04 SES 08 B, Social Participation
Over the last decades, the education systems of Norway, the Netherlands, and Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium) have all moved towards more inclusive education. However, inclusive education has been implemented in different ways. Despite these large differences in the delineation of special education vs. mainstream education, labeling and classification of students with special needs, not much is known on the actual degree of inclusion of students with SEN. Consequently, this study focused on the actual, social participation of these students, with peer acceptance and number of reciprocal friends as indicators of social participation. In Norway, 37 7th grade students with SEN and 461 classmates; in the Netherlands, 29 7th grade students with SEN and 187 classmates; and in Flanders, 43 7th grade students with SEN and 469 classmates were selected for this study. Results indicated that, across education systems, students with SEN had more social difficulties compared to typically developing students. Contrary to our expectations, the social situation of students with SEN in the more inclusive Norwegian education system was not better than the social situations of the Dutch and Belgian students with SEN. Due to the differences in education systems per country, results have to be interpreted carefully.
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