R. Sabo, K. Vančíková, M. Trnka, M. Cabanová, Z. Lynch, T. Vaníková

Matej Bel University, Faculty of Education (SLOVAKIA)
Currently, the subject of inclusive education resonates in Slovakia. Expert public leads a discussion about the essence, significance of the necessity, but also about the feasibility of this education model. This discussion is being held against the background of a strong tradition of special needs education. Education practice of the 20th century in Slovakia (former Czechoslovakia) followed the trend of applying of a medical, special-pedagogical approach, which categorized disabled children into strict categories according to their type of disability. Due to this trend there was a significant external differentiation of Slovak education. It resulted in a branched system of special schools, with qualified expert personnel, ready to help the target group of children. Today, there is a need to get these specialists into the field of regular schools.

Currently, the issue of inclusive education within the Slovak context is most discussed particularly with regard to a large group of children from a socially disadvantaged environment, the majority of which are Roma children. This is an endangered group of children that are most likely to face the risk of omission from the education mainstream. Due to this, Slovakia received sharp criticism from Europe. This unfavorable situation was addressed by the national Inclusive Education Project, known as PRINED, which was implemented in 2014 and 2015. Under the project, 100 primary schools had the opportunity to employ specialists (special needs, social, medical pedagogues, logopedists, school psychologists) and pedagogical assistants who till then worked outside the field of mainstream schools. Thanks to the PRINED project, Slovak schools underwent a new experience and was given the opportunity to test the effectiveness of the so called Inclusive teams at primary schools. The purpose of the research presented in this study was to get information about their activities at schools and to find answers to the questions: What adaptation problems did the members of the inclusive team have to face and how did they overcome these problems? The research sample consisted of 20 inclusive teams: focus groups with 4-6 members. The selection was purposeful. These were teams in which two members of the research team mentored throughout the entire project. The basic research procedure was analytical induction. In the study, the authors present the results of a content analysis of the statements transcript from one of the focal groups, based on which they formulated the initial hypotheses. They will verify their validity through a content analysis of the remaining 19 interviews. At this stage of the research, they work with two basic findings: (1) A strong element of an inclusive team's functionality is the coordination of professional activities within the team. It seem the key role is played by the ability to harmonize the activities of the various specialists (special pedagogue, logopedist, social pedagogue, school psychologist, teacher assistant). (2) The inclusive team adapts to the school environment much quicker, if there is previous experience with the profession done in the field of a regular school, with at least the experience of one member of the team. This member of the group becomes a natural leader, not only helping to coordinate activities, but also motivating and helping to overcome the initial difficulties.