Welcome to the Multicultural Diversity and Special Needs Education web area!

The Agency project focusing upon an analysis of Multicultural Diversity and Special Needs Education involved 25 European countries between 2006 and 2008. Agency member countries’ representatives expressed the need for a project which analyses the connection between special needs education and immigration and would provide recommendations formulated as a result of the analysis.

Project participants

32 national experts from 25 countries were involved in this analysis: Austria, Belgium (Flemish and French speaking communities), Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and UK (England).

Aims and objectives

The analysis conducted by the Agency has not focused upon general educational issues relating to pupils with immigrant backgrounds, but solely on educational issues related to pupils with SEN and an immigrant background. The main purpose of the analysis was to investigate how to respond to the educational needs of pupils with SEN with different cultural backgrounds and who in some cases use a different language than the one used in the host country, in the best possible way. 
This dual consideration has highlighted the following key issues:

  • To which extent language problems are considered as learning difficulties;
  • How the abilities and needs of pupils with an immigrant background are assessed;
  • How to support teachers and families in the best way.

The target group for the analysis covered pupils with special educational needs who are immigrants, or who belong to ethnic minority groups. In spite of the differences among countries, the analysis has tried to draw attention to five core areas. These areas were identified as being central for the collection of information and the subsequent practical analysis regarding the education of pupils with the combined characteristics of SEN and an immigrant background:

  • Target population, as defined at country level;
  • Existing data at local (and/or national) level;
  • Educational provisions offered to pupils and families;
  • Support measures;
  • Assessment tools used in order to initially identify the needs and abilities of pupils with special educational needs and an immigrant background.

Project outputs

The main output of the project is a summary report. This includes:

  • A synthesis of studies and published results from research upon the topic;
  • A synthesis of local/national country reports prepared by the experts;
  • Results from the practical analysis conducted in the project in six different locations;
  • Conclusions and recommendations based on the findings from research, country reports and the examples of practice.

The project's key messages are summarised in a policy paper.

Experts from the 25 countries involved in the project provided country reports based on a questionnaire for this data collection purpose.

A list of references for publications and articles of interest in this field are available to download.

multicultural diversity

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