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Initial identification of special educational needs - Austria

Pupils with obvious disabilities or severe behavioural difficulties are already cared for at kindergarten level by (peripatetic) special kindergarten teachers. The information about these children shall be given to the respective Special Education Centre at quite an early stage (two years before school start) to guarantee a good preparation for school start. Heads of Special Education Centres collect the respective medical expert opinions and reports and issue the special needs opinion. The decision by the District School Board is subsequently sent to the parents before school starts.

Children of school age with SEN are entitled to receive their compulsory education either in a special school or special school class appropriate for them or in a primary school, secondary school or lower grades of an institution of general secondary education (AHS) which complies with the regulations for SNE standards. (§ 8a SchPflG)

Provision measures for children with SEN allocated via decision

Individual Education Plans form the core of special needs provision. Within "joint education" they serve for exchange and targeted co-operation of the teachers involved. The teams, sometimes comprising multi-professional experts, give advice to each other in order to achieve the best possible provisions for children with SEN.

Education planning defines the initial situation of the respective child and, as a consequence, important goals and special provisions are identified.

Education planning is the basis for a long term and medium term education planning and preparation, taking into account the existent skills and developmental needs of the pupils. In the following you will find the weblinks to educational plans of Tyrol and Carinthia, which may serve as examples:

In most Austrian provinces  the application of the Individual Education Plan (IEP) for children with SEN is mandatory (In the Austrian province of Vorarlberg an IEP is only obligatory for pupils with a higher level of special educational needs, which is enshrined in the syllabus of special school for children with severe disabilities).

The Special Education Centre offers support to teachers for the design of an IEP.

How to detect a special educational need

A special educational need in the spirit of school law complying with § 8 SchPflG is stated if a child cannot follow instruction at a primary or secondary school or at pre-vocational school (one year interface between school and vocational training) without receiving special support due to physical or mental impairment, but is nevertheless capable of attending school. This indicates that poor performance of a pupil at school has to be referred to a psychological or physical disability and thus a causal relation between the characteristic - not capable of following instruction - and the existence of a psychological or physical disability has to be stated. Unsatisfactory achievements at school without the qualifying characteristic of a disability do not justify a SEN.

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