Country information for Iceland - Assessment within inclusive education systems
The health and education services and social workers pay special attention to children’s mental and physical condition. If they discover that a child shows symptoms of a disability, they inform the child’s guardians accordingly. If a preliminary assessment reveals the need for further diagnosis or means of therapy, the guardians are directed to the appropriate national agency.
The four main national agencies concerned are:
- The State Diagnostic and Counselling Centre
- The National Institute for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Deaf-Blind
- The National Hearing and Speech Institute of Iceland
- The Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit of the National Hospital.
The National Institute for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Deaf-Blind is a national agency monitoring all blind and visually impaired people in the country. It is responsible for the diagnosis of blind and visually impaired children. A corresponding facility exists for deaf and hearing impaired children and adults: the National Hearing and Speech Institute. Children and adolescents with serious emotional and psychiatric problems are referred to the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit of the National Hospital. The State Diagnostic and Counselling Centre is the fourth main national agency concerned. Each agency seeks adequate solutions for diagnosis and treatment in consultation with the parents.
This ensures that almost all children with severe disabilities are identified at pre-primary school age (0–5 years of age) by medical staff, health visitors or pre-primary school teachers. Advice and guidance are given to the guardians, the concerned schools and the school service of the municipality concerned. Children with disabilities are entitled to attend a pre-primary school operated by municipalities.
Under the Pre-Primary School Act, children who, because of their disabilities or because of emotional or social difficulties, need special assistance or training, are to be provided with such support in their own pre-primary school in co-operation with the municipality. This is supervised by the head teacher of the pre-primary school in co-operation with the teacher, a developmental therapist or other specialist services such as a speech therapist or psychologist, according to the Regulation on Specialist Services in Schools no. 584/2010.
All children from birth to adolescence undergo regular check-ups to monitor their health and development.
The Compulsory School Act stipulates 10 years of schooling for all children between the ages of 6 and 16. The ideology is that the compulsory school is to be inclusive and meet the educational needs of each pupil according to their abilities.
All children have the right to suitable instruction and care. Pupils have the right to attend school in the area where they live. Schools are to systematically undertake the integration of children with special educational needs (emotional or social problems and/or physical or intellectual disabilities) into mainstream education.
Pupils with dyslexia, pupils suffering from long-term illnesses and pupils with health-related special needs also have the right to special study support, according to evaluation of their special needs. Pupils who are deemed unable to attend school because of an accident or a long-term illness, according to a doctor’s evaluation, have the right to special instruction because of their condition, either in their home or at a medical facility. Special instruction because of medical conditions is the responsibility of the relevant municipality.
If a child’s parents, head teacher, teachers or other specialists believe that the child is not receiving suitable instruction in the compulsory school, the parents can request that their child be admitted to a special class within a general compulsory school or to a specialised school. Most of the larger municipalities have one or more special classes within their catchment area, inside mainstream schools, which provide appropriate services for various disabilities according to needs.
There are currently three segregated special schools that provide services for the whole country at the compulsory level: one that serves pupils with severe disabilities and two for children with psychiatric and social difficulties.
Pupils with exceptional learning ability have the right to a challenging learning experience. Admittedly, more organised effort is being put into meeting the needs of children with disabilities rather than children with exceptional abilities. However, this does not mean that little is done for exceptionally gifted children, but rather that the programmes are more on a municipal level or in particular schools rather than nationally organised.
At upper-secondary school level, pupils with special needs, disabilities or emotional or social difficulties are to be provided with instruction and special study support. Specialised assistance and appropriate facilities are provided as considered necessary. A few secondary schools in the country have special programmes or units for pupils with disabilities where they are taught according to individual curricula. The units may differ from one time to another because they are, by definition, run on a temporary basis. Everyone is entitled to education for the first two years of the secondary school level (age 16–18), but pupils with disabilities are entitled to education at the secondary level for four years.
Specialist advice and suitable conditions are to be ensured. In their studies, pupils with disabilities follow the ordinary curriculum and take courses with other pupils as far as possible.
There are no special schools at the upper-secondary school level.
Last updated 14/02/2018