Three-tiered support

Kuvassa on välitunnilla kolme alakouluikäistä oppilasta, joista yhdellä on pallo kädessä.

The three levels of support for learning and school attendance are general, intensified and special support.

General support

High-quality basic education is the foundation of a pupil’s learning and welfare. Learning difficulties and problems with school attendance are prevented by such means as differentiation of instruction, cooperation between teachers and with other staff, guidance and flexible modification of teaching groups. The needs of both the group and an individual pupil are accounted for in the instruction.

General support is the first response to a pupil’s need for support. Usually this means individual pedagogical solutions, guidance, and support measures which seek to improve the situation in an early stage as a part of daily school life. General support is provided directly as the need arises, and no specific assessments or decisions are required.

Intensified support

A pupil who needs regular support in learning or school attendance or several support forms simultaneously must be provided with intensified support on the basis of a pedagogical assessment and in accordance with a learning plan devised for them. The quality and quantity of the intensified support must be adjusted to the pupil’s individual needs. Intensified support is provided when general support is not enough, and it is continued for as long as the pupil needs it. A pupil’s intensified support is planned as a coherent whole. It is more substantial than general support and provided over a longer period of time. Usually the pupil also needs several support forms. Intensified support is provided as part of mainstream education using flexible teaching arrangements.

Special support

Special support is provided to pupils who otherwise cannot adequately achieve the goals set for their growth, development or learning. The purpose of special support is to provide the pupil with holistic and methodical support that allows them to complete compulsory education and lays a foundation for continuing studies after basic education. The pupil’s self-confidence, motivation to study, and possibilities of experiencing the joy of success and learning should be reinforced. The pupil’s participation and ability to assume responsibility for their studies should also be supported.

Special support consists of special needs education and other support needed by the pupil provided pursuant to the Basic Education Act. Special needs education and other support received by the pupil should form a coherent whole. All support forms referred to in the Basic Education Act may be used. Special support is provided within the scope of either general or extended compulsory education. The studies of a pupil receiving special support are arranged either by subjects or by activity areas. If the pupil’s studies are arranged by subjects, they study these subjects according to either the general syllabus or an individualised syllabus.

Forms of support for learning and school attendance

  • flexible teaching groups, for example as required by learning styles or time needed for learning
  • flexible teaching groups with parallel classes and similar
  • proactive remedial teaching that enables sufficient time for learning
  • learning plan
  • guidance counselling
  • remedial teaching
  • differentiation (scope, depth and pace of study)
  • modification of the learning environment
  • action-based methods
  • varying learning environments in and outside school
  • assistant services
  • different materials
  • team teaching

Guidance and assistance in teaching

The support and assistance provided by special needs teaching assistants is mainly directed at the entire teaching group.

As stated in the curriculum, the purpose of support, interpretation and assistant services is to guarantee the pupil the basic preconditions for learning and school attendance and a learning environment that is as accessible as possible. The support provided must promote the pupil’s coping skills and independence and the development of positive self-confidence. The objective is to support an individual pupil so that they can assume greater responsibility for their learning and school attendance. The special needs teaching assistant works together with not only teachers but also school social workers and psychologists as well as families.

The City of Kuopio’s policy is that all special classes have at least one special needs teaching assistant, and in exceptional cases, there may be more than one. The teaching assistant resource of special classes can be used to the benefit of the entire school, rather than tying the assistants to a single special class.

In addition, teaching assistants also support pupils needing general, intensified and special support in mainstream education classes. Each school has access to special needs teaching assistant resource determined for one school year at a time.

For a justified reason, the pupil has a possibility to receive a personal assistant/special needs teaching assistant or interpreter. These reasons may include physical or sensory disability, which means that the pupil continuously needs assistance during the school day.

Guardians of children in special classes or profiled special classes do not need to apply for a personal assistant, as the need for assistance is determined for the class as a whole. In this, such aspects as the number of pupils in the class, the number of teaching staff and the need for assistance of the pupils in the class are accounted for.

In questions related to support, interpretation and assistant services, contact the pupil’s school.

Part-time special needs education

Basic education pupils who have difficulties in learning or in school attendance are entitled to part-time special needs education in connection with other instruction.

Part-time special needs education is provided in Kuopio as small group teaching; twin teaching, which means that the group’s activities are guided ensuring that the interaction promotes the learning of all pupils and the processing of different themes and development areas; and, if necessary, as individual teaching.

Part-time special needs education is provided for pupils who have, for example, difficulties with linguistic or mathematical skills, learning difficulties in individual subjects, or problems with their study skills, interaction skills or school attendance.

A pupil may also receive part-time special needs education while receiving special support and studying in a special class. The adequacy and effectiveness of part-time special needs education received by the pupil as well as their need for further part-time special needs education are assessed as a part of the pedagogical assessment and statement. The objectives and provision of part-time special needs education are also recorded in the learning plan and HOJKS (individual educational plan).

Individualised syllabus

The individualisation of the syllabus for a subject means that the achievement level for the pupil’s learning is set to match their capabilities.

In Kuopio, all children are offered the opportunity to start school aiming to achieve the objectives of the general syllabus. When a child is granted extended compulsory education, a justified exception may be made from this, based on a physician’s or psychologist’s report. The individualisation of the syllabus is never the primary solution. Support must be offered to the pupil as early as possible, for example through content differentiation, only focusing on the core contents of the subject.

In grades 1 and 2, the syllabus for an individual subject will not be individualised. A subject syllabus may only be individualised from the beginning of grade 3 at the earliest. The precondition for each individualisation decision is that the subject has been studied for at least one school year and that the pupil has received intensified support in accordance with the criteria described in the National Core Curriculum for Basic Education of the Finnish National Agency for Education.

Before the syllabus in a subject is individualised, a multiprofessional pedagogical report must be prepared. It must state that the pupil cannot achieve the objectives of mainstream education and detail the support measures given to the pupil and their effectiveness. When processing the report, information on the pupil’s cognitive capacity and other possible special learning difficulties obtained through a psychologist’s examination must always be available.

The objectives, assessment principles, learning material and teaching methods of an individualised subject are defined in the individual educational plan (HOJKS). After a decision on special support associated with the individualisation of a subject has been made, the pupil may study in a mainstream instruction group with the support of part-time special needs education, partly in a small group or in a special class, or entirely in a special class, if this is found to be the best option for the pupil.