Mainstream Education/Integration/Inclusive Education
The educational mandate of primary, lower secondary and the lower level of academic secondary schools has been expanded by amendments of the School Organisation Act
- SchOG § 9
- SchOG § 15
- SchOG § 34
- SchOG § 55a
- SchOG § 68a
- SchPflG § 8a
to carry out education for students with special educational needs from the first to the eight grade regardless of the kind or extent of the individual disability. Mainstream education of SEN – students in Polytechnical Schools, a particular type of pre-vocational school (ninth grade), may be offered by pilot projects.
Whenever a child is recognised by the local school board to have special educational needs parents decide (SchPflG § 8a) either for a special school or a mainstream setting in regular schools. In case parents choose for mainstream education the local authority (SchPflG. § 8) has to make any necessary provisions to facilitate education for SEN – students in regular schools (i.e. to select an appropriate primary or secondary school, to organise students´ transport, to assign special teachers to mainstream classes ....).
To ensure the quality of inclusive education special pedagogical assistance needs to be co-ordinated on a regional basis. This co-ordination is carried out by Special Educational Centres (SchOG § 27a) (usually located at a special school) which are responsible for transferring SEN-know-how to mainstream classes, consulting and assisting teachers and parents, providing appropriate material and equipment and for co-operation with other important key actors and institutions within and outside the education system.
Inclusive education in mainstream settings can be organised in two ways:
'Integration classes' of an average number of 22 to 25 students including 4 to 6 SEN – students with different kinds of disabilities. The exact numbers of students in these classes is regulated by legislation of the provinces.
'Individual inclusive education': SEN – provisions are made for single SEN – students in mainstream classes (particularly in rural areas).
Generally an additional full- or part-time teacher – depending on the number and kind of impairments of SEN – children - is allocated to the class. Team-teaching, individualised instructions, differentiation and project–oriented education are going to become more and more general standards particularly in primary schools.
Instructions can either be based on a curriculum of a special school in line with the student's educational abilities or they may follow the regular curriculum which has to be adapted to the requirements of the child's particular disability (f.e. visual/hearing impairments).