Croatia background information
- Pupil age ranges
How the official decision of special educational needs (SEN) used in the country relates to the agreed EASIE operational definition
An official decision leads to a pupil being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.
Pupils’ legal entitlements under what legislation
The following legislation regulates the legal entitlements of pupils with SEN:
- Primary and Secondary School Education Act (Official Gazette, Nos. 87/08, 86/09, 92/10, 105/10, 90/11, 5/12, 16/12, 86/12, 126/12 and 94/13, 152/14)
- Regulation on Primary Education of Students with Developmental Disabilities (Official Gazette, No. 23/91)
- Regulation on Secondary School Education of Students with Developmental Disabilities and Extensive Developmental Disabilities (Official Gazette, No. 86/92)
- Regulation on the Number of Students in Regular and Combined Class Units and Educational Groups in Elementary Schools (Official Gazette, Nos. 124/09 and 73/10)
- Regulation on the Process of Assessing the Psychophysical State of Children and Students and the Structure of Expert Committees (Official Gazette, Nos. 55/11 and 67/14)
- Regulation on Taking the State Graduation Exam (Official Gazette, No. 1/13)
- Pedagogical Standard of Primary Education in the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette, Nos. 63/08, 90/10)
- Pedagogical Standard of Secondary School Education in the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette, Nos. 63/08, 90/10).
How additional support is understood within the country context
Additional support refers to suitable education programmes and suitable types of support, i.e. additional help from educational rehabilitators in additional rehabilitation and education programmes. This also includes professional support and spatial, pedagogical and didactic adjustment in order to ensure suitable education for children with developmental difficulties and improved quality of life and integration in community life after the end of schooling. Professionals in the education area who work with children with developmental difficulties include educational rehabilitators, speech and language therapists, social pedagogues, special teachers and other experts, such as kinesiotherapists, music therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, and pedagogical assistants, including sign language interpreters.
Furthermore, if necessary, a prolonged professional treatment or educational-rehabilitation procedure is organised after regular classes and it provides children with SEN with additional help in study, education and rehabilitation programmes, creative workshops and leisure activities.
A suitable education programme is developed and implemented for each pupil according to their skills, abilities and needs, regardless of whether they are placed in a mainstream class in a mainstream school, in a separate special class in a mainstream school or in a separate special school.
The suitable form of support also refers to securing pedagogical assistants for pupils who need support in accomplishing their school tasks and activities, and sign language interpreters for pupils with hearing impairments.
There has been an educational assessment procedure involving a multi-disciplinary team
Pupils with developmental difficulties in the elementary education system are educated in regular and special educational institutions. The enrolment process consists of a legally established procedure of assessing a child’s psychophysical state in order to determine a suitable education programme and form of schooling and the necessary support, methods and teaching tools during the period of compulsory education.
The enrolment of pupils with special needs in the compulsory elementary education system is based on the Regulation on the Process of Assessing the Psychophysical State of Children and Students and the Structure of Expert Committees (Official Gazette, Nos. 55/11 and 67/14). If necessary, the process of assessing the child’s psychophysical state can also be conducted subsequently, during regular education of children in primary and secondary schools. The expert committee which conducts the assessment is comprised of the school physician – school medicine specialist – and school staff members: a pedagogue or psychologist and/or an expert in the field of special education, and the class or subject teacher. The regional authority office or, in the case of the City of Zagreb, the city office for education, culture and sports issues a first-instance decision on a suitable education programme for each pupil. If the parent/guardian is not satisfied with the programme and form of schooling determined by the first-instance decision, they are entitled to appeal to the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, i.e. the second-instance committee. This committee reviews the first-instance procedure and takes all the professional documents into consideration. It consists of experts with extensive experience in the first-instance institutions. The second-instance committee can either reject or accept the parents’ appeal. If the case is not clear, the committee can also ask for a second expert opinion. If the appeal is accepted, the committee issues a new decision on a suitable education programme.
Teachers, in co-operation with the expert team and the school principal, as well as the competent regional office, need to make sure that the decision on a suitable education programme is implemented.
The multi-disciplinary team includes members from within and external to the pupil’s school
As mentioned previously, the expert committee that conducts the assessment comprises the school physician – school medicine specialist – and school staff members: a pedagogue or psychologist and/or an expert in the field of special education, and the class or subject teacher. If necessary, opinions and assessments from other experts outside of the school system are also used (depending on the pupil’s psychophysical state).
There is a legal document which describes the support the pupil is eligible to receive and which is used as the basis for planning
The regional authority office or, in the case of the City of Zagreb, the city office for education, culture and sports issues a first-instance decision on a suitable education programme for each pupil with SEN.
On the basis of this document, which must specify the type of suitable education programme according to the articles of the Regulation on Primary Education of Students with Developmental Disabilities (Official Gazette, No. 23/91), teams of experts in schools develop a suitable education programme for each child, which class and subject teachers then implement. This programme changes during the school year to adjust to the pupil’s progress. Teachers receive professional support from the Education and Teacher Training Agency’s mobile expert team (invited by the educational institution).
The official decision is subject to a formal, regular review process
The pupil’s psychophysical state is assessed and the suitable education programme is changed during the pupil’s education, according to their needs and educational progress. Changes happen most often during the transition from ISCED level 1 to ISCED level 2 and at the end of primary education, i.e. when the pupil is included in the career guidance procedure in order to continue with further education.
The decision on the suitable education programme issued during primary education is valid for secondary education. However, a revision during the secondary education period is also possible.
Actual data is available to verify the 80% benchmark.
No data is available on the number of support hours allocated to a pupil. Pupils with SEN in mainstream classes spend all their weekly time (100%) with their non-disabled peers. However, pupils can spend additional hours with rehabilitation experts outside of regular classes. This includes sessions with a speech therapist (offering support in speech and language development), an educational rehabilitator (offering support in senso-motoric development) and a social pedagogue (who helps with behavioural problems). If necessary, a pedagogical assistant and a sign language interpreter are present in all classes in order to support the pupil (if they need this type of support). Depending on the pupil’s individual needs, the school determines the number of hours the pupil must spend with rehabilitation experts. Each expert has their own individual programme for working with pupils.
Details on what the country proxy is
In the data tables, all pupils included in mainstream classes spend all their weekly time with their non-disabled peers (100%). Additional support is provided after regular classes (except for a differentiated approach during class, as explained earlier).
Why this proxy was used
Difficulties in using any proxy
Specific country issues in applying the proxy
Detailed description of what is meant by ‘out of formal education’ within the country’s data collection
The 2011 International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) defines 'Formal Education' as follows:
[…] education that is institutionalised, intentional and planned through public organizations and recognised private bodies and, – in their totality – constitute the formal education system of a country. Formal education programmes are thus recognised as such by the relevant national education or equivalent authorities, e.g. any other institution in cooperation with the national or sub-national educational authorities. Formal education consists mostly of initial education […] Vocational education, special needs education and some parts of adult education are often recognised as being part of the formal education system. Qualifications from formal education are by definition recognised and, therefore, are within the scope of ISCED. Institutionalised education occurs when an organization provides structured educational arrangements, such as student-teacher relationships and/or interactions, that are specially designed for education and learning.
(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011, 'International Standard Classification of Education ISCED 2011', p. 11).
Information on pupils considered out of education (i.e. those not in formal education as per the ISCED definition)
All pupils are considered to be in formal education until they enrol in any kind of secondary school programme. Children with severe developmental difficulties are considered to be in formal education in compulsory primary education programmes until the age of 21. This also includes children in institutions maintained by the education, health, social and justice sectors. These pupils are placed in separate special groups divided by age (7–11 years, 11–14 years, 14–17 years and 17–21 years).
In Question 5 of the data tables for Croatia on ‘Learners with an official decision of SEN’ and ‘Gender breakdown’, the data for all four of these groups is presented together, since the database does not differentiate these pupils by age.
Country definitions of formal, non-formal and informal education
As mentioned above, all pupils are considered to be in formal education. Mainstream schools and special schools have the obligation to provide home education, distance education and education in a healthcare institution, according to a suitable education programme and the pupil’s medical conditions and needs. Schools are also obliged to issue school reports and other necessary documents for each pupil enrolled.
Sources of data from non-educational sectors – i.e. social, justice, health
The Ministry’s database contains information from all institutions, maintained not only by the education sector, but also by the social, justice and health sectors. The institutions need to implement suitable programmes, depending on the pupils’ needs, and according to the laws and regulations. As explained previously, children with severe developmental difficulties remain in the formal education system until the age of 21. After they turn 21, pupils with severe developmental difficulties are placed in the care of the social care system as adult users. This has been the case in Croatia for about 40 years (from the first reform in the 1980s, which dealt with the integration of children with developmental difficulties into the regular education system).
Note: The Republic of Croatia is working to improve the legislation which refers to children with SEN, according to the latest educational policies on inclusive education for children with SEN.
The data collection covers all sectors of education, including numbers for the pupil population in the private sector.
Private sector education in the country
In the Republic of Croatia, educational institutions can be public or private. Public institutions are funded and owned by local and regional self-government units or the state. Private institutions are funded and owned by natural or legal persons and they are recognised by the educational authority on the state level, i.e. the competent ministry. Private schools are part of the education system and are subject to the same legal obligations as public schools.
Pupil population counted for each relevant question
The data from private schools is counted together with the data from public schools. They are not separated in the Ministry’s database.
Usual pupil age ranges in the country at ISCED level 1: 7 to 10
Usual pupil age ranges in the country at ISCED level 2: 11 to 15
Note: The system described applies to the current dataset, but the legislation has changed recently.