04 SES 13 B, Challenges in Inclusive Education in Secondary Schools – a Global Perspective
Primary school in Austria runs compulsory from grade 1 to 4. Transition from primary to secondary school taking place as early as the age of 10. Students are distributed among regular or academic secondary schools, with direct consequences on their successive career tracks in education and predetermined impact on their later societal status. This early division of children has a long history, dating back to even the Danube monarchy and in the early 20th century (Luciak, Biewer 2011). In 1993 Austria established the right of parents of children with disabilities to select whether their child attends a special or integrative school setting. In 1997 this right to select was extended the level of secondary education for grades 5-8 (Biewer 2006). This right of choice is undermined by several structural factors, which are strongly connected with the selective structure of the general schooling system. Despite signing and ratifying the UNCRPD, Austria is still clinging to the use of the term “integration” instead of “inclusion” which is reflected in the translation of the UNCRPD into German. Making such a pivotal choice at an early stage for all students affects the education process of students with disability in a negative way, even more so than for other vulnerable groups It can be a cause of intensifying marginalization processes. Though legislation allows integrative classrooms in academic secondary schools also, they are extremely rare. Additionally, the transition from primary to secondary education might cause students who were integrated in primary schools to being transferred to special schools at the age of ten. Those who stay in integrative classrooms face a number of additional difficulties (Biewer, Böhm, Schütz 2016). In this regard, the educational environment of non-disabled students is of special interest as well. The classroom climate can be affected by losing all those students who used to stabilize it at primary school levels. Students with intellectual disabilities and multiple disabilities are disadvantaged more than other groups, and those who can rely on a strong parental background have more chances to get involved in integrated settings, that those with migration background or socioeconomic disadvantages (Kramann, Biewer 2015). This paper combines a discussion and critical reflection of the impact of inclusive and segregative school structures, with an analysis of existing quantitative and newly selected qualitative data on the impact of transition processes from primary to secondary education for students with disabilities.
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