On January 26th, 2021, the Central Council for Education released a report entitled “Aiming to Build Japanese-Style School Education in the Reiwa Era – Realization of Learning Environments Most Appropriate for Individuals and of Collaborative Learning Opportunities”. This report was created in response to an inquiry by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in April 2019 on "The paradigm for primary and secondary education in a new era." It comes as the result of repeated deliberations by the “Special Subcommittee to Consider the Ideal Nature of Elementary and Secondary Education in the New Era” over a year and nine months. The report proposes to improve Japanese-style school education while maintaining its good points, and to vigorously promote work style reform and GIGA (Global and Innovation Gateway for All) programs at schools. It also states that the government is to steadily implement the new curriculum guidelines and provide “learning environments most appropriate for individuals” and “collaborative learning opportunities” for all students in an integrated manner. The report includes contents related to special needs education as follows.
1. Basic concept
- The situation of special needs education and inclusive education has been changing, in accordance with increasing public understanding and awareness of special needs education, legislative reforms, and the increasing number of children who receive special support at regular schools.
- Continuous and diverse learning opportunities should be steadily provided through regular classes, special support classes at regular schools and special schools.
2. Improving learning environments for children with disabilities and strengthening cooperation among stakeholders
- Consultation and support opportunities for pre-school-age children
- Fuller provision of supporting personnel through collaboration with related organizations and external experts.
- Enhancement of training opportunities to improve the qualifications of teachers, special needs education coordinators, and special needs education support staff.
- Provision of consultation opportunities at the checkup for 5 year-olds and at the checkup when starting school.
- Consultation for pre-school-age children with disabilities and provision of choices regarding learning places
- Enrichment of the contents of pamphlets and related documents to support consultation for children with disabilities under school age.
- Provision of sufficient information on choices regarding learning places for children with disabilities
- Upgrading of the learning environments for children with disabilities in elementary and junior high schools
- Encouragement of students in special support classes to play an active role in regular classes as well.
- Promotion of the joint implementation of subject learning in both special support classes and regular classes, based on the annual teaching plan.
- Advancement of teachers’ understanding of the characteristics of children with special needs utilizing check lists, etc.
- Improvement of the environment for children with special needs to receive high quality guidance by specialists at each school.
- Improvement of placement of teachers for special needs classes and upgrading of the teaching system
- Support for schools to further promote barrier-free facilities
- Provision of diverse learning opportunities for children with disabilities, through a variety of options such as regular classes and special needs classes.
- Improvement of educational environments for special schools
- Development of teaching plans and methods for vocational education through ICT.
- Formulation of standards of establishment for special schools.
- Intensive efforts to solve the shortage of classrooms.
- Expansion of the function of special schools as regional centers for special needs education.
- Promotion of inter-school cooperation.
- Creation of special textbooks for students with intellectual disabilities to ensure that the students can acquire the qualities and abilities they need in each subject.
- Promotion of a secondary enrollment system in regular schools for those who are attending special schools.
- Enrichment of the learning environments in high schools
- Ensuring of a smooth transition from elementary and junior high schools to high schools.
- Provision of appropriate guidance and support through individual educational support plans.
- Enrichment of special needs education in high schools through teacher training and attentive guidance for those who are attending special needs classes at regular schools.
- Construction of a supporting system for students who are unaware of their disabilities/disorders.
- Promotion of cooperation with related organizations to continue necessary support after graduation.
3. Improving the expertise of teachers in charge of special needs education
- Expertise in special education required for all teachers
- Understanding of the characteristics of each type of disability.
- Basic knowledge about special needs education.
- Clear instruction and teaching methods tailored to individuals.
- Construction of a system for teachers to receive necessary advice and support.
- Enrichment of training for managerial level personnel.
- Expertise in special needs education required for teachers in charge of special support classes at regular schools
- Expertise in creating teaching plans and methods tailored to individuals.
- Teamwork skill with related stakeholders.
- Expansion of training opportunities through OJT and online.
- Improvement of training for teachers who support children with developmental disabilities.
- Encouragement of those who are taking an elementary teacher training course to acquire some credits from special school teaching training.
- Provision of opportunities for experienced teachers on advanced training courses to acquire a license for special needs education.
- Specialization required for teachers in special schools
- Basic knowledge for guiding children with multiple disabilities.
- Provision of opportunities for personnel exchange.
- Improvement of training contents and creation of a core curriculum.
- Improvement of communication between the National Government and the Prefectural Board of Education to encourage teachers to acquire a license for special needs education.
- Enhancing seamless support by strengthening cooperation with related organizations.
- Improvement of communication between schools, related organizations, and families of the students.
- Establishment of a support system for the families.
- Smooth handover from elementary/junior high schools to high schools. Sharing of detailed information about students utilizing ICT.
- Provision of career education at schools through collaboration with local employment support organizations.
- Improvement of communication among special needs schools, welfare services, and employment support organizations, and clarification of the role of each in supporting transition and employment for the students.
- Construction of a medical support system for children who need medical care at school and allocation of nurses responsible for their care in order to improve their environments.
- Clarification of the legal status of nurses placed in schools.
- Consideration of the establishment of a hub school providing medical care at junior high school level.
In addition to the points above, the report also looked at topics such as “Construction of a support system for foreign students with disabilities to provide attentive guidance and assistance according to the nature of their disabilities” and “Gaining an understanding of the situation of foreign students with disabilities”. For further information, please visit the following link (Japanese only):