with dyscalculia may use  a calculator; other aids, such as a formula card or conversion table, are not allowed.


A school for secondary education has various means for to support pupils with dyslexia, e.g.:

  • to test orally;
  • to use aids, such as a DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) Digital Talking Book or a computer with spelling check;
  • additional guidance in reading, spelling or language; this facility is often applied in collaboration with a school counseling service or a remedial teacher.

Dyslexia statement

Pupils in secondary education need a dyslexia statement to be eligible for aids. This statement describes all disabilities that cause dyslexia and which aids are needed. Only a certified psychologist or remedial educationalist, specialized in learning disabilities, can issue a dyslexia statement.