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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Separate special education needs provision in early childhood and school education


12.Educational support and guidance

12.2Separate special education needs provision in early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Definition of the Target Group(s)

The education system provides for the children who experience intellectual, sensory and motor developmental difficulties and disabilities.

The guiding idea is that all children, regardless of the severity of their disability, have the right to participate in regular preschool, primary and secondary school programmes. They are entitled to additional individual or group educational support in regular/mainstream schools. Or, they can attend special education schools, if their parents prefer so.

The additional support is carried out through Individual Educational Plan (Individualni obrazovni plan – IOP), if previous adjusting and removing physical and communication barriers have not led to achieving common outcomes of education.

Individual Education Plan determines what are the needs of a particular child/pupil/student. It is based on psychological assessment, and created by a team of school specialists and parents (inclusion team).

Admission Requirements and Choice of School

Parents may choose whether they want to enrol their child to:

  • a mainstream or
  • a special education school.

A mainstream school organizes readiness and knowledge assessment for all children. Testing children with physical and sensory disabilities is carried out with the use of testing forms the child can optimally respond to.

Special education schools usually appear as a likely choice for children with severe disabilities of various types. In these schools, children are enrolled based on the opinion of an inter-ministerial commission for assessing the need for additional education, health and social support.

Age Levels and Grouping of Pupils

In mainstream schools there can be up to 2 pupils with developmental difficulties and disabilities per class.

The number of children per class in special education schools is significantly smaller depending on the severity of the disabilities in question. This is necessary as teaching is often individualized. Classes in special education primary schools cannot have more than 10 pupils, in secondary schools not more than 12 students, while preschool developmental groups may include 4 to 6 children.

Curriculum, Subjects

Since 2012, the curriculum in special education schools has been the same as that in mainstream schools (see Teaching and Learning sections in Primary Education and Secondary Education topics), albeit reduced. Numbers of classes per week and year are also the same; however, school hours are shorter – 30 minutes.

Curriculum in mainstream schools can be adjusted partially or changed entirely by Individual Education Plan depending on the child’s needs. The procedure of passing such a plan is determined by a special regulation.

Teaching Methods and Materials

According to the Bylaw on Education Specialists’ Programme of Work, special education teachers are those engaged in special education schools. All methods of teaching and work with children are adjusted to each individual child and his or her type of disability or difficulty. Teaching and other materials, such as toys, are also in line with children’s needs.

Special education teachers are also responsible for the counselling, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all children who need additional educational support (children with sensory, perception and motor disorders, psychophysical disorders, speech and language disorders, learning difficulties, social and emotional disorders and others).

Speech therapists work with children with speech disorders and their prevention, identification, diagnosis, stimulation and rehabilitation. Speech therapists work individually with children or in groups of chidren, with parents and teachers; likewise, they collaborate with other specialists and teachers in the institution.

Progression of Pupils

Progression of pupils with developmental difficulties and disabilities is determined by their Individual Education Plans.

This plan allows customization/modification of a final examination, an exemption from some of its parts. The conditions under which the exam is taken must ensure overcoming physical and communication barriers.

Individual Education Plan itself is being evaluated according to pre-established dynamic to determine whether there is a need for its modification or if the need for its further implementation has ceased to exist.

If a child with developmental difficulties and disabilities follows the regular school programme without an Individual Education Plan, its needs and difficulties are fully considered and are approached accordingly.


There is no difference in certification of pupils with developmental difficulties and disabilities and regular pupils in mainstream schools.

Besides record cards with final grades, pupils receive certificates on grade completion at the end of each grade. At the end of 8th grade, pupils receive the Primary School Certificate (сведочанство) as a proof of primary school completion and at the end of secondary education pupils receive a diploma. The Individual Education Plan is kept as a separate record.