Lesson 3 – Special education in the education systems in Europe

All pupils who require assistance due to individually identified developmental and educational needs are eligible to receive support. Special education is intended for children and young people with disabilities (physically disabled, incl. aphasia, intellectually disabled, blind, visually impaired, deaf, hearing impaired, autistic, incl. Asperger syndrome, with multiple impairments), with social maladjustment or at risk of social maladjustment who require special organization of teaching and learning processes and working methods.

Special education is an integral part of most of the education systems in Europe. This is reflected in the legislation, which is common to both mainstream and special education. Special education may be provided in mainstream and special settings – mainstream schools, integration schools and classes or in special schools and residential special schools. It can be also provided, as in the case of all pupils/students, in the form of individualized teaching when their health prevents school attendance.

Special education applies the same teaching methods as mainstream education, although more emphasis is placed on individual work with each pupil. While teachers are free to choose specific methods and forms of work as well as teaching resources, they are required to apply some crucial principles of special education (e.g.  the need to adjust teaching activities to abilities and needs of pupils and to existing circumstances, the need to increase the level of difficulty gradually, the need to use demonstration and example in the teaching process).