- Children with special educational needs in the Netherlands: number, characteristics and school career
- Educational Research
- Volume | Issue number
- 52 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
The Kohnstamm Instituut
Background: Several barriers are hampering the provision of adequate education to students with special educational needs in mainstream primary schools. It is not clear how many and which students in the Netherlands are considered children with special educational needs. The problems that make teachers consider children to have special educational needs and the effect of different types of problems on the school career have not often been addressed in research studies. Furthermore, contextual factors, like teachers' attitudes on inclusion and the number of students with special needs in the class may influence the school career of children with special educational needs.
Purpose: This study aimed to examine the proportion of Dutch students in mainstream primary schools with special educational needs, their literacy and numeracy attainment levels, the likelihood of referral to special education and effects of teachers' attitudes towards inclusion and of the percentage of students with special needs in class.
Sample: We use data on 8237 students with special educational needs in mainstream primary education from two consecutive measurements of a large cohort study in the Netherlands called PRIMA.
Results: We found that, according to the teachers, on average 26% of the students in their classes had special educational needs. Cognitive problems had a much stronger effect on the school career than social-emotional and physical problems. As expected, teachers with a positive attitude towards the inclusion of students with special educational needs referred fewer children to special education than teachers with less positive attitudes towards inclusion. Furthermore, the likelihood of a student being referred to a special school was reduced as the number of students with special needs in the class increased.
Conclusions: Depending on factors in the learning context, special educational needs of a child may or may not be recognised. Consequently, children's special educational needs may not always be sufficiently catered for.
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