Country information for Slovenia - Systems of support and specialist provision

Development of inclusion

Co-operation between mainstream schools and specialised institutions, where examples of good practice are present, has been established at the national level. Most commonly, this applies to examples where there are units from schools offering the adapted programme. This form of provision allows transfer between programmes, meaning that pupils with special educational needs (SEN) integrated in a special unit attend special subjects in mainstream schools.

Within special institutions and schools with the adapted programme, there is a mobile service provided by disability experts. They are responsible for the provision of aid required to overcome disabilities, barriers and disorders. Their job is to visit children and learners at pre-primary institutions and schools and provide them with additional professional support. They also offer advice to teachers and educators on the adjustments of school activities required for each learner.

The inclusion of children and young people with emotional and behavioural problems requires co-operation between the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Health to provide the most suitable solution.

The Institute of Education of the Republic of Slovenia has an important role in introducing novelties and innovations in the field of pupils with SEN. Its mission is to manage projects and introduce innovations which are transferred into practice following trials. One of its projects was the experimental introduction of units for learners with SEN suffering from autistic spectrum disorder. Following the amendments of the Act on the Guidance of Children with Special Needs in 2007, the Centre for Guidance also operates within the framework of the Institute. The Centre administers the operation of Children with SEN Guidance Commissions which, on the basis of a completed medical examination, direct learners to the most suitable education programme, specify the scope and form of the additional professional support and potential limitations for the number of learners in groups/classes, and also inspect whether all staffing, spatial and material requirements for the education of children in schools and pre-primary institutions have been provided for. The formal document, laying down the adjustments and additional support requirements, is called a guidance order.

Learners with SEN who suffer from severe development disabilities and attend mainstream schools are provided with support offered by four consultation centres for children, young people and their parents. These centres offer an integral treatment of the child together with the family and, on the basis of a multi-disciplinary approach, advise schools and parents and/or provide the child with the corresponding treatment.

A significant role in the state has been entrusted to the special institutions for people who are deaf, people who are blind and people with physical disabilities. Within the scope of their competences, these institutions provide mobile treatment of disabilities for children and young people. Their work includes training for teachers of groups that include a child or young person with a specific disability, barrier or disorder. Institutions for people who are deaf include well-developed healthcare units which also provide treatment to children with complex or severe speech problems that are the result of an impaired development and require instant treatment.

Children with SEN who are in pre-primary institutions, schools and special units within pre-primary institutions, with more severe disabilities, are provided with the assistance of different professionals (i.e. special teacher, physiotherapist, work therapist) and occasional assistance from the speech and language expert and psychologist.

Children with SEN with more severe physical disabilities are provided with a permanent or occasional assistant to support their inclusion in education. The assistant is paid for by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport. An assistant to children with physical disabilities in pre-primary education is provided by the local community.

A regular/full-time physical assistant is granted to children who require assistance during pre-primary education, during the provision of compulsory or extended curriculum of single structure schools or during educational activities in secondary schools.

Children and learners with SEN included in mainstream schools or pre-primary institutions are entitled to additional hours of professional help as prescribed in their guidance order. Additional hours are intended for overcoming barriers, disabilities and disorders (rehabilitation support) or can take the form of learning support with the aim of facilitating learning in a specific subject.

In the school year 2006/2007, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport published the network of basic schools, meeting all the requirements concerning infrastructure adjustments for pupils with severe physical disabilities using wheelchairs according to international standards.

Since 2008, the rental of more complex technical aids for learners who are blind attending mainstream schools was organised. These aids enable learners who are blind and learners with visual impairments to participate in the education process.

In practice, learners who are blind and learners with visual impairments receive an increased number of hours of professional assistance, aiming to assist them with overcoming their disabilities, barriers and/or disorders. The extended assistance is condensed and takes the form of a course provided by the main centre for education of the blind in Ljubljana. Exercises consist of different communication techniques, i.e. the use of Braille system for writing on a computer and the use of technical aids. In the field of orientation, activities include exercises for improving movement in the nearer and the wider environment, training of other senses, activities for the acquisition of social skills and skills for day-to-day life.

The latest amendments to the regulations on standards and norms in basic schools allow schools to reduce the number of pupils in a class if the latter includes pupils with SEN, according to the Children with SEN Guidance Commission. The group of professionals in each school decides the number of pupils in a class. If the group’s decision requires the formation of an additional class/group, the school must obtain permission from the Ministry of Education. Additional classes may only be formed at the beginning of the school year.

Current provision

Learners with SEN have the option to attend:

  • Mainstream schools and nursery schools
  • Schools offering individual adapted programmes
  • Units in mainstream schools that follow the adapted programme
  • Units in special institutions.

Most learners attending special institutions have one or more other disabilities aside from their main one. Thus, they require specially adapted forms of work, healthcare and rehabilitation, none of which can be provided during inclusion in mainstream schools.

A large majority of learners with SEN are educated in mainstream schools where they are provided with additional professional assistance as decided by the Guidance Commission. The latter can take the form of additional hours of assistance to overcome the disabilities, barriers and/or disorders (e.g. pupils who are deaf receive the help of a teacher for the deaf) or learning assistance with the objective of facilitating learning for a specific subject. A permanent or temporary assistant can be assigned to pupils with more severe physical impairments, depending on the severity of their impairments, so as to assist them during lessons or with other activities during school time.

The groups of learners with SEN integrated in mainstream schools are as follows:

  • Learners with disabilities in specific fields of education who could be very successful with adjustments and additional assistance.
  • Learners with emotional and behavioural problems, excluding learners who, in addition to their emotional and behavioural disabilities, have additional problems (mental problems, reduced cognitive skills) and attend schools within a specialised institution; such problems are mainly the result of a dysfunctional domestic environment.
  • Learners with a long-term illness who, during their hospital treatment, attend the hospital school – a unit of a mainstream school, located in the same city as the hospital.
  • Learners with speech and language problems, provided that such disabilities are not too severe (autism); in such cases learners attend special institutions for people who are deaf or schools offering an adapted programme.
  • Learners with physical disabilities attending education at an institution that corresponds to their intellectual abilities, if their movement is heavily restricted or they suffer from any other disability that requires medical rehabilitation, or they are integrated into special institutions.
  • Most learners who are deaf or learners with hearing impairments and learners who are blind or learners with visual impairments. Only learners who suffer from an additional disability, in addition to their main disability, are integrated into specialised institutions.

Learners with complex or severe cognitive disability attend schools with adapted programmes that provide education at a lower level and special education programmes. Formal recognition of practice based on the formation of groups, following the adapted education programme(s) within mainstream schools is increasing.

Pre-primary children have the option to attend nursery schools providing adapted programmes adjusted to specific disabilities within special institutions. However, they may also decide to attend mainstream nursery schools where they are provided with assistance from a relevant professional. Pre-primary children with complex disabilities can access development units within nursery schools that have been recognised in practice as an effective treatment for this group of pre-primary children. The education process within these units also involves a physiotherapist, a work therapist and the occasional involvement of a psychologist. The prescribed maximum number of children in such groups is limited to six, while the group must be constantly supervised by at least two professional members of staff.

Learners with SEN are also provided with the option of opting for basic school education provision at their place of residence. Through the education, a learner must acquire the same education standard as required by the programme of the public school. The decision on education at the place of residence is made by the commission that examines the learner and assesses that, due to disabilities, barriers or disorders, a pupil cannot attend education at school. Parents are required to ensure suitable learning and teaching conditions at their home. Assessment and evaluation of the pupil is organised at the school and/or institution where the pupil has been enrolled. Resources for education are provided from the state budget, whereas the Minister of Education adopts the decision on the allocation of funding for each individual school year.

The number of learners assigned to mainstream schools and nursery schools, in co-operation with special institutions upon their first examination by the commission, is constantly increasing. Special institutions organise in-service teacher training programmes and provide practical advice for work with learners with SEN. Mobile teachers from specialised institutions and schools with an adapted programme provide for learners with special needs in mainstream schools, providing individual and professional group aid for overcoming disabilities, barriers and disorders.

The Basic School Act (1996, 2008, last revised 2012) allows pupils to transfer between programmes. Basic school pupils can transfer from adapted education programmes to education programmes with professional support offered in mainstream schools. Permanent or temporary transfers of pupils in specific subjects or subject groups are also possible. Learners attending special programmes may, occasionally, also participate in the adapted programmes.

Quality indicators for special needs education

The objectives and outlines of programmes for the education and training of learners with SEN are incorporated into the individual education programme. Parents are required to take part in the process of writing the individualised programme. Evaluation of the programme is provided at least once a year or in circumstances of major changes within the learner’s development, especially changes that affect the implementation of the education and training programme.

In terms of their other individual skills and abilities, learners may be guided and placed into various education and training programmes. Educators in both pre-primary and primary schools provide the necessary adjustments in their endeavours to attain the required standards of knowledge. Instructions for working in a specific programme of education and training provide the necessary support to the educators in implementing the curriculum.

Once a year, learners who are part of the individualised education programme with extra professional support take the national examination on general knowledge. The examination material is adapted to the individual learner’s type and level of disability or disorder. Primarily, the purpose of the general knowledge examination is to obtain information. The other purpose of the examination is to supply learners and their parents with information about the outcomes, strengths or weaknesses of these learners. The information is also important for teachers and school directors as they can then analyse the outcomes and the reasons behind them and apply the results to improve didactic equipment and ways of teaching and evaluation. In this way, they are able to adapt the instruction and the school. There are also examinations at national level. The results of the ‘national knowledge examinations’ provide information about the level of attainment of curriculum standards and thereby enable the evaluation of outcomes at the national level.

Educators apply different methods in their work and often appreciate and use tailored information technologies.

The National Examination Centre and the Evaluation Board at the national level are the chief evaluation institutions within the state that are responsible for evaluating knowledge outcomes. The Board evaluates all innovative education and pilot projects that receive consensus from the most important scientific authorities in the state.

In special institutions for learners with special needs, periodic supervision is carried out, primarily concerning the more challenging population of learners with special needs.

School inspection is the responsibility of the National Inspectorate for Education and Sport (Inšpektorat Republike Slovenije za šolstvo in šport), which falls under the authority of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport. The National Inspectorate is also responsible for inspecting the education of learners with SEN.


Last updated 13/04/2018

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