Since 2002, school trial projects have been carried out to reshape upper secondary education. One central aim is reduction of class repetition by offering individual learning support (Individuelle Lernbegleitung, ILB). Focus is on supporting pupils with learning difficultires, as well as on encouraging high performers.
ILB is a measure for pupils who fail to pass exams and do not complete their current term successfully. The measure applies to upper secondary schools which offer at least a three-year track (VET schools, VET colleges, and general education), beginning as early as in year 10, the second year of upper secondary education. The measure offers individually-tailored support to reduce negative results and improve school careers. Hence, learning support is defined as a process and includes:
(a) organising learning processes, targets, and examination dates;
(b) planning and developing learning strategies, and providing didactic support;
(c) attending remedial lessons and arranging exercises.
Individual learning support is offered by tutors, who are selected teachers at the respective school with an appropriate professional background, skills to handle pupils with learning difficulties and who have completed a relevant training programme and/or acquired relevant competences. They are nominated by their headmasters.
To fulfil their tasks, tutors are supposed to document the process. They can organise regular meetings with students’ parents and other school teachers and attend and call school conferences. How long pupils are provided with ILB is decided individually.
Tutor training (64 units) is provided as sequential courses and covers legal and strategic frameworks, diagnosis of potential and deficits, development of learning strategies, and process management. Attendance of the first part (frameworks) is compulsory; for the following parts, competences have to be proved, for example via prior learning, or can be achieved through the offered courses.
The ILB scheme is a major initiative of the Ministry of Education and Women’s Affairs ‘new upper secondary education’. The legal framework was introduced in 2012. Starting from school year 2013/14 until 2016/17, schools can implement the ‘new upper secondary education’ programme by means of school trial projects. Respective training has been piloted by university colleges of teacher education in Upper Austria and Tyrol since March 2014 and will be implemented all over Austria in September/October 2014. Currently, university colleges are facing great demand for the training scheme.