VBE survey on inclusion in German education urges further measures to support students with special needs


The third edition of the FORSA survey conducted by the German member organisation VBE (Verband Bildung und Erziehung) warns that inclusion is not improving in German schools. The lack of adequate funding, the big size of classes, the shortage of qualified teachers and the unexpected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are hindering inclusion in education. ETUCE welcomes the work of its member organisation to bring the topic of inclusion in education at the core of the German political agenda and supports education trade unions’ demands for adequate structures, highly qualified education personnel and additional support staff to adequately assist students with special needs.

On 9 November, VBE published the results of the national FORSA survey on inclusion in German schools to which more than 2000 teachers took part. The FORSA survey, analyses the state of the art of inclusion and the progress made from 2015 in German schools, also accounting the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research results reveal that inclusion in schools is not progressing, and federal governments are not making enough effort to improve the situation. More specifically, the survey observes a substantial discrepancy between the ambitious promises from policymakers and the modest public funds that they actually make available to enhance inclusion in schools.

According to the report, as the number of students with special needs continues to increase in schools and the size of classes remains the same, teachers do not have time and means to adequately supports students. Indeed, 4 schools out of 5 underline the need for more qualified teachers and additional staff to support students with disabilities. Furthermore, in most cases, teachers are not provided with continuous and quality professional development.

In addition, the survey highlights the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on students with disabilities. 70% of the interviewed teachers reported that pupils did not receive sufficient support during the school closings, and 74% of respondents believe that the online learning during the lockdown has led to a regression in inclusion.

Commenting on this data Udo Beckmann, VBE’s Federal Chairperson said “Different needs require adequate differentiated educational support. Teachers are brought into new situations without adequate preparation. This is not only unfair towards teachers, but also towards students. We need adequate school structures with smaller classes and additional education personnel with specific professional expertise working in a multi-professional team to effectively support students with special needs and enhance inclusion in education”.