04 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Exhibition
General Poster Session during Lunch
Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, has a long history of segregated education. Since 1970, the Flemish educational system developed a completely autonomous system of special schools divided in 8 types based on the pedagogical and didactical needs resulting from the specific kind of impairment, with very few links with regular schools (European Agency of Special Needs Education, 2003). Nowadays, almost 4.5% of the school-aged children are enrolled in special schools (Ministry of Education and Training, 2011). Integrated education, a form of co-operation between regular and special schools in which special education teachers give additional support to students with SEN who are included in a regular class, legally became an option in 1986. During the last decade, the number of students with SEN attending a regular school within the regulations of the integrated education program increased tenfold (Ministry of Education and Training, 2011). At the moment, 15% of the students regarded as having SEN are fulltime included in regular schools (European Agency of Special Needs Education, 2010). Inclusion has become a central aspect in debates and documents on policy reformation. Despite this recent attention for inclusion, inclusion in Flanders remains an understudied topic. Hardly anything is known about the effectiveness of the integrated education program.
In the past decades, several factors relevant for realizing succesful inclusion are put forward on the student level, the classroom level, the school level and the external level. At the student level, characteristics such as gender, age, socio-economic status, type and severity of disability, social and communicative skills and behavioral problems are often mentioned in this area (Frostad & Pijl, 2007; Skårbrevik, 2005). At the classroom level, inclusion is dependent on the attitudes of teachers and their competence and knowledge to be able to respond to the diversity of pupils (Flem & Keller, 2000). The school level deals with the ways in which schools organize their education and provide special services (Pijl & Meijer, 1991). The relationship between special and regular education, the role of special education, the availability of support provided from both internal and external services are key elements. With regard to external factors, public opinion is an important factor as it affects legislation, funding and financial regulation (Pijl & Meijer, 1997). Despite the large number of studies identifying factors as conditions for realizing inclusive education, there is a gap in the current knowledge base. The number of studies that identify factors that specifically affect non-academic outcomes is rather small and studies are mainly focused on factors at the student level.
In this study the implementation and the outcomes of inclusive education in Flanders are explored. More specific, we will investigate the academic and non-academic outcomes of the integrated education program and the factors on student, classroom and school level affecting these outcomes.
European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education (2003). Special Education across Europe in 2003. Trends in provision in 18 European countries. Brussels: Author. European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education (2010). Special Needs Education. Country Data 2010. Brussels: Author. Flem, A. & Keller, C. (2000). Inclusion in Norway: A study of ideology in practice. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 15, 188-205. Frostad, P. & Pijl, S. J. (2007). Does being friendly help in making friends? The relation between the social position and social skills of pupils with special needs in mainstream education. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 22, 15-30. Ministry of Education and Training (2011). Statistical yearbook on Flemish education 2010-2011. Brussels: Ministry of Education and Training. Pijl, S. J. & Meijer, C. J. (1997). Factors in inclusion: A framework. In S.J.Pijl, C. J. Meijer, & S. Hegarty (Eds.), Inclusive Education: A Global Agenda (pp. 8-13). London: Routledge. Skårbrevik, K. J. (2005). The quality of special education for students with special needs in ordinary classes. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 20, 387-401.
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