Article Index

Students with special educational needs

Which students are concerned? How can their needs be identified? How to accommodate these students in their normal classes?

By Caroline Planchamp – April 2016

Caroline Planchamp is a psychologist, with an occupational psychology master degree. She is specialized in group work and team building within organisations. She is also a teacher with 15 years of experience in primary year classes at a number of private schools in Geneva. She is the mother of three children, one with special needs. She is currently specializing in supporting inclusive education for students with special needs.

Contact : planchamp.caroline{at}

All students presenting learning difficulties in a given situation have “special educational needs”. Pedagogical arrangements are necessary in order to ensure their progression in school. Sometimes, specific resources or specialised environments are required; however remaining in the ordinary class remains a priority in inclusive schools and societies (see the article "the inclusive school").

In this article, we will discuss the diversity of special educational needs, how to identify the students and their needs, and finally, which pedagogical options are available to accommodate the student in the school.

The elements encountered in this document stem from various sources, most of which are Francophone (Swiss, French, Belgian, Quebecois). When it is possible and relevant, the chosen references are from Geneva based sources, as it is more interesting for a reader from the Geneva area to share the language and references from professionals in the region. The information presented will clarify certain queries regarding this vast area of concern. Nevertheless, this article does not cover every aspect of each disorder and specific difficulty. It cannot replace a professional opinion. For further information, references are given at the bottom of each page. Additional material can be accessed by clicking on these links.