Client: Ministry of Education and Research

Period: 2022

Students with special education needs in Estonia are supported with two similar measures to facilitate educational and labour market transitions after completing basic education: additional studies (lisaõpe) in basic schools and vocational orientation curriculum (kutsevaliku õpe) in vocational schools. Both measures are intended to support the development of students’ general skills, as well as basic career and vocational skills. We analyse the current organisation and use of these measures and develop suggestions to improve the implementation of these measures.

Both additional education and vocational education are a necessary and effective measure for supporting further education for some students. Transition measures are aimed at supporting further education rather than moving directly to work. Not all students who have studied in additional studies and vocational choice studies go on to study or enter the labor market, but despite this they are considered necessary because they allow students to search for and find their hidden potential. The participants in the study emphasized the role of transition measures in the social development and maturation of students in a wider sense, in addition to further learning.

For the successful implementation of the transition measures, the need to start from the student’s individual abilities and the gradual displacement of the student out of the comfort zone emerged as a pattern from the interviews. In addition to the general need to adapt education, the interviews revealed two aspects concerning attitudes as problematic: gender stereotypes in the choice of majors and attitudes towards inclusion. If vocational training is already quite well-known on the educational scene, additional training, which can be offered by every school offering basic education, is still little used and the potential for its expansion is great.

The study “Supporting transitions of students with special educational needs for smooth movement between education levels and types and to the labor market” was commissioned by the Ministry of Education and Research and was financed from the 2022 budget of the Ministry of Education and Research.