7.2 Adapted tuition and special needs education

All tuition must be adapted; this principle covers both ordinary tuition and special needs education. In ordinary tuition, pupils are not entitled to special adaptation. Special needs education, which is enshrined in Section 5-1 of the Education Act, is a more comprehensive form of adapted tuition. Under this statutory provision, pupils are entitled to specially adapted tuition.

Relationship between adapted tuition and special needs education


Adapted tuition

Adapted tuition is an abiding principle throughout primary and secondary education and is enshrined in the Education Act. The Act stipulates that tuition should be adapted to the abilities and personal circumstances of each pupil, apprentice and training candidate. This means that schools should allow for variations between pupils by adapting the learning environment, methodology and pedagogy.

Special needs education

Pupils and training candidates who do not benefit sufficiently from ordinary tuition are entitled to special needs education. Special needs education could involve schemes relating to progression and working methods, deviations from the curriculum, teachers with particular qualifications, or organisational adaptation.

Whether or not a pupil benefits sufficiently from ordinary tuition is a matter of judgement. In order to make a decision, the school must assess the ordinary tuition and ascertain how each pupil can sufficiently benefit from it.

The quality of the ordinary tuition is a factor in determining whether a pupil is entitled to special needs education. The teacher-to-pupil ratio, the teacher’s capabilities, class size and methodology may all affect the number of pupils who require special needs education. It is therefore important that schools make a systematic effort in this area.

Entitlement to special needs education does not extend to pupils who learn faster or more than the average pupil. The principle of adapted tuition, not special needs education, should be applied to such pupils. Pupils performing on a high academic level, requiring additional challenges are therefore not covered in this chapter.