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Sweden:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

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Sweden:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

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Sweden:Early Childhood Education and Care

Sweden:Organisation of Programmes for Pre-Primary Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Pre-Primary Education

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Sweden:Organisation of the Pre-Primary Class

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in the Pre-Primary Class

Sweden:Assessment in the Pre-Primary Class

Sweden:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Sweden:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Sweden:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Sweden:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Sweden:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Sweden:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Sweden:Organisation of Upper General and Vocational Secondary Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Upper General and Vocational Secondary Education

Sweden:Assessment in Upper General and Vocational Secondary Education

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Sweden:Main Providers

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Sweden:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Sweden:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Sweden:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Sweden:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Management and Other Education Staff

Sweden:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Sweden:Management Staff for Higher Education

Sweden:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Sweden:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Quality Assurance

Sweden:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Sweden:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Educational Support and Guidance

Sweden:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Sweden:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Sweden:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Sweden:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Sweden:Mobility and Internationalisation

Sweden:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Mobility in Higher Education

Sweden:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Sweden:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Sweden:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Sweden:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Sweden:National Reforms in School Education

Sweden:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Sweden:National Reforms in Higher Education

Sweden:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Sweden:European Perspective

Sweden:Legislation

Sweden:Institutions

Sweden:Glossary

Special education for children and young people is provided within the: 

  • Compulsary school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (obligatoriska särskolan). 
  • The training school (träningsskolan), which provides instruction within five so called subject areas and not in traditional subjects, is for pupils who cannot assimilate instruction in a compulsory school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments.
  • The upper secondary school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (gymnasiesärskolan).
  • Special schools (specialskola) for for pupils with visual impairment and additional disabilities, deafness or impaired hearing combined with severe learning disabilities or congenital deaf-blindness, and severe speech and language disabilities.
  • The national upper secondary school for pupils with impaired hearing (riksgymnasiet för döva och hörselskadade).
  • Upper secondary schools for pupils with severe physical disabilities (riksgymnasium för svårt rörelsehindrade).
  • Education for adults (aged 20 or over) with severe intellectual impairments (särvux).

There are also resource centres for pupils in compulsory education with physical disabilities, including pupils who are deaf and blind, pupils with speech impairments, and pupils with impaired hearing and intellectual impairments. 

Compulsary education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (obligatoriska särskolan) and upper secondary education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (gymnasiesärskolan) is arranged by municipalities and independent organisers, however, the latter are few in this area and the range of their education is rather limited. Compulsory special schools (specialskola) are organised by the state, and the upper secondary school for pupils with impaired hearing (riksgymnasiet för döva och hörselskadade) is organised by the municipality of Örebro in accordance with an agreement with the state which finances the education. 

Any child with physical disabilities enrolled in compulsory education at a special school (specialskola) or a school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (särskola) may complete schooling in a way other than laid down in the Education Act. The board of the school takes such a decision. The alternative arrangements (e.g. home tuition) must clearly represent a satisfactory alternative to the education available under the provision of the law and must be subject to outside scrutiny. Authorisation for alternative tuition may be granted for one year at a time. During that time, the pupil's progress is monitored. Authorisation is revoked with immediate effect if the requisite scrutiny cannot be carried out or if it can be assumed that the conditions under which authorisation was granted have changed.

Definition of target groups

Pupils with severe intellectual impairments

Pupils who are considered unable to attain the knowledge goals of the compulsory school (grundskolan) due to intellectual impairments have a lawful right to education that covers both compulsory education for those with severe intellectual impairments (obligatoriska särskolan) and the equivalent for the upper secondary level (gymnasiesärskola). For pupils who cannot assimilate instruction in a compulsory school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments there is the training school (träningsskolan), which provides instruction within five so called subject areas and not in traditional subjects. This kind of school is intended for those who have an important and enduring intellectual disability due to neurological damage as well as those with autism or similar conditions.

Pupils with severe physical disabilities

Pupils with severe physical disabilities have the right to specially adapted education. The criteria for having the right to such education is that the physical disability itself or in combination with other functional disabilities means that the pupil cannot follow regular education, and also that the pupil need rehabilitation and in certain cases residential arrangements in pupil homes with appropriate care.

Admission requirements and choice of school

Compulsory education

Separate education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (obligatoriska särskolan) must be provided by the municipality. If the number of pupils in a municipality is small, it may have a co-operation arrangement with a neighbouring municipality. 

For those who are unable to follow the lessons in the compulsory school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (grundsärskolan) there is the training school (träningsskolan) with specific syllabi. Instead of individual subjects, the "training school" syllabus contains five subject areas: artistic activity, communication, motor skills, activities of daily living and awareness of reality. The content and scope of the subject areas is adapted to the pupil's own abilities. This means that an individual study plan is drawn up for each pupil.

Compulsory education for pupils with impaired hearing and intellectual impairment, and for pupils with visual impairment and additional disabilities, deafness or impaired hearing combined with severe learning disabilities or congenital deaf-blindness, and severe speech and language disabilities is carried out in special schools (specialskola). The speical schools are organised in five regional schools with regional catchment areas and three national schools. The national schools cater for pupils with impaired hearing and intellectual impairment, and for pupils with visual impairment and additional disabilities, deafness or impaired hearing combined with severe learning disabilities or congenital deaf-blindness, and severe speech and language disabilities.

The municipality provides each pupil with a place in a school as far as possible taking into account parental wishes regarding placement. The decision cannot be appealed. A decision not to accept a pupil in education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments because it is considered able to attend a regular school may be appealed to the Education Appeals Board (Skolväsendets överklagandenämnd). Nine years of schooling is compulsory and a pupil cannot be excluded from compulsory education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments.

The Board of Appeal for Education, (Skolväsendets överklagandenämnd)

Upper secondary education

Each municipality is obliged to provide a four-year training programme in the upper secondary school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments. The municipalities can either themselves arrange the education or cooperate with other municipalities. For pupils with impaired hearing there is one national upper secondary school (riksgymnasiet för döva och hörselskadade). For pupils with severe physical disabilities there are four national upper secondary schools (riksgymnasium för svårt rörelsehindrade) in different regions. See subsections for information concerning the different types of schools.

Special schools

The board of each special school (specialskola or riksgymnasiet för döva och hörselskadade) decides whether a child should be accepted. An application can be made by the child's parents or guardian or by the home municipality. Parents or guardians can appeal to the Education Appeals Board (Skolväsendets överklagandenämnd) against a decision to place a child in schools for pupils with deafness or impaired hearing, and for pupils with visual impairment and additional disabilities, deafness or impaired hearing combined with severe learning disabilities or congenital deaf-blindness, and severe speech and language disabilities (specialskola or riksgymnasiet för döva och hörselskadade). In Sweden nine-year compulsory schooling is obligatory and pupils cannot be excluded from the special school at the compulsory level. If there is reason to assume that a pupil's behaviour may harm other pupils or if there are other special reasons, the pupil may be excluded from education in the national upper secondary school for pupils with impaired hearing completely or partially for a maximum of two weeks or be excluded for a specific period, for a maximum of three terms from the time the decision is communicated.

Upper secondary schools for pupils with severe physical disabilities

Questions concerning the admission to education specially adapted to the needs of pupils with physical disabilities are examined by a special board (Board for education for pupils with physical disabilities) for such upper secondary schools. The decisions of the board may be appealed to the Education Appeals Board, but decisions concerning placement in a particular upper secondary school may not, however, be appealed.

Swedish Upper Secondary School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, (Riksgymnasiet för döva och hörselskadade, RGD-RGH)

The National Upper Secondary School for students with Physical Disabilities (Riksgymnasiet för svårt rörelsehindrade

The Board of Appeal for Education (Skolväsendets överklagandenämnd

Age levels and grouping of pupils

The number of pupils per class is not centrally regulated, however in education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments, work is carried out in smaller groups and staff/pupil ratios are much higher. The National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (Specialpedagogiska skolmyndigheten) is responsible for ensuring that there are teaching materials for different types of functional and intellectual impairments.

Compulsory education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (obligatoriska särskolan) is for children from the age of 7 to 16 with the right to a tenth year. It is up to each school organiser to organise schooling so that pupils are given the best possible conditions for achieving the goals of the school. Those who have started upper secondary education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (gymnasiesärskola) before 20 years of age are entitled to complete their education regardless at what age. The municipality decides how pupils are divided into groups.

Compulsory education in special schools (specialskola) covers 10 years for children from the age of 7 to 17. It is up to each school organiser to organise schooling so that pupils are given the best possible conditions for achieving the goals of the school – how pupils are divided into groups is not centrally regulated. Upper secondary education for pupils with impaired hearing (riksgymnasium för döva och hörselskadade) can be started when compulsory education is completed until the age of 20. The municipality decides how pupils are divided into groups.

Upper secondary education for pupils with severe physical disabilities can be started until the age of 21.

Swedish Upper Secondary School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, (Riksgymnasiet för döva och hörselskadade, RGD-RGH)

Curriculum, Subjects

The education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments aims at providing individually adopted education in accordance with the widely varying aptitude for learning. The school's responsibility for gearing teaching to each individual pupil is crucial in determining what material in the syllabi to cover and the approach to apply. One of the most important tasks of the compulsory education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments is to provide pupils with a sound basis for leading an active daily life and to prepare them for adult life. 

Compulsary education for pupils with severe physical disabilities

The compulsory school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (grundsärskolan) has its own curriculum and its own syllabus. This contains i.a. the goals to attain which stipulate the level of knowledge that pupils on the basis of their initial conditions should have attained on completion of schooling. The syllabi are designed to clarify what pupils learn, but at the same time provide great scope for teachers and pupils to choose teaching materials and working methods. On the basis of each pupil's preconditions and needs, an individual study plan is drawn up focusing on what it is possible for the pupil to develop and provide challenges for pupils' acquisition of knowledge.

For those who are unable to follow the lessons in the compulsory school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (grundsärskolan) there is the training school (träningsskolan) with specific syllabi. Instead of individual subjects, the "training school" syllabus contains five subject areas: artistic activity, communication, motor skills, activities of daily living and awareness of reality. The content and scope of the subject areas is adapted to the pupil's own abilities. This means that an individual study plan is drawn up for each pupil.

Upper secondary and adult education for pupils with severe physical disabilities

The curricula for the upper seconday school applies to the upper secondary school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments. Education for adults with severe intellectual impairments (särvux) is covered by the curriculum for adult education. For more information on the curricula, see 5.2 (Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education) and 6.2 - Curriculum. The curricula are supplemented by separate timetables and syllabi for the various types of school and by specific programme goals for the upper secondary school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (gymnasiesärskola) and the education for adults with severe intellectual impairments (särvux) corresponding to compulsory school.

The programs in the upper secondary school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments last for 4 years, and comprise at least 3 600 hours distributed over the core subjects, programme-specific subjects and eligible courses. Upper secondary education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments provides eight national programmes – arts, vehicle engineering, business and administration, handicrafts, hotel restaurant and catering, industry, media and natural resource use. Certain core subjects are common to all national programmes: Swedish/Swedish as a second language, English, mathematics, history, social studies, religious studies, general science, sport, health and arts. Vocational subjects for all national programmes may be studied, apart from the Arts Programme where aesthetic subjects are studied to the same extent. For pupils with interests other than those covered by any of the national programmes the board of education can provide a specially designed programme. This contains the same core subjects as the national programmes, but includes vocational training that can be a combination of courses from several programmes and local courses.

An individual programme can prepare a pupil for a subsequent transfer to a national or specially designed programme, give the pupil vocational training (yrkesträning) or occupational training (verksamhetsträning) and meet other special needs of the pupil. Vocational education (yrkesträning) should if possible with respect to the pupil's ability include Swedish, mathematics, social studies, sport, health and artistic subjects, in addition to the vocational training and practice. The study course for pupils in occupational training (verksamhetsträning) should include communication and social interaction, reality understanding and physical and social surroundings, artistic subjects, physical education and health as well as daily life activities.

The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) has drawn up syllabi for the education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (obligatoriska särskolan, gymnasiesärskola and särvux) while the Government determines their timetables. The timetables specify the minimum guaranteed teaching hours in different types of school as well as the scope for pupils' personal options and for the school's options. The syllabi and programme goals set out the goals of each course. As in all education, teachers have a wide degree of freedom together with pupils and parents to choose appropriate working methods and content.

There are no separate subjects directly related to ICT, but the use of ICT is common in many subjects where it is used as a tool.

Education for pupils in special schools

The goals for education for pupils with impaired hearing (specialskolor) and the national upper secondary school for pupils with impaired hearing (riksgymnasiet för döva och hörselskadade) are the same as for mainstream education at respective levels. Special goals apply in Swedish and English. The compulsory school for pupils with impaired hearing, specialskola should ensure that graduating pupils are bilingual i.e. can understand sign language and read Swedish, are able to express thoughts and ideas in sign language and can communicate in written English.

For education in special schools (specialskola) the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) has drawn up syllabi for subjects that have no equivalent in the mainstream education system, i.e. for second and third foreign languages, English, Swedish, sign language and dance and drama. For hearing pupils with severe language impairment (grav språkstörning) the rule is that music replaces dance and drama, and that Swedish replaces sign language. For other subjects the syllabi of the mainstream education apply. The timetables in compulsory school for pupils with impaired hearing are principally the same as for mainstream compulsory and the credit plan and programme goals for mainstream upper secondary education also applies to the upper secondary education for pupils with impaired hearing. Sign language is a core subject in all national and specially designed programmes in upper secondary school for pupils with impaired hearing and can as a result of the school head's decisions replace one or more courses in the study route, although not courses in Swedish.

Education for pupils with severe physical disabilities

To the extent that education can be adapted to the needs of pupils with physical disabilities the education is integrated with corresponding mainstream education in the municipality's upper secondary school. However, the time taken for studies may be increased if this necessary for a particular pupil. Pupils study the syllabuses of the upper secondary school, but if a pupil due to his/her physical disability experiences major difficulties in assimilating a part of the education, the pupil may be exempted from studying up to a maximum of half of a course in a regular syllabus without this having any impact on the credits awarded.

Education for adults with severe intellectual impairments

Specific programme goals set out the detailed goals for those parts of the education system for adults with severe intellectual impairments (särvux) that correspond to compulsory education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments. For upper secondary education for adults with severe intellectual impairments the goals of upper secondary education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments apply, see 12.2 - Education for Pupils with Severe Intellectual Impairments

Teaching methods and materials

The organisation of teaching is not centrally regulated. The school head and teaching staff have a great degree of freedom to plan lessons and choose methods and teaching material together with parents and pupils. The teaching is individually adopted.

The teaching material is free of charge in all education for pupils with special needs except for in education for adults with severe intellectual impairments (särvux) where pupils pay for their teaching material.

Overall responsibility for the development of teaching materials for children, pupils and adult students with physical disabilities rests with The National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (Specialpedagogiska Skolmyndigheten).

Progression of pupils

The same rules apply as for mainstream education; see 5.3 - Progression of Pupils for compulsory education or 6.3 - Progression of Pupils/Students for upper secondary education. As a general rule, if there is uncertainty about whether a pupil of compulsory school age should move to the next year, the decision rests with the head of the school, who should consult the pupil's parents or guardian.

For all pupils in schools for pupils with impaired hearing, an individual study plan is established, evaluated and reviewed. If it is the case that the pupil has attained the knowledge and is believed to have the capacity needed to attain the goals of mainstream compulsory education the pupil is transferred and can also receive additional support there.

Pupils from compulsory school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (grundsärskolan) are not eligible for the national or specially designed programmes at a mainstream upper secondary school since this requires passing grades in Swedish/Swedish as a second language, English and mathematics from compulsory school. It is however possible to study an introductory programme, individually adapted to the pupil, at the upper secondary level for pupils who are considered capable of managing in mainstream upper secondary education. Pupils in national and specially designed programmes in upper secondary schools for pupils with severe intellectual impairments also have the opportunity of studying courses in mainstream upper secondary education in subjects specific to a programme which have a vocationally oriented or arts profile, if the school head considers the pupil capable.

Certification

Pupils who attend compulsory school for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (grundsärskolan) receive a certificate specifying which programme they have completed. Grades are given on a pupil’s or parent’s request. In such cases, grades are given for the subjects on the timetable and in relation to the requirements set out in the syllabi. The new grading scale (2011) contains six levels and a seventh coding to indicate that a grade cannot be awarded. The five levels A-E denote pass results and F a non-pass result. If material for the assessment is entirely non-existent due to substantial absenteeism, a grade will not be awarded, and this will be designated by a horizontal line (dash - ). The grading scale is related to goals and national grading criteria exist for the highest, middle and lowest grading scales for pass results, i.e. A, C and E.Pupils in training school receive a certificate of attendance and at parents’ request a knowledge assessment. Pupils in upper secondary education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (gymnasiesärskola) and education for adults with severe intellectual impairments (särvux) are usually awarded grades on the same scale. Pupils at any level of education for pupils with severe intellectual impairments (obligatoriska särskolan, gymnasiesärskola or särvux) who do not achieve a passing grade are awarded a certificate showing that they have attended the course. Pupils in education for adults with severe intellectual impairment (särvux) who attend training school receive a certificate of attendance.

The grading of pupils in special schools (specialskola) is the same as in mainstream education. In compulsory school as well as in upper secondary school, grades are awarded on a six-point scale: the five levels A-E denote pass results and F a non-pass result. If material for the assessment is entirely non-existent due to substantial absenteeism, a grade will not be awarded, and this will be designated by a dash ( - ).