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AspIT selected as Best Practice by experts

Many educations in Denmark are aimed at young people with special needs. But there seems to be one of the educations that is in a class of its own. If you ask the Ministry of Education experts and now also the EU agency for special education, then AspIT represents what is called ’best practice’. This translates into ’outstanding’.

A few days ago AspIT had a very interesting visit, which in the long run may prove to be of great significance for AspIT and for a great many young people in Europe in particular. Representatives for the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education had decided to visit AspIT on a three day field trip. The organization has its office in Brussels and advices the EU Commission about the increasing number of educations in EU that caters to people with special needs.

- In the EU we have a lot of focus on educational concepts that may help more young people with special needs embark on an education. For years the focus has been on young people with physical handicaps, but now we are starting to focus on those that have invisible challenges – like a group such as young people with autism and Asperger’s Syndrom, says Mary Kyriazopoulou. She is the project leader of European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education, and the leader of the delegation that visited AspIT a few days ago.

- We are very happy to be meeting with AspIT. We see an educational model with a great potential. And there are many good reasons for this. For example the education’s precise targeting of the unique challenges of the particular student group. The challenges are in the areas of teaching methods, the combination of theory and practice in the work place, the small classes in the school, and the individualized teaching. There is for me no doubt that our visit confirms what we heard before we came: AspIT is in a class of its own. Our recommendation to officials and politicians will be for the further study of AspIT, says Mary Kyriazopoulou, who is also visiting a number of other countries’ projects within special needs teaching.

The organization has offices in Brussels and in Odense, and Denmark was represented by subject advisor Preben Siersbaek Larsen and his team from the Ministry of Education. They had coordinated the field trip and visit by the foreign colleagues.

- We have followed AspIT for some time, and recently we translated the very complimentary EVA report into English – that is the evaluation from the State Evaluation Institute – for our colleagues in the agency’s member countries. We have been focusing on the basic principle that you successfully can help the young people avoid a future of living on a social pension and instead employ them as part of the labour force, says Preben Siersbaek Larsen, who is also the national coordinator for the European organization.

The European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education will finalize its research and reporting sometime in 2012 . After that it is up to the officials and politicians to decide how to proceed in the direction of an education for young Europeans with special needs like Asperger’s Syndrom. An education like the one AspIT offers. In Denmark it is also the two designated experts from the Ministry of Education, Henrik Hedelund from Tech College Aalborg and Pia Cort from the Danish Pedagogical University, who are pointing to AspIT as a ’best practice’  school.

- For me there is no doubt that AspIT is at a level that makes the concept and its execution from day to day the best example in Denmark. Therefore it holds a unique position, because we in Denmark are already recognized for our ability to create effective educations for young people with special needs, says Henrik Hedelund. He has suggested AspIT both to the EU organization and also to UNESCO, which is the UN’s educational, research and cultural organization. As a consequence, AspIT has just been included on UNESCO’s list, which describes educations for young persons with special needs.

- The crucial point for me in recommending  AspIT is that it does not just talk about preparing the young Aspergers for getting a job; AspIT has also  designated the resources, and most importantly: are using them. Words are put into action. AspIT is bursting at the seams  with enthusiasm, especially the Educational Director, Ole Bay Jensen, but also among the teachers. The students are treated according to where they are at – that translates into an individual approach to learning and personal development. This is important, just like AspIT has high requirements to be met by potential and current students, says Henrik Hedelund, who also says that the participants from the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education were very impressed with AspIT. The vision is that AspIT in the future not only is an educational offer in Denmark, but that Aspies all over Europe will be given the opportunity for a meaningful life because they gained the skills to hold down a value-creating job – for the individual Asperger and the community alike.

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