Looking after and supporting children with special needs in basic education

Last update 18.10.2018

Attending school in the basic education system is compulsory for all children from the age of 4. Basic education consists of 9 years of school, divided into 4 levels. As a general rule, each level in the basic-education system lasts 2 years.

When a child finds it difficult to keep up with the normal pace of their class, support measures tailored to their learning issues are proposed. These range from adapting teaching strategies and specific support by teachers assigned to their class, to placement in a class in a special school.

Who is concerned

Any child in the basic education system who is experiencing difficulty in keeping up with the normal pace of their class.

How to proceed

Local support measures  

For children with learning difficulties, each level may be extended by one year.

If it is obvious that a child is unable to acquire the required core skills in two years, an adapted programme, covering a period of 3 years, is established by the teaching staff. In this case, the child is not required to repeat a year, but receives an education that is tailored to their learning needs.

Teachers specialising in working with children with special needs (I-EBS) support class teachers and the teaching staff in implementing the adapted teaching programme.

The tasks assigned to an I-EBS teacher include:

  • conducting an initial assessment of the children in the school requiring support, together with the teaching staff;
  • supporting children in the school with special educational needs, in keeping with an inclusive approach;
  • assisting children in their class with special educational needs;
  • conferring with the class teacher and the teaching team on matters relating to the children in question;
  • communicating information on their children's progress to the parents of children with special educational needs;
  • advising staff from the relevant child education and care department (Service d’éducation et d’accueil pour enfants) on matters relating to the children in question;  
  • advising the teaching staff on working with the children in question;
  • coordinating the implementation of measures for children with special educational needs in the school;
  • working closely with staff from the school and from the child education and care department to formulate an approach for catering for children with special educational needs, as part of the establishment of the PDS;
  • liaising with the Inclusion Committee (Commission d’inclusion – CI).

Regional support measures  

A 'Children with special or specific educational needs' support team (ESEB) is set up at the regional level. The team comprises professionals drawn from various disciplines.

The role of the ESEB is to assess and monitor the support being given to children with special needs once the I-EBS has established – after conferring with the teaching staff and the parents concerned – that the education provided by the school is insufficient. To fulfil their role, the ESEB works closely with the school, the I-EBS concerned and, when necessary, the relevant school medical/social support team and special education establishments.

With regard to children with specific needs, the ESEB usually conducts an initial intervention when the situation has reached a critical point, followed by a general diagnostic assessment. Further to that assessment, a decision is taken, to:

  • provide the class teacher, the teaching staff, the I-EBS, the school and the parents concerned with guidance and advice on implementing the differentiation and support measures proposed by the Inclusion Committee;
  • or take charge of the child with special educational needs themselves, in accordance with the decision of the Inclusion Committee;
  • or make a recommendation to the Inclusion Committee to involve a special education establishment.

Every establishment in the basic education system has an Inclusion Committee. The role of the Inclusion Committee is to define the most suitable form of support for children who need it either at the parents' request, or at the request of a teacher or a representative of a drop-in centre (maison relais), provided, of course, that the parents have given their consent.

The Inclusion Committee is composed of:

  • the deputy principal of the establishment, who chairs the Committee;
  • a teacher, as Secretary;
  • three members of the ESEB concerned;
  • a representative of the minister responsible for Children and Youth Affairs;
  • a representative from the Special Education and Counselling Centres (Centres de compétences en psycho-pédagogie spécialisée).

The CI has a file prepared, which includes:

  • a diagnostic assessment of the child's needs;
  • the aid available to them;
  • a tailored educational plan.

The plan is submitted to the parents for their approval. The CI has the plan reviewed annually and revises it to incorporate any changes deemed necessary to ensure the child continues to make progress at school.

The plan may consist of:

  • adapting the class teacher's in-class strategies in cooperation with the teaching staff;
  • in-class assistance by one or more of the ESEB members working with the teaching staff for the duration of the intervention;
  • temporarily transferring the child to another class for certain subjects;
  • special ambulatory care at a Special Education and Counselling Centre;
  • the organisation of specific learning workshops, or learning workshops to supplement normal schooling;
  • special schooling in a class in a Centre;
  • enrolment in a school in Luxembourg or abroad.

The plan may also mention additional forms of financial aid designed to ensure academic support for the child. If applicable, it may provide for necessary adaptations and adjustments to the skills to be acquired and the means of assessment to be used.

Where points 4, 6 and 7 of the personalised educational plan (plan de prise en charge individualisé) are concerned, the file must be forwarded for approval to the National Inclusion Commission (Commission nationale d’inclusion – CNI).

Children with special needs may receive their schooling:

  • in the normal basic education system (with or without special ambulatory support);
  • through a mixed arrangement – i.e. schooling divided between a normal basic education school and in a special education school;
  • in a special education school (while remaining enrolled in their school of origin);
  • in an accredited schooling establishment in Luxembourg or abroad.

To help them choose the most suitable form of schooling for their child, parents receive guidance and support from the Inclusion Committee (CI), which proposes an educational plan tailored to their child's needs.

For every child that is brought to their attention, the CI appoints a case worker from among their number who, together with the deputy regional director, liaises with:

  • the school's staff;
  • staff involved in extracurricular activities;
  • the members of the ESEB concerned;
  • the members of the school medical/social support team concerned.

National support measures  

Eight Special Education and Counselling Centres promoting inclusive education in schools, plus an Agency, have been established:

  • the Centre for the Development of Sight-related Skills (Centre pour le développement des compétences relatives à la vue – CDV);
  • the Centre for the Development of Motor Skills (Centre pour le développement moteur – CDM);
  • the Centre for Children and Young People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Centre pour enfants et jeunes présentant un trouble du spectre de l’autisme – CTSA);
  • the Centre for Intellectual Development (Centre pour le développement intellectuel – CDI);
  • the Speech Therapy Centre (Centre de Logopédie – CL);
  • the "Grande-Duchesse Maria Teresa" Centre for the Development of Learning Experiences (Centre pour le développement des apprentissages "Grande-Duchesse Maria Teresa" – CDA);
  • the Centre for Social and Emotional Development (Centre pour le développement socio-émotionnel – CDSE);
  • the Centre for High-Potential Children and Young People (Centre pour enfants et jeunes à haut potentiel – CEJHP);
  • the Agency for Transition to Independence (Agence pour la transition vers une vie autonome – ATVA).

Each Centre comprises the following units, which provide ambulatory or in-house support:

  • an education unit;
  • a diagnosis, guidance and monitoring unit;
  • a rehabilitation and therapy unit;
  • an administrative and technical unit.

The Centres can be involved at different levels, directing their action towards:

  • the development of the children or young people with special educational needs;
  • providing parents with information and support;
  • liaising with primary and secondary schools;
  • scientific research in special education and complementary disciplines;
  • networking in primary schools, secondary schools, and accredited organisations involved in social work, family-related matters and therapy;
  • networking at national and international level.

All applications for special ambulatory support or special schooling are referred to the National Inclusion Commission (Commission nationale d’inclusion – CNI).

The application may be submitted by an Inclusion Committee – in the form of a file with supporting documents – provided the parents have given their written consent.

The supporting documents must provide information on the child's or young person's special needs, and describe the recommended support measures.

A reasoned application may also be submitted by an accredited organisation involved in social work, family-related matters or therapeutics, or by the child's or young person's attending physician. Again, supporting documents must be provided and the parents must have given their consent.

Parents and children who have reached the age of majority may submit their application directly to the CNI.

The CNI will assess the merits of the application and rule on what further action should be taken.

After assessing the file, the CNI will rule on what further action should be taken and whether or not the case should be referred to one or more Centres for special diagnostic assessment.

The special diagnostic assessment is conducted under the aegis of the Centre(s) concerned.

Once the special diagnostic assessment has been completed, the CNI will review the file to ensure it meets all requirements, rule on what further action should be taken, and recommend the support measures to be implemented. The proposed support measures may not be implemented without the consent of the parent or the child who has reached the age of majority.

If the child's or young person's special educational needs require special support which cannot be provided by one of the Centres, the CNI may recommend enrolment in a schooling establishment in Luxembourg or abroad. In that case, the CNI will appoint a case manager who will be responsible for following up the file and the support measures.

School mediator

There is a mediation department that handles claims related to keeping children at risk of dropping out in school, the inclusion of children with special needs in schools, and the integration in school of children from migrant backgrounds.

Who to contact

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