“Inclusion is a concept that we have been able to accept from abroad rather than having time to develop it. Although the process of inclusion is supported by the Ministry of Education and several professional meetings have been organised on the topic, and scientific and professional contributions and books have been published in the last decade, but the concept is still a source of amazement both in public and in school practice."
The country report, as can be seen from the sentences highlighted above, discusses in a very reflective way the practice of Slovenian public policy and the institutional system related to inclusion, formulating the following problem focuses:
“The experts observation opinion is that although various system level solutions are in place (e.g. financial support for students with lower SES, expert order with instructions for inclusion of individual SEN students, program adaptation on national and individual levels, additional teachers for SEN students in school, reduced number of students in class when SEN students is included), these do not ensure meeting quality education standards in the practice."
Main Parts of the Document
After the presentation of the institutional system with the purpose of international comparison, we can get acquainted with specific Slovenian national aspects related to the issue in focus, proposed to be processed in three thematic groups. First, Characteristics by the level of education, namely: Early childhood education and care (ECEC) and transition to the compulsory education; Primary school; Upper secondary education; second, Characteristics by the education system and governance, including those of Education legislation and Teacher policy, and third, Social dimension, all of them supported with findings of background materials (for example, the chapter on legislation contains links to 12 different guides and background documents).
This is followed by the national terminology section of the document, entitled Terminology and its national context: Diversity, Equality, Equity, Inclusion, Inclusive Education, Special educational needs (SEN) or special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
After that, the report identifies local stakeholders, presenting institutional leaders; schools (kindergartens) as an organisation; supporting organisations - discussing in detail the work of guidance services - and then, the role of parents and how they can or cannot participate. To make it comparable to other country reports, various actors (social workers, psychologists, guidance specialists, police, etc.) are evaluated on a 4-point scale.
Then, the material presents national indicators related to the effectiveness of inclusive education, analysing what results have been achieved and what additional objectives are in place to achieve the goal of evidence-based education development.
The document concludes with the formulation of learning objectives and recommendations, followed by a rich appendix presenting the data processed.
Among the related Slovenian learning needs, the document presents separately the issues related to young people with low socio-economic status (in general) and the issues arising from the high proportion of SEN students in vocational schools (i.e. much more focussed on the latter, but more general , however, we see detailed questions covering many aspects).
Under the heading European learning perspective, the authors explain by answering questions what specific focuses they work on during the development and how they can contribute to knowledge sharing with the Slovenian experience; reflecting throughout on the reference framework developed by Downes et al. (Structural Indicators for Inclusive Systems in and around Schools, 2017).
The concept of educational inequalities is captured in the report on page 10: “Inequality in the education is, when on one hand educational activities are conducted regardless specific (physical and/or mental) health and developmental, cultural, socio-economic and any other circumstances students may have and/or on the other hand when student’s circumstances are to easily used as an excuse for not achieved educational standards although student would be able with relevant support to reach higher."
The report as a whole is a conscious reflection on the problem and challenge posed here, drawing on a wealth of factual material and literature, bearing in mind the methodological requirements of evidence-based development.