Special Needs Education in Denmark

In depth information about the provisions for children with special needs: details on registering and enrolling at schools and resources available to children with special educational needs...

In Denmark all children are entitled to ten years of education, and this includes children with special educational needs.

Children in Primary and Lower Secondary school whose development requires special help or support can receive support from the Ministry of Education for at least nine hours a week.

The Education Ministry has more on Special Education

Special needs educational services are provided by the municipality. It is provided in many different ways, depending on the child's needs. As far as possible, children with special needs are taught in mainstream schools (Folkeskole). Teachers must be qualified to teach all children, including those with disabilities, as around ten per cent of children require some kind of special education.

Some schools specialise in special needs education. Children with special needs can also receive an education that supplements or substitutes for participation in standard education; or they can be taught in special classes that focus on dyslexia, ADD, intellectual disabilities, hearing problems, visual impairment and so on.

Special classes are provided for children with both intellectual and physical disabilities.

Accessibility

Not all schools are accessible to children with physical disabilities, although under Danish law, new buildings must comply with the regulations relating to accessibility for people with disabilities.

Registering and Enrolling for Special Needs Education

Pre-school

Special needs education and support for pre-school children is only available to those with speech or language difficulties, and is usually provided through the help of a speech or hearing therapist. The educational-psychological advisory service (PPR) assesses the child every six months.

Primary school

It is the responsibility of the local authority to provide support and education to children with special educational needs at primary school.

Normally parents can contact the educational-psychological advisory service (PPR) in the local municipality to organise special education assistance; however, this may be done by a teacher or a health visitor if deemed necessary. The child undergoes an educational-psychological assessment, and a proposal is made by the PPR concerning the type of support required. In some cases, the PPR also issues a written report on the child's educational needs.

There is close coordination between PPRs and schools, as the PPR provides special educational resources to the mainstream education system; for example, technical aids and teaching materials.

In the majority of cases, children are integrated into mainstream schools; however, if a child has significant special learning needs that cannot be catered for in a mainstream school, they may attend a school more appropriate to their needs.

The role of the PPR

The PPR ensures the provision of an appropriate education for each child, following an assessment of the child's educational needs. Any decisions made regarding the child's education are made after consultation with the parents, who must give their consent to any special educational assistance.

If parents do not agree with a decision related to special education and support for their child, they can file a complaint with the Special Education Appeals Board (Klagenævnet for specialundervisning):

Reviews of a child's situation

The child's situation is reassessed annually. The Educational Record contains documentation about the counselling process and the child's strengths, interests, and expectations for the future and requirements for development.

Secondary school

Following the period of compulsory education (ten years), children attend upper secondary school. Where possible, pupils with disabilities attend mainstream schools and specific education programmes are available.

In the tenth grade the local municipality (kommune) can suggest that the child takes part in a bridge-building programme which combines guidance and teaching. Youth programmes consist of general upper secondary education and vocational upper secondary education.

All pupils are offered vocational training; children with special needs might be offered a longer period, or more comprehensive training. Support for pupils with special needs in upper secondary schools is provided through the special educational assistance (SPS) programme at the school.

Private schools

Private independent schools are required to offer opportunities for special education that are identical to the services offered in Folkeskole.

The Danish Government offers grants to private independent schools to support the education of pupils with disabilities, as well as that of bilingual pupils. This takes the form of special education, support education in Danish for bilingual pupils, and coverage of extra expenses for special education, practical support, aids and transport of pupils with severe disabilities.

Services and Benefits

Services and benefits for people with disabilities are financed by the public authorities. A home help can also be provided if the local authority considers it necessary. Local authorities also offer personal assistance schemes and socio-pedagogical support for those who need it. Reimbursement of extra costs may be granted depending on the specific situation (this can include extra transport, or help with day-to-day tasks within the home).

The Disabled Peoples Organisations Denmark (DPOD) aims to ensure that education is accessible for all children with disabilities, or to provide alternatives.

Leisure Facilities for Children and Young People with Special Needs

Facilities for children

There are various leisure possibilities for children with special needs, especially in Copenhagen. Leisure and club facilities include:

  • Recreation centers and KKFO (Fritidshjem)
  • Core groups (basisgrupper)
  • Club facilities (specialklubber)
Special and customised club facilities (specialkluber) offer leisure activities for people with physical or mental disabilities or with other special needs. Contact local municipalities for information on the facilities available.

Facilities for young people

For young people with extensive general learning difficulties the following clubs provide facilities:

For adolescents with developmental disorders (such as autism):

For young people with extensive hearing difficulties:
  • Absalon (for sign language users - includes a junior section) Tel: +45 40 25 05 17 (SMS only) email
For young people with extensive general learning difficulties:

  • The Integrated Institutional Basic school centres and club Tel: 32 55 80 53 email
  • Sjælør Leisure Recreation Centres for youth Tel: 36 17 82 81 email