Background: There are two occupational groups in Sweden that are expected to have
significant impact on educational work related to children in need of special support.
These two groups are special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) and special
education teachers. In this paper, we use the collective name ‘special educators’ to
refer to both groups. Special educators are expected to have specific knowledge
regarding the identification of, and work with, school difficulties. However, there is
noticeably little research concerning these occupational groups. This study was
undertaken in order to further our knowledge about special educators’ work.
Purpose: The overall purpose of the present paper is to provide a first overview of
special educators’ work. The paper investigates these special educators’ perceptions
of their occupational role, of their preparedness for the role and of how their role is
practised. The paper also illuminates questions about SENCOs’ and special education
teachers’ knowledge and values as well as the grounds for the occupational groups
to claim special expertise related to the identification of, and work with, school difficulties.
Design and method: A questionnaire was sent out in 2012 to all SENCOs and special
education teachers in Sweden who received their degree from 2001 onwards and
in accordance with the Swedish examination acts of 2001, 2007 and 2008
(N = 4252, 75% response rate).
Results: According to the results, special educators state that they are well prepared
to work with some tasks, such as counselling, leading development work and teaching
children/pupils individually or in groups. Concurrently, there are tasks that the
groups are educated for (e.g. school-development work), which they seldom practise
in their daily work.
Conclusions: Primarily using reasoning concerning jurisdictional control, we discuss
SENCOs’ and special education teachers’ authority to claim special expertise in relation
to certain kinds of work, clients and knowledge and thus, their chances of gaining
full jurisdictional control in the field of special education.
Taylor & Francis Group, 2015. Vol. 57, no 3, 287-304 p.
special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs); special education, teachers; special educators; occupational role; profession; jurisdictional control