A short presentation of the Special Education Centre
A short history of the organization
The first department of the Special Education Centre Janez Levec was founded on September 2, 1911 when the Regional School Council of what was then Austro-Hungarian Empire issued decree nr. 5908, thus allowing an auxiliary class to be formed at the IV. Elementary School for Boys located in Prule in Ljubljana. Since then, the once ''auxiliary'' class has become a Special Education Centre, having developed into the biggest organization of its kind in Slovenia through the past century.
Founder of the Centre: City of Ljubljana
Status of the Centre: Public institution – a special education school
The Centre is funded by:
A. Ministry of Education and Sport
A. City of Ljubljana
B. Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia
C. Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs (Labour and Employment Centre Janez Levec)
D. Sponsors and donors
A. Special education elementary school (Levstikov trg)
B. Special education elementary school (Dečkova ulica)
C. Special education departments in Jarše
D. Home for children with special needs
E. Specialized mobile pedagogical service
F. Labour and Employment Centre Janez Levec
2008 in numbers:
In 2008, our schools and home had 329 pupils and 159 employees (specialists and others) alongside 415 pupils being attended to by our specialized mobile pedagogical service (20 mobile special education teachers). The Labour and Employment Centre Janez Levec had 7 employees attending to 14 users.
Tutoring and educational programmes
Our centre offers three officially recognized educational programmes, additional expert assistance through special arrangements of regular education programmes and a social security Programme of guidance, care and employment under special conditions. All these programmes, alongside the individual education plan designed especially for every individual pupil, aim to approach the pupil's learning abilities, as the success of pupils in achieving their goals leads to an improved self-image and helps make the transition into independent life and work more successful.
A. Modified education programme with educational standards at a lower level
Programme characteristics: This programme is intended for children with mild mental disabilities. It is designed in a way that modifies and somewhat lowers the levels of knowledge required by mainstream elementary schools. The number of pupils in one class is lower and they are taught by a special teacher. Pupils generally take part in this programme between the ages of 6 and 15, although they are presented with the option of continuing the programme for three more years. We offer this programme at both our elementary schools (at Levstikov trg and Dečkova ulica).
B. Special education programme
Programme characteristics: This programme is intended for children with moderate or severe mental disabilities. The programme has no prescribed levels of acquired knowledge and the final goal is set individually for each pupil. We lay great stress on improving the pupils' ability to adapt and their working skills. Pupils generally take part in this programme between the ages of 6 and 18, although they are presented with the option of continuing the programme for three more years. We offer this programme at both our elementary schools (Levstikov trg and Dečkova ulica), as well as in our educational departments in Jarše.
C. Tutoring programme
Programme characteristics: This programme is intended for pupils attending any of our three schools and pupils attending prevocational training who are staying in our home due to their social status or the distance to their hometown being too great. The main objectives of this programme are centred on helping pupils with their studies, strengthening and shaping their adaptive behaviour, helping them acquire social and working skills and experience and trying to aid them in entering the adult world of partnership and work-related commitment.
D. Special educational support is offered by specialized mobile teachers in mainstream elementary schools. This support is generally offered to special needs pupils with specific learning disabilities.
E. The social security Programme of guidance, care and employment under special conditions is offered by our subsidiary centre, the Labour and Employment Centre Janez Levec. It is aimed at adults with moderate or severe mental disabilities who are given the chance to work alongside our personnel in graphic design (bookbinding).
Enrolment into our programmes
The curriculum of mainstream schools may be too difficult for some pupils to follow and it frequently occurs that the parents themselves are the first to notice this. Doctors and experts at mainstream schools also play an important role in recognizing such pupils in their preschool years or the first three years of their elementary schooling. When parents decide to send a child to a school with modified education programme and educational standards at a lower level, they need to forward their application for such enrolment to the National Education Institute of Slovenia in order to begin the SEN referral process. The SEN Referral Commission then issues an expert report on the placement of the pupil and the most suitable educational programme for him or her. The administrative body, in this case the SEN Referral Commission with the National Education Institute, then delivers a SEN Guidance Order based on the aforementioned expert opinion. The parents can appeal against this Order with the Ministry of Education and Sport. The SEN Guidance Order determines which programme the pupil will be placed in and whether he or she should be transferred from the mainstream school into a special needs school. The same procedure applies for enrolment into the Special education programme and the Tutoring programme. The school to which the pupil has been assigned undertakes the obligation to prepare an individual educational plan for this pupil within 30 days of placement. The parents have the right to take part in the preparation of this educational plan.
Our main objectives in working with young people:
- to introduce substitutive educational programmes based on the recognition and strengthening of the child's abilities and positive self-image and to enable the pupils to fulfil their needs and develop their independence,
- to introduce new educational programmes for children with special needs who have been pushed to the margins of society by dramatic family circumstances.
- to respond fast and persistently to all types of abuse and stigmatization of children and young people with special needs,
- to develop and encourage a support system for enabling children to enroll into those education programmes that will best develop their psychological and physiological abilities,
- to support the introduction of new programmes at the lower levels of professional education and training for graduates of special education elementary schools and to monitor their achievements until they have taken up their first employment.
Yearly projects for the young:
- The ''Play with me'' festival. Its main goal is to enable special needs children to enjoy activities alongside other children their age. The festival consists of three parts: a football tournament, a four day festival in the centre of Ljubljana and a national art competition ending in an exhibition in the Ljubljana castle.
- Holiday activities. The main goal is to enable children and young people with no other opportunity for summer activities and no supervision during that period to spend quality time together.
- The ''School for life'' camp is a camp for young people with special needs. The activities are mainly aimed at encouraging a positive and responsible attitude of children and young people to themselves and the environment. Following the methods of experience-based learning the pupils use their experience to accustom themselves to independent life outside of schools and their home environment. These camps are organized by all our units.
- International exchange of pupils. The main goal is to get to know the world beyond the borders of Slovenia and meet new friends through creative activities. This project is supported by the European Union.
- Special Olympics. The main goal is to socialize while promoting physical education and psychophysical activities.
- Europe in school. The main goals of this project are to enable young people to develop personal and social skills, knowledge and competence which will aid them in responding to challenges of modern societies in the enlarged Europe.
- Animal activities (AAA, AAT). The main goal of these activities is to stimulate physical, emotional and cognitive functions and help our pupils achieve better results in their school work.
- Functional learning. The main goal of this programme is to help pupils ''learn for life'' as it is intended for pupils with severe mental disabilities and undeveloped speech.
- Elements of the Montessori method. The main characteristics emphasized by the Montessori method are confidence and independence. The latter is encouraged by teaching the child practical skills and at the same time enabling him or her to exercise control over his or her own learning process.
- On the threshold of independence. The main goal is to prepare young people living in our home so that they can enter adulthood and find employment. This is achieved by including them in various activities.
Other services of our Centre include:
A. Social Service matters (subsidies, grants, welfare, counselling...)
B. psychological counselling and psychological assistance
C. physiotherapeutical assistance
D. logopedical care
E. psychiatric assistance with mental health problems
Our motto in working with young people:
To ensure that all our pupils and young people are given the same opportunities for their personal and intellectual development and to enable them the highest possible degree of socialization and normalization within the wider community.