Country information for Austria - Assessment within inclusive education systems
Hospitals and general practitioners – in the framework of mother-child examinations – independent paediatricians and a fairly well-organised network of counselling offices try to provide help to the child and their family as early as possible.
Early intervention is a provision especially for children during the first months of their life, and their families. It comprises medical, psychological and pedagogical aspects. It deals with family assistance and comprehensive support for the child who presents or is in danger of developing a disability. To this end, interdisciplinary co-operation among experts from the fields of psychology, medicine, social work, psychotherapy, speech therapy, music therapy, and early remedial intervention, and strong parental involvement are vital.
Early intervention regards the child not only as an individual, but as part of a system, a group – their family. Those engaged in early intervention have the task of assisting the family of the child with disabilities or delayed development.
There is no uniform concept of disability in the individual provincial laws; instead, different terms, such as ‘increased need for support’ or ‘children with special educational needs’, are used. Accordingly, the diagnostic procedure also varies. In several provinces, a multi-disciplinary team decides whether special needs are identified due to a disability. Furthermore, all provincial regulations contain preconditions for exclusion from kindergarten. In some provinces, separate preconditions are required which make it difficult to exclude children with increased educational needs. In most provinces, however, the decision on exclusion is made solely by the sponsoring institution, and does not require a medical or psychological statement.
Definition of special educational needs
Special educational needs in the spirit of school law is defined according to Article 8 of the Compulsory School Act (SchPflG), which states:
if a learner 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 a physical or mental disability, but is nevertheless capable of attending school. Unsatisfactory achievements at school without the qualifying characteristic of a disability do not constitute special educational needs.
The identification of special educational needs requires a painstaking diagnostic analysis by means of which the current inability to follow instruction at school can be clarified. Only then can it be decided which measures can be taken, and whether a specific allocation of resources is required and sensible.
Refer to the Circular letter of the Ministry of Education, 2008, for further information (German only).
The District School Board
According to Article 8 (1) of the Compulsory Education Act, the District School Board must issue a special educational needs statement for a learner, provided that due to physical or psychological disabilities the learner is not capable of following instruction in primary or lower-secondary school or in pre-vocational school without receiving special educational support, but is nevertheless capable of attending school. The Special Education Centres issue opinions which form the basis for decision-making by the District School Board on whether a learner presents special educational needs. In addition, expert opinions issued by public health officers or school psychologists, or persons who hitherto have cared for the learner in education or therapy, can be used.
Special Education Centres
According to Article 27a of the School Organisation Act, Special Education Centres are special schools that have the task of providing and co-ordinating special education measures using other methods to ensure that learners with special educational needs can also be educated in the best possible way in mainstream schools.
If there is no appropriate special school in a school district, the District School Board takes charge of the tasks of the Special Education Centre.
Last updated 12/04/2018