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On-going assessment of learning in inclusive settings - Austria

Primary school (1st-4th grade)

Working in inclusive classes: The instruction in an inclusive class at primary level is carried out by a team of teachers consisting of a special teacher and a primary school teacher. These teachers act as equal partners and are responsible for the education and instruction of all children. The two different competences of the teachers (concerning special needs and primary school education) complement each other within the team work. However, the special school teacher is mainly responsible for special needs support but should also keep in mind the common goals of school education. For diagnostic issues and the design of individual support goals both teachers are responsible for all children.

Apart from the co-ordinated work of the teachers, which comprises the preparation, planning and carrying out of the instruction, the co-operation with the parents and all respective authorities, others challenges for the teacher team in the extracurricular field are the maintaining of interdisciplinary contacts to institutions and networking with all persons involved in child education, which are relevant for the school environment.

For the concrete educational work the teachers must take into account the individual learning conditions of all their pupils. This entails that means of individualisation and differentiation (free work with the children, weekly schedules, project instruction, joint provision planning) form an integral part of education. These basic principles also apply to children who are supported via individual integration. Here, the responsibility is mainly shifted to the primary school teacher since the special needs teacher only takes part in a beforehand agreed number of lessons.

Different types of Provision: Provision for children with special needs without an official decision

As for pupils with learning or behavioural difficulties first all possibilities are exploited before a SEN is issued. Among these possibilities are: remedial instruction - especially integrative and individual care in small groups or small schools, special remedial instruction for children with other mother tongues than German, speech therapy, care provided by advisory teachers and education psychologists, taking up contact with school psychologists, counselling by heads of Special Education Centres, downgrading to the next lower year when in Grundstufe 1, repetition of a year. After full exploitation of all these measures the quota of children with SEN can be reduced. However, it is advisory to start an Individual Education Plan in the run-up of school start.

A voluntary repetition is possible only once during the whole school career after an application from the parents (or, in higher grades, on application of the student): 

... if the child should get the opportunity to catch up a deficit due to development or social background reasons or due to health reasons. (SchUG § 27).

As long as a child presents no obvious disability there is no immediate appeal for a SEN but the child can be put under observation for a maximum of five months at primary school at request or by consent of the parents or legal guardians (§ 8 SchPflG, Abs. 2)

During that period of time the school establishes contact with the regional or supraregional Special Education Centre to check up preventively if special measures are necessary or if the measures applied at primary school are sufficient. Only after this first contact the initiation of a SEN procedure is decided upon. The parents' consent is required for this kind of preventive work.

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