Introduction: It often happens that handicapped children and teenagers need to be taught in special educational centres. One of the specialists working in a special school should be a nurse having appropriate professional and methodical skills.
Material and methods: The research involved nurses employed in 36 special education institutions in 2006/2007 in the area of North-West Poland. The organization of work was analysed on the basis of specially constructed questionnaires.
Results: The average working time of nurses employed in special education institutions was 16 hours and 12 minutes per week. In the group of nurses examined, 69% persons have completed qualifications and 5% specialty courses. Nurses cooperate mainly with speech therapists, educationalists, psychologists, rehabilitators, specialists in surdo-pedagogy and oligophreno-pedagogy. However, they attended meetings with parents very occasionally (8%) and rarely participated in staff meetings (8%). Besides, 29% of participants met with parents exclusively in case of emergency.
Conclusions: Nurses' working time in special education institutions according to the norms or work organization. Not all nurses working with disabled pupils have the required qualifications such as the completed specialty or qualification courses. Nurses working in special education do not fully use the possibility of cooperation with the families of disabled pupils and specialists in the therapeutic team.
Key words: disabled children, special educational needs, special education, nursing care, equalization of opportunities
In accordance with legal guidelines, disabled children and adolescents in Poland are obliged to attend a school. It gives an opportunity to initiate an educational-didactic process which should stimulate every child to develop their skills in different areas depending on their condition. It should be possible then, to have a choice of the course of education and the type of a school. As it often happens, handicapped children and teenagers need to be taught with regard to their specific educational needs (1). This type of teaching may take place in public schools, integrated schools or departments, special schools or departments, and in special educational centres. The main purpose of special schools and rehabilitative-educational centres is to realize rehabilitativeeducational classes in the framework of preschool and school education, one-year preparation for school-learning and vocational education. However, it may be associated with the prolonged time of education, and thus preschool education can last up to the 1 0th year of life, learning in the primary school up to the 21st year of life and in the high school up to the 24th year of life.
According to many authors, in case of disabled children, the best learning place is an integrated school. A stay in such an institution positively affects their development and creates the possibility of their full participation in a peer group (2, 3). This is associated with social integration of handicapped persons and also with a decrease of negative consequences of such equality of rights. This aim can be achieved by means of the so-called integration system (4). And yet, this system is not perfect. At first, the biggest problem of integrated schools was a deficiency of well-prepared teaching staff and lack of architectural solutions on the school premises (5). Currently, the school system for disabled children includes providing appropriate equipment and facilities as well as preparation of teaching staff (6). Another aforesaid option that has been used so far is a stay in special schools for disabled children and teenagers. These institutions offer rehabilitative and educational classes assuming educational programme, and the form of classes is adjusted to the type of pupils' disability e.g. deafness and milder hearing impairments or blindness and partial loss of vision. …