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Curricula for teaching students with intellectual disability

Background and aims

In the German-speaking part of Switzerland, there is no binding curriculum for teaching students with intellectual disability. This situation is handled in different ways by the special education schools where students with intellectual disability are taught. Some schools have developed their own more or less differentiated general curriculum. Other schools follow curricula from Germany or utilize selected official normal school teaching materials and in part also curricula. However, some schools do not appear to follow any model curriculum systematically. This situation raises questions:

  • How are the educational needs of students with intellectual disability met in a targeted manner, and how is the risk of arbitrariness and randomness minimized?
  • How are educational offerings/programmes planned and controlled regarding goals and contents?
  • How is compatibility ensured for individual students when moving from one school or school type (segregated/inclusive) to another? This issue is particularly urgent in view of the great increase in inclusive education in recent years.

The aim of this research project was to examine the use of and attitudes toward curricula for students with intellectual disability in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and to identify needs for development in the area of curricula. Bases for the design and further development of curricula as well as pointers on how to implement curricula should be gained.


In order to be able to propose appropriate and purposeful measures for building, further developing, and consolidating a curriculum orientation in the teaching of students with intellectual disability, it is necessary to know what the current situation is regarding the use of curricula in this area. For this reason, this research project looked at the use of curricula and how they are connected with supportive assessment practices and quality management processes. Of research interest were also the attitudes that shape the handling of curricula as well as the development needs and requirements that special education teachers and school principals see as important regarding a curriculum for students with intellectual disability.


To take stock of the current situation, we conducted a representative questionnaire survey at all special education schools in the German-speaking part of Switzerland where students with intellectual disability are taught. In a second step, the orientations in education plans will be examined in detail. For this, we will conduct content analyses of individual students’ written education plans.


The evaluations of the questionnaire survey have been completed. A summary of the results in German can be found at here. An article reporting the results will be published in the journal Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Heilpädagogik in the spring/summer of 2020.



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