2.5.4 Content of cultural education within special needs education

As pupils with special educational needs generally attend mainstream schools, these children are taught according to age and educational ability alongside their able peers. The content of the curriculum is the same for all children, including the content of arts and cultural education.
(Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture [Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur] 2009, Schulorganisationsgesetz [School organisationregulations],
§§ 9,15,16)

The curriculum for grade 1 to 8 of general special schools and the curriculum for the hearing impaired, the visually impaired and severely handicapped children is adapted to their special needs. The special curriculum incorporates the educational content and aims for pre-school education
(Bundesministerium fürUnterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008a, 2008b, 2008c, 2008d).

It is up to special schools themselves to decide how much time they allocate to individual subjects within the framework of the curriculum for special education. It is not permitted to remove a subject from the curriculum of a school year. Arts and cultural education is an integral part of this curriculum
(Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008a, p. 7 f).

Culture and the arts in special schools

The following subjects are part of the curriculum of special education:

  • Music education
  • Art education
  • Technical crafts
  • Textile crafts

Music education [Musikerziehung]

Music education in special schools focuses on conveying 'the musical identity of Austria in the historical, regional and international context' and advocates 'the active involvement of artists and experts as well as establishing connections with regional and national cultural life in and outside of school'. This corresponds with the content of music education in lower secondary mainstream schools.
(Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008a, p. 63 f)

Art education [Bildnerische Erziehung]

Art education in special education 'should convey basic experiences of perception, of visual communication and of shape, should lead to activities based on experience and provide access to the art, visual media, environmental design and everyday aesthetics'.

Art education in special schools will improve 'the ability to perceive, communicate and experience'. It helps children with special needs to develop their 'imagination, fantasy and ability to design' and helps them to learn to express themselves. These processes are supported by 'meeting original works of art', by entering into 'dialogue with experts' and by visiting exhibitions, studios, galleries and museums.

Arts education in special schools helps children to develop the understanding of composition by bringing them into contact with architecture and design, and by becoming aware of more individual forms of expression like body language, fashion and make-up.
(Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008a, p. 69-73).

Technical crafts and Textile crafts [Technisches WerkenTextiles Werken]

In special schools Technical crafts and Textile crafts are integrated into one subject and give an action-oriented insight into the built-up environment, technology and product design
(Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008a, p. 74).

Generally Technical crafts and Textile crafts are less oriented towards art than Art education. An exception is Object reflection within Textile crafts which focuses on aesthetic reflection.
(Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008a, p. 74-84).

Movement and sport

In special schools Movement is geared towards the curriculum of mainstream schools. There is only a peripheral relation to dance. (Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008a, p. 85-92).

Extracurricular activities

In special schools the content of extracurricular activities such as Choral Singing, Instrumental Music and Drama are geared towards the primary and secondary curriculum respectively.
(Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008a, p. 97).

Hours

Nursery school

There is no specific curriculum for the nursery school level for special schools. Arts and cultural education therefore conforms to the general curriculum for mainstream nursery schools. (Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008f)

Grade 1 to 4

In grades 1 to 4  more time is allocated to compulsory arts and cultural education in special schools than in primary schools, while the total number of hours a week for all subjects is the same in both forms of education (90 hours). Table 1 shows the how these hours per week are divided. (Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008a, p. 16).

Grade

1.

2.

3.

4.

Special school (ASO)/Primary school (GS) ASO GS ASO GS ASO GS ASO GS
Music education 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 1
Art education 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 1
Technical crafts/Textile crafts 2 1 2 1 2

2

2 2
Movement and sport 3 3 3 3 3 2 3 2

Table 1: Comparison of hours per week for arts and cultural education subjects grades 1-4

Both in mainstream primary schools and in special schools 1-2 hours a week can be offered for non-compulsory art education activities. This can take the form of Choral Singing, Instrumental Music, Drama, Technical Crafts and Textile Crafts, Physical Education (Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008a, p. 16).

Grade 5 to 8

In grades 5 to 8 less time is allocated to compulsory arts and cultural education in special schools than in the mainstream education, while the total number hours a week for all subjects is 7,5% lower than in mainstream schools (111 hours). Table 2 shows how these hours are divided per week.
(Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008a, p. 18).

Hours per week for compulsory subjects from 5th to 8th grade

Special schools (ASO)/ Mainstream schools [Hauptschulen(HS)] ASO HS
Music education 4-10 6-11
Art education 4-11 7-12
Technical crafts/Textile crafts 4-11 7-12
Movement and sport 9-12 12-18

Table 2: Comparison of hours per week for arts and cultural education subjects grades 5-8

There is a great deal of flexibility for special schools to distribute the hours per week across the individual subjects and grades. Only the minimum and maximum limits for the individual subjects and the 111 total hours per week have been established (see Table 3)
(Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008a, p. 18).

Grade

5th

6th

7th

8th

5th- 8th

Total hours per week 25-31 26-31 28-32 28-32 111

Table 3: Total hours per week 5th-8th grade

Both in mainstream and in special schools 2-8 hours per week are available for extracurricular activities and elective subjects each. Options for arts and cultural education are: Choral singing, Instrumental Music, Drama, Technical Crafts and Textile Handicrafts, Movementand sport
(Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008a, p. 16).

In the context of special interests and tuition for special aptitude all compulsory subjects can be offered as elective subjects. In this way art and musical talents can also be encouraged.

Detailed information

Summaries of number of hours for cultural education per special need group.

The meaning of arts and cultural education in curriculum development

Specific information on the special needs curriculum is not available. Leading educationalists in the field of special needs involved in curriculum development consider the development of arts and cultural education as an important area which should be developed further.
(Expert interview, 2010).

Supervision in all-day schools

Supervision in all-day schools offers supplementary possibilities for development and creativity and leads to a meaningful attitude towards leisure time.
(Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 2008d, p. 8 f).

The percentage of all-day schools is currently increasing in Austria, supervision being considered the task of the school.