Germany background information


How the official decision of special educational needs (SEN) in the country relates to the agreed EASIE operational definition

Operational definition

An official decision leads to a child/learner being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.


Criteria for an official decision of SEN

  • There has been an educational assessment procedure involving a multi-disciplinary team
  • The multi-disciplinary team includes members from within and external to the child’s/learner’s (pre)school
  • There is a legal document which describes the support the child/learner is eligible to receive and which is used as the basis for planning
  • The official decision is subject to a formal, regular review process

Educational assessment procedure in the country

Responsibility for the procedure lies with the school supervisory authorities. Either the authorities themselves have the competence for special educational needs, as well as sufficient experience in the field of educational support for people with disabilities, or they consult experts in the field of special educational support.

How the multi-disciplinary team is comprised in the country

Multi-professionalism is mainly achieved by teachers from different disciplines working together, as well as through co-operation with specialists from other fields (psychology, medicine, social education, therapy, youth work, etc.). These measures are supported in a variety of ways by teaching assistant services as part of integration assistance. At the same time, it should be noted that the structure of funding organisations varies widely among the Länder.

The legal document used in the country to outline the support that the child/learner is eligible to receive

Each child’s/learner’s individual development and performance, as well as their working and social behaviour, are constantly monitored and assessed. Assessment for special education is based on multi-disciplinary reports. Parents can apply for their child to be assessed.

How the document is used as the basis for planning in the country

The individual education plan is drafted yearly or twice a year. Standardised achievement tests to assess children’s/learners’ performance or learning development in certain subjects or grades are not given at Land level. Continuous assessment of the performance of children/learners with SEN takes place in special schools in a similar form to that of general schools. Parents can object to a placement decision.

The formal, regular review process in the country

See above.


Proxy indicator for the 80% benchmark used for the country’s data collection

The EASIE work uses an 80% benchmark of inclusive education. This is defined as:

An inclusive setting refers to education where the child/learner with SEN follows education in mainstream classes alongside their mainstream peers for most – 80% or more – of the school week.

Proxy indicator used

Placement in a mainstream class implies over 80% or more.

Details on what the country proxy is

If a child/learner is placed in a mainstream class, it is assumed they spend the majority of their time with their non-disabled peers.

Why this proxy was used

No specific data is available on the actual time children/learners with SEN spend in a placement.

Difficulties in using the proxy

No difficulties.

Specific country issues in applying the proxy indicator

No issues.


Detailed description of what ‘out of formal education’ means within the country

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).

Do the country definitions of formal, non-formal and informal education differ from the ISCED definitions?

No, Germany uses the same definitions as ISCED.


Provision of data on private sector education

The data collection covers all sectors of education, including numbers for the child/learner population in the private sector.

Private sector education in the country

Germany has public and private sector education. Both types of institution exist side-by-side and co-operate with each other. Under the Basic Law, it is possible to establish private schools. This is combined with a guarantee of the private school as an institution. The constitutional law rules out a state monopoly on education.

Child/learner population counted for each relevant question

The data covers the public and private sectors.

Specific issues with providing data on private sector education and how these have been overcome in the data collection

The data collection must cover all sectors of education, including numbers for the child/learner population in the private sector.


ISCED level age ranges

The following are the most common (pre)school entrance ages and (pre)school leaving ages for the different ISCED levels:

Age range in the country at ISCED level 02 (pre-primary): 3 to 5

Age range in the country at ISCED level 1: 6 to 9

Age range in the country at ISCED level 2: 10 to 15

Age range in the country at ISCED level 3: 16 to 18



Additional remarks, comments or explanations on the country background information

Data on children/learners with SEN without an official decision in mainstream classes cannot be reported separately. In order not to stigmatise children/learners with mild special needs, the intention is not to make an official decision at an early date. An assessment team examines the child’s/learner’s special educational needs. The assessment leads to various forms of support provided by specialist teachers from regional counselling and support centres and classroom teachers, whether or not the children/learners get an official decision of SEN.


2012/2013 and 2014/2015 data background information

This country updated its background information for the 2014/2015 and 2016/2017 datasets. PDFs of the background information for the 2012/2013 dataset and the 2014/2015 dataset are available.

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