Leaving No one Behind-Special Education Promotion Practice of Xiaoshan District, Zhejiang Province, China
Hangzhou Xiaoshan District Education Bureau (
Local / Regional Government
Xiaoshan, part of Hangzhou, is an open coastal city of Zhejiang Province. With “inclusion, respect, civilization and progress” as the philosophy of educational development, Xiaoshan District takes initiative to implement the Special Needs Education Promotion Plan of Xiaoshan District, create conditions for the adoption of various ways of school running to meet disabled students’ requirements of quality special education, and provide appropriate education for children with severe physical disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy or multiple disabilities, so that their physical and mental potentials can be effectively developed while acquiring knowledge and skills, laying a foundation for their integration into society. Xiaoshan’s reform practice significantly enhances the educational level for disabled children and makes contributions to the construction of an inclusive, equitable and quality education system. Since 2015, guided by Phase II Special Needs Education Promotion Plan of Xiaoshan District, a development paradigm for special needs education has been established in which regular schools are regarded as the mainstay, special schools as the backbone and other educational forms, such as bringing education to students’ doorstep, as supplements. With the principle that “children with mild mental disabilities attend regular schools, those with moderate to severe disabilities receive special education, and those with severe disabilities enjoy education brought to their doorstep”, we have scaled up support for supply system construction and enhanced the building of special schools and resource rooms, thus fostering in special needs education a development momentum characterized by full regional coverage, comprehensive interschool linkage and deep penetration into all stages of schooling. With the overall planning and collaboration of governments of all levels, we established a special education system in which regular schools are regarded as the mainstay, special schools as the backbone and other educational forms, such as bringing education to students’ doorstep, as supplements, giving full play to the coordination between institutions of all levels, including special education schools run by district authorities, satellite classes at designated schools, auxiliary classes run by areas, resource rooms set up by town authorities, classes enrolling disabled students in regular schools and the service of bringing education to students’ doorstep, striving to promote the expansion of special education towards preschool and high school. Xiaoshan District has made great strides in the development of special needs education, won a good reputation and become a branded special education unit of considerable national influence. It has undertaken various academic exchanges such as the National Special Education Supervision & Evaluation On-site Meeting, the first Integrated Education Seminar of Zhejiang Province, and attracted experts from Indiana, the USA, the MOE’s Department of Basic Education, the National Institute of Education Sciences (NIES), East China Normal University (ECNU) etc. to make special trips to Xiaoshan for investigation. Up to now, a total of over 90 delegations from 15 provinces have visited the district to learn its experience in special needs education; its integrated education has played an exemplary role at the provincial and national levels, bringing it many honorary titles, such as the National Advanced County (city, or district) in Special Needs Education for three consecutive years, National 100 Pilot Counties Supporting and Guaranteeing Regular Class Learning, the first Patch Pilot County of Regular Class Learning in Zhejiang Province.
“To enable every child to have access to equitable and quality education” is the work vision of Xiaoshan District in their effort to promote the overall development of high-quality and balanced education in recent years. On the one hand, we commit to fostering a sound educational environment through increasing the investment in education infrastructure; on the other hand, we make efforts to promote fair, high-quality and sustainable development of education. In line with the proposed SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), we commit to a renewed agenda that is holistic, ambitious and aspirational, leaving no one behind, aiming to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Xiaoshan District is keenly aware that education is a public good, a fundamental human right and a basis for guaranteeing the realization of other rights. It is of vital importance for peace, tolerance, human fulfillment and sustainable development. It is also recognized as key to achieving full employment and poverty eradication, promoting equality and safeguarding human right. We commit to expanding access to education, ensuring the provision of free, publicly funded, equitable quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant learning outcomes and ensuring that all children have access to quality early childhood education, care and education. At the same time, we take initiative to eliminate marginalization, disparities and inequalities. We also dedicate ourselves to making a series of changes in education policies and focusing our efforts on the most disadvantaged, especially those with disabilities. An education which excludes special education would be incomplete. Special education is humanistic care and respect; it is emotional preference and protection. As a love project, it requires professionalism and innovation as well as consistence and perseverance. Not only does it contribute to helping students with special needs to live an independent and dignified life, but it also conduces to the protection of the rights and benefits of the underprivileged group so as to carry out the philosophy of inclusive education. We have long devoted ourselves to the construction of a complete special education system, the amplification of the special education service system from preschool to senior high, and the all-round improvement of education quality to ensure every disabled child and adolescent has access to suitable education. To this end, we have set the following objectives. On the basis of guaranteeing 100% enrollment rate of children with special education needs during compulsory education, we will ensure an enrollment rate of 97.2% and 95.4% in preschool and high school respectively; we will construct 2 teaching practice bases and 4 vocational training bases to serve pupils with special education needs and establish a cooperation mechanism between town communities and enterprises to address labor and employment for the special group; we will set up 1 downtown kindergarten and 1 special-education satellite class in a vocational high school, town-level integrated education classes across the district, 9 medical care and teaching bases in different areas, 1 education center for the adult disabled. In addition, we will set up resource rooms for schools with five or more students with special education needs, with a coverage rate of 70% on a township basis, aiming to add 30 qualified resource rooms and 15 demonstrative resource rooms at the municipal level. Furthermore, in terms of bringing education to students’ doorstep, we will strive to guarantee the funds and service of 120 periods on a yearly basis and underscore process records and return visits. We will incorporate special education in the continuing education program of primary and secondary schools (including kindergartens), ensuring every teacher conducts special education research and studies for 8 credits. We will accelerate gradient construction of a special education teacher team at provincial, municipal, district, town and school levels, aiming to cultivate 52 backbone dedicated teachers and enabling 70% special education teachers to receive professional education. We will also speed up the construction of special education digital resource database and publish books summarizing Xiaoshan’s experience in special education.
1. The special education promotion plan has been stipulated and implemented. We have made and implemented a special education promotion plan, enabling the philosophy of inclusion and equity in and through education to win stronger support among people. Helping the disabled and the weak is a traditional virtue of the Chinese nation, and showing concern for the special groups and promoting special education is the positive action of inclusive education proposed in the Salamanca Statement, an important measure in constructing a harmonious society as well as the inevitable course for the realization of educational democracy and the improvement of the quality of the nation. Starting from 1986, Xiaoshan’s special education has developed in an innovative way through impartment and inheritance and made contributions to the overall special education cause in the past 35 years. Since 2015, to advance the SDG practice, the district has shifted its work focus to humanistic care oriented towards a better life and improved living skills for pupils with special education needs. 2. The educational rights and benefits of the underprivileged group have been safeguarded and the rights of disabled children have been ensured. we have safeguarded the educational rights and benefits of the disadvantaged group and ensured the rights of children with disabilities. Our special education promotion plan happens to coincide with the objective stated in The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that “We envisage a world of equal opportunity permitting the full realization of human potential and contributing to shared prosperity. A world which invests in its children and in which every child grows up free from violence and exploitation”. In addition, it will provide useful lessons for other regions in terms of special education. By increasing education funds dedicated to the disabled, perfecting educational facilities and equipment, strengthening various guarantee mechanisms, adding the specialized subject of special education and increasing the number of professional teachers, we have ensured that disabled students have access to free, appropriate, publicly-funded education opportunities that meet their special needs, thus laying a foundation for disabled students to live normally and to adapt themselves to society and helping them on the way to a better life. 3. The weaknesses in special education have been effectively made up and education of all types have been fully developed. We have effectively made up for our weaknesses in special education and fully developed education of all types. As a county-level administrative district and under the influence of national situation of educational development, we have long laid stress on basic education and compulsory education, leading to the situation where special education was the weak link of educational development. With the social and economic development and the promotion of civility in society, nevertheless, the protection and education of underprivileged groups have received unprecedented attention. The education of children with disabilities manifests the government’s strong determination to foster fairness in education and protect the underprivileged group so as to ensure every life is brilliant and every disabled child can enjoy the enormous dividends of reform and opening-up, thereby improving the quality of the nation on the whole and raise average educational level. A civilized society needs to provide more conveniences and welfare for children with disabilities through humanistic care and policy support; a sound educational system pays close attention not only to normal children but also to services and opportunities available to disabled children.
1. Establishing the supportive guarantee system for disabled students to attend regular classes. Firstly, we scaled up policy support. In April 2011, we led in the province to issue the document on special education promotion, Instructions on Implementation of Measures to Further Accelerate the Development of Special Needs Education in Xiaoshan District. In June 2018, we issued Phase II Special Needs Education Promotion Plan of Xiaoshan District, which effectively made up the past shortcomings in terms of funds and personnel, and proposed a series of professional and thematic innovations in advancing integrated education, giving strong policy support to disabled children attending regular schools. Secondly, we improved the funds ensuring system. The average public funds for special education students in various schooling periods are allocated over ten times more than regular schools at the same level, plus an annual separate special fund of 4 million yuan. Thirdly, we implemented guarantee measures for teachers. We started files and decided on the establishment of the school staffs for all the special education teachers in the district, achieving a teacher-student ratio of 1:3 in special schools and 1:4 in regular schools and realizing an addition of 1 resource teacher for regular schools enrolling more than 8 disabled students. Moreover, we managed to ensure professionalism of special education teachers through recruitment of professional teachers, expert guidance, group discussions etc. 2. Actively building a system for the arrangement of children with disabilities. We established a special education system in which regular schools are regarded as the mainstay, special schools as the backbone and other educational forms, such as bringing education to students’ doorstep, as supplements, giving full play to the coordination between institutions of all levels, including special education schools run by district authorities, satellite classes at designated schools, auxiliary classes run by areas, resource rooms set up by town authorities, classes enrolling disabled students in regular schools and the service of bringing education to students’ doorstep, striving to promote the expansion of special education towards preschool and high school. A total of 72 schools (kindergartens included) set up resource rooms (accounting for approximately 1/4 and 1/20 of the total number in Hangzhou City and Zhejiang Province respectively), of which 17 being municipal-level demonstrative resource rooms and 48 being qualified resource rooms, benefiting 780 students with special needs annually. The school-based popularization rate of integrated education reached 100%. 79 schools (including kindergartens) in the district undertook diversified district-level special education research and training activities and the concept of integrated education has been disseminated into schools and classrooms. 3. Intensifying the multi-department linkage mechanism. In order to make overall plans for special education, the district government established a special education expert committee from such different sector as education, disabled persons’ association, health commission, and civil affairs bureau with joint efforts to study and address issues concerning special funds, bringing education to students’ doorstep, combination of medical care and teaching, disability screening and evaluation, rehabilitation support, etc. , effectively guaranteeing the sound and rapid development of special education of the district. Simultaneously, the district education department set up a multi-office linkage leading group on special education management, giving full play to the collaborated management and respective functions across eight offices: administration by the Compulsory Education Office, teachers allocation by the Personnel Office, funds guarantee by the Finance and Planning office, supervision and evaluation by the Supervision and Guidance Office, business guidance by the Teaching and Research Office, special topic investigation by the Special Education Guidance Center, practical training by the special education schools, and teacher training by schools of further education. 4. Improve the effect of integrated education. According to age and practical capabilities, on the principle of “enrollment based on classification and proximity”, we ensured that every student with special needs were properly enrolled. Under the various modes of integrated education, such as division and amalgamation of classes, teaching periods and disciplines, we gained fruitful and distinctive experience in integrated education, such as “the combination of separate classes for disabled children and regular class learning”, “putting off classes instead of staying down”, “regular class learning plus resource room” , thus meeting the learning needs of students with different difficulties. The collaboration between medical care and teaching promoted rehabilitation of individual preschool children and the targeted efforts of vocational classes expanded the educational services at high school level. At the same time, we regularly brought education to the doorstep of those severely disabled or special students who had to suspend their schooling due to physical problems, thus fully realizing inclusion and zero exclusion for all schooling periods and making integration a normal state. With an aim to further develop special education against the backdrop of SDGs, centering around the objectives of deepening integrated education, we strove to enhance the quality construction and operation of resource rooms and promote the balanced development of special education in all regions and schooling periods in an all-round way. Additionally, we actively adopted the paradigm of regular class learning in rural areas, under which “appropriate arrangement is the basis, collaborative operation is the backing force, support from multi platforms are the vital element and individualized cultivation is the core”. By this means, we improved the quality of integrated education in an all-round way and realized connotative development and brand image establishment of special education. Meanwhile, with disabled students attending regular schools, their schoolmates gained opportunities to show concern for them, cultivate compassion, increase a sense of attainment, understand the importance of respect and equality towards disabled students in the course of caring for them. 5. Strengthening teaching staff for special education. In 2010, we established posts of dedicated researchers of special education at the county and district level, which were responsible for research with regard to regional special education administration, classroom teaching, curriculum construction, teacher training, student activities, resource rooms and special education association and so on. By means of discipline cooperation, we set up Xiaoshan special education research group, which played a leading role in the rapid professional development of the district’s special education via thematic research and project demonstration. Every primary and secondary school and kindergarten was required to carry out integrated education and set up integrated education teams with research term leaders or chief resource teachers as the core. The team members included school administrators, head teachers, skill subject teachers, mental health teachers, students' parents, special education experts, doctors of town-level health centers, folk artists, community personnel as well as volunteers. Their mission was to make use of resource rooms to carry out targeted subject remedy, defect compensation and potential development for students with special needs. 6. Scaling up support for rehabilitation and employment of students with special education need. With an aim to achieve the full coverage of various guarantee measures, we established an allowance system for persons with certified disabilities，a student subsidy system, a subsidy system to provide for the living expenses of disabled persons in need and to pay the nursing costs of persons with severe disabilities and the old-age insurance schemes. We comprehensively promoted the precise rehabilitation of disabled persons and establish a multi-level service system. By giving full play to regional advantages, we accurately aided the disabled in employment and entrepreneurship, and helped the disabled persons to realize their career dreams who were at working age, wished to work and were capable of working. Besides, we increased the funds, and issued in small discount loans and supportive subsidies, helping disabled persons with their new businesses and careers. In addition, seizing the opportunities of the “Internet plus” era, we took initiative to set up science and technology parks (STPs) aimed to help the disabled to fight poverty, and offer training in e-commerce employment and entrepreneurship and in combination of the regional features of Xiaoshan, we organized special training classes in seedling planting, aquaculture, Western pastry, etc for persons with disabilities, seeking to enhance their employment skills and competitiveness. 7. Enhancing individualized education for disabled children. Centered around resource rooms and regarding training equipment as the media, we enhanced the development of functional courses to meet the specific needs of special students in movement, language and sentiments etc. Firstly, in accordance with their special characteristics, we devised customized course units centered around a certain defect or function deficiency. Secondly, in accordance with the characteristics of the apparatuses or teaching tools in resource rooms, we designed customized course units based on some apparatus or item. Thirdly, according to their age characteristics and special emotional needs, we planned customized course units on the basis of a certain space or situation. Centered around the core objective of “carrying forward individualized teaching with integrated class as the focus”, we underscored the importance of “appropriate difficulty, amount, timing, opportunity, material selection and teaching designs” and conducted thematic and targeted classroom teaching with local features, aiming to make teaching objectives effective, teaching content appropriate, teaching activities differentiated, teaching strategies supportive, after-class assignments graded, and assessments diversified. Our educational themes were on a monthly basis, our activities on a weekly basis, student observations on a daily basis and every student had a separate file. The school-based popularization rate of integrated education reached 100%.
1. The education of children with disabilities has been effectively guaranteed. The standardization of special education equipment has been enhanced in a comprehensive way, completing the construction of 1 medical care and teaching base, 2 teaching practice bases, 4 vocational training bases. 8-10 new standardized resource rooms are built every year, marching steadily towards the objective of resource rooms entering every school and every school having a distinctive feature. The mode of bringing education to students’ doorstep has been perfected, and a mechanism characterized by the collaborated efforts of Xiaoshan Bureau of Education, which is responsible for the statistical work of students in need of education to the doorstep, teacher team building, and service provision, Xiaoshan Disabled Persons’ Federation, which plays an auxiliary role in the implementation of bringing education to students’ doorstep, and departments of Civil Affairs, which are in charge of providing assistance to qualified disabled children in poverty-stricken families in accordance with relevant policies. Children with mild disabilities are expected to attend regular kindergartens, and children with severe disabilities are encouraged to go to special education kindergartens or agencies for preschool rehabilitation so as to achieve an enrollment rate of 100%. 2. The quality of life and employment for children with disabilities has been significantly improved. Employment is an important means by which disabled persons shake off poverty, return to society and realize their self-worth. By taking advantage of the regional advantages, we have accurately aided the disabled in employment and entrepreneurship, and helped the disabled persons to realize their career dreams who are at working age, wish to work and are capable of working. we have increased the funds, and issued in small discount loans and supportive subsidies. In addition, seizing the opportunities of the “Internet plus” era, we have actively set up science and technology parks (STPs) aiming to help the disabled to fight poverty, and offered training in e-commerce employment and entrepreneurship and in combination of the regional features of Xiaoshan, we organized over 130 special training classes in seedling planting, aquaculture, Western pastry, etc for persons with disabilities, training over 6000 person-times, significantly enhancing disabled people’s employment skills and competitiveness. Through the e-commerce training, for instance, disabled youth Li Keke succeeded in starting four e-shops on such e-commerce platforms as Taobao and Tmall, with a steady annual turnover of 5 million yuan. Zhu Nuannuan, a severely disabled girl, managed to find employment after her training in e-commerce, receiving a monthly income of more than 5500 yuan. 3. Our experience in special education has played an exemplary role nationwide. As a banner of Xiaoshan education, Xiaoshan’s special education enjoys great popularity and high reputation provincewide, even nationwide. It has been awarded National Advanced County(City, District) in Special Education for three consecutive times, National 100 Pilot Counties Supporting and Guaranteeing Regular Class Learning, the first Pilot County of Regular Class Learning in Zhejiang Province. In recent years, the district has undertaken a series of influential exchanges, including “Hangzhou-Taiwan” Resource Room Work Exchanges, the First On-site Meeting of Regular Class Learning Pilot Counties of Zhejiang Province, the First Integrated Education Seminar of Zhejiang Province, the National Regular Class Learning Seminar, etc. At the 2015 National Special Education Video and Telephone Conference, Xiaoshan District made a keynote speech on regular class learning of disabled students as the only county-level representative in the country, and Xiaoshan’s experience won affirmation of the then vice prime minister, Liu Yandong. Researchers from the National Institute of Education Sciences (NIES), East China Normal University (ECNU) etc. to make special trips to Xiaoshan for investigation, and over 70 groups of visiting delegations from 15 provinces were attracted here for investigation. Xiaoshan’s special education, especially its achievements in regular class learning with resource rooms as the vital means, has set a good example to the rest of the province and the country.
1. Policy support by making and issuing relevant documents. We have made relevant documents to ensure the sound development of special education, such as Notice on Opinions on the Implementation of Accelerating the Development of Special Education, Implementation Plan on the Establishment of Satellite Classes in Special Education Schools in Xiaoshan District, Opinions on Further Strengthening the Work of Learning in Regular Classes for Children with Mild Disabilities in Xiaoshan District, and Measures for the Administration of Special Funds for Special Education in Xiaoshan District . The documents have formulated the development objectives of special education, scientifically planned and perfected the layout of special education in the district and guaranteed funds input on special education. Phase II Special Needs Education Promotion Plan of Xiaoshan District has been made to establish a development paradigm for special needs education in which regular schools are regarded as the mainstay, special schools as the backbone and other educational forms, such as bringing education to students’ doorstep, as supplements. With the principle that “children with mild mental disabilities attend regular schools, those with moderate to severe disabilities receive special education, and those with severe disabilities enjoy education brought to their doorstep”, we have scaled up support for supply system construction and enhanced the building of special schools and resource rooms, thus fostering in special needs education a development momentum characterized by full regional coverage, comprehensive interschool linkage and deep penetration into all stages of schooling. 2. Multi-department linkage for the construction of a collaborative mechanism. We have set up a special education expert committee from such different sector as education, disabled persons’ association, health commission, and civil affairs bureau with joint efforts to study and address issues concerning special funds, bringing education to students’ doorstep, combination of medical care and teaching, disability screening and evaluation, rehabilitation support, etc. , effectively guaranteeing the sound and rapid development of special education of the district. We have established Xiaoshan special education management center, which was in charge of special education guidance, reinforcing process guidance and technical support of regular schools admitting disabled students and performing track management to individual students and case guidance. Moreover, we offer training to students’ parents and guidance to family training and provide counseling for students’ parents who have such needs. A hierarchical management web has been set up, involving the district special education management center, regular class learning management group, as well as resource room serving regular class learning”. 3. Funds input for ensuring dedicated financial budgets for children with disabilities. We have established an allowance system for persons with certified disabilities，a monthly 50 yuan for each. We have taken the initiative in introducing commercial insurance for the disabled, purchasing a 100-yuan social group accident insurance for over 34 thousand persons with certified disabilities on the cost of Xiaoshan Bureau of Finance. We have enforced a subsidy system to provide for the living expenses of disabled persons in need and to pay the nursing costs of persons with severe disabilities and the old-age insurance schemes，funding the disabled to seek employment. We have also established a school subsidy system. We have solidly promoted the rescue rehabilitation of disabled children, raising the subsidy for fundamental rehabilitation training for disabled children aged 0 to 6 years from 12000 to 24000 yuan per person per year. At present, the basic rehabilitation service rate of disabled people in the whole district is 100%, the adaption rate of assistive devices is 100%, the service rate of family doctors with certificates is 92.71%, and the targeted rehabilitation service rate is 82.94%.
As a banner of Xiaoshan education, Xiaoshan’s special education enjoys great popularity and high reputation provincewide, even nationwide. It has been awarded National Advanced County (City, District) in Special Education for three consecutive times, National 100 Pilot Counties Supporting and Guaranteeing Regular Class Learning, the first Pilot County of Regular Class Learning in Zhejiang Province. In recent years, the district has undertaken a series of influential exchanges, including “Hangzhou-Taiwan” Resource Room Work Exchanges, the First On-site Meeting of Regular Class Learning Pilot Counties of Zhejiang Province, the First Integrated Education Seminar of Zhejiang Province, the National Regular Class Learning Seminar, etc. Xiaoshan’s achievements in special education have attracted wide attention from colleagues across the country, attracting over 70 delegations from 15 provinces to visit Xiaoshan for investigation. Xiaoshan’s special education, especially its achievements in regular class learning with resource rooms as the vital means, has set a good example to the rest of the province and the country and is of significant reference value to promote the development of China’s special education. Xiaoshan’s experience and practice in special education can be repeated and popularized among developing countries which intend to boost education and guarantee educational equity. Connotative development of special education requires the following measures: Firstly, the improvement of the mechanism for special education. The departments of the government should coordinate with one another to issue supportive policies for special education, and work together to perfect the guarantee system by optimizing the mode of special education schools, improving management in regular school learning, expanding resource room services, innovating the mechanism for bringing education to students’ doorstep, etc. In addition, the mechanism for “the integration of medical care and teaching” should be improved, aiming at covering all disabled children aged 3-18. Secondly, the increase of government funds input and ensure the smooth implementation of various tasks. Efforts should be made to increase funds input on special education schools and disabled children attending regular schools, establish an allowance system for bringing education to students’ doorstep, increase work allowance for teachers of special education, improve school running conditions, bring resource rooms into play in special education, perfect the policies concerning the welfare of disabled children, improving guarantee mechanism and enhance care services. Thirdly, the enhancement of teacher team building and the cultivation of professional teachers. Much attention should be paid to intensify professionalism, set up special education institutes and lay more stress on fostering a team of teachers dedicated to special education. A good social atmosphere should be formed to support special education and ensure the steadiness, professionalization and sense of happiness for special education teachers, enabling them to make explorations and innovations in such aspects as curriculum development, research and evaluation, equipment use and early rehabilitation intervention so as to improve the teaching quality.
To cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, we established prevention and control organizations at various levels. Care and support were given to the underprivileged group and prevention and control management were carried under a responsibility system and a hierarchical system. In the light of “moving teaching online”, one after another teacher started online courses and conducted teaching online. Hotlines for special education counseling and psychological counseling were opened with an aim to resolve problems of students and teachers with regard to their online studies. For those students with extremely severe disabilities, special measures were taken to ensure point-to-point education for them, send anti-virus goods and materials, carry out cognitive teaching and give rehabilitation assignments.
SDGS & Targets
Deliverables & Timeline
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