On 23 January, the Minister of National Education, Children and Youth, Claude Meisch, presented the results of an evaluation of inclusive education in Luxembourg at a press conference.
An evaluation of the inclusion programme over the last five years
With the introduction of a new system for the care of pupils with specific needs in 2017 and 2018, Luxembourg has implemented a fundamental reform of school inclusion in Luxembourg, as Claude Meisch pointed out at the press conference: "We have been talking about reforming EDIFF for a long time, before the new system was introduced in 2018. A reform that has invested more skills, resources and opportunities in the education of children with specific needs. This is an investment in the future opportunities of all children and a big step towards inclusion in Luxembourg.
The care of children with specific needs is now organised on three levels: At national level, eight competence centres for specialised psycho-educational follow-up and a National Inclusion Commission (Commission nationale d'inclusion - CNI) have been established. At regional level, teams for the support of pupils with specific educational needs (ESEB) work with pupils, and at local level, a teacher specialised in the support of pupils with specific educational needs (I-EBS) can work directly in primary schools. In addition, the Inclusion Commission (CI) in primary and secondary education has been reorganised and a School Inclusion Commission (CIS) has been established.
Strengthening school inclusion through reform
Luxembourg is a leader in inclusive education. Since the reforms in 2017 and 2018, the Ministry of Education has created more than 700 new posts, doubling the resources for children with specifc needs compared to 2014/2015. Investments over the last five years have led to a steady increase in ambulatory care in the mainstream school system (from 0.72% of all pupils in 2014/15 to 0.85% of all pupils in 2020/2021) and a decrease in schooling in a competence centre (from 0.89% of all pupils in 2014/15 to 0.76% of all pupils in 2020/2021).
Evaluation shows acceptance of new system
The evaluation report consists of three parts: A survey with an online questionnaire, individual qualitative interviews with teachers, socio-educational staff and directors of primary education, secondary education and competence centres for specialised psycho-educational follow-up and an in-depth study by the National Inclusion Commission (CNI), in which all members and collaborators participated. In addition, a study was carried out by an external consultancy (EXIGO SA) on each of the competence centres for specialised psycho-educational follow-up.
The evaluation shows a high level of commitment and dedication from all groups of staff working with pupils with specific needs. The new system has been well received by education stakeholders.
Information and timeliness as key evaluation challenges
The evaluation of the provision for pupils with specific needs identified six areas for improvement. The most important of these are a reduction in the time it takes to receive care and better information about how the system works for those involved.
A law on well-being and inclusion
Over the past few months, a draft law has been prepared that takes into account the main aspects of evaluation. The various elements of the project were discussed with the directorates of the competence centres, primary and secondary education, the CGFP and OGBL unions and The national parent representation. The text will be submitted to the Council of Government in the coming weeks, with the aim of it coming into force at the start of the 2023/2024 school year.
- Maximum diagnostic time
Diagnosis is an important aspect of reducing delays. The creation of a file for each pupil concerned, in which the diagnosis of his or her needs is recorded, is already a major qualitative improvement in the care of children with special needs. At present, however, it takes an average of ten months before a pupil can be supported. The new law will introduce a four-week deadline for initial diagnosis in primary and secondary schools, and a three-month deadline for diagnosis by a Competence Centre. Once this initial diagnosis has been made, support will begin immediately, followed by a more detailed diagnosis if necessary.
- Additional support for parents by a reference person
At the level of support team for pupils with specific educational needs (ESEB), a contact person will take on additional responsibilities, including informing the pupil's parents of the measures taken to support their child. This person will be the point of contact between the student, parents and those involved in the individual support.
- Introduction of an Assistant for children with specific needs (A-EBS)
In order to support schools in the implementation of measures for the support of pupils with specific needs and to allow for a greater reactivity, an assistant for children with specific needs (A-EBS) will intervene in addition to the specialized teacher for pupils with specific needs (I-EBS). In the coming years, each school will be allocated one such A-EBS. The new law will allow the recruitment of A-EBS at DAP level.
- Creation of a National Service for Inclusive Education (SNEI)
A National Service for Inclusive Education (Service national de l'éducation inclusive - SNEI) will be set up to ensure good coordination and exchange between stakeholders. This service will promote inclusive education and the continuous improvement of the quality of care for pupils with specific needs.
Press release by the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth