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Special educators in Sweden: descriptions of their education and work
Högskolan Dalarna.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4793-871X
Karlstads universitet.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education. (PS)
2015 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this paper presentation is to provide an overview of special educators’ work in Sweden. The paper investigates special educational needs coordinators’ (SENCOs’) and special-education teachers’ perceptions of their occupational role, of their preparedness for the role and of how their role is practised. The paper also illuminates questions about special educators’ 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. A questionnaire was sent out in 2012 to all special educators in Sweden who were examined in the years and in accordance with the Swedish Examination Acts of 2001, 2007 and 2008 (N= 4252, 75% response rate). The study is unique in terms of three aspects. Firstly, it is unique due to the large-scale data collection. Secondly, the education of special educators in Sweden is in an international perspective unique. Swedish special educators have to study one and a half years (advanced level) following a degree in teaching in order to get a degree as a SENCO or a special-education teacher and thirdly, the Swedish school system has been long renowned for its ambition to be a school for all, i.e. for its inclusive tendencies. Thus, special educators have supposedly played an important part in this effort for a more inclusive school system. According to the results, special educators state that they are well prepared to work with some tasks, such as counseling, 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. Primarily using Abbott’s (1988) 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. This study is part of a research project called Special professions? – A project about special-education teachers’ and special educational needs coordinators’ education and work and is funded by the Swedish Research Council.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-270185OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-270185DiVA: diva2:886255
The 43rd Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA) congress, Marketisation and Differentiation in Education, 4-6 March, 2015, Göteborgs Universitet, Göteborg
Available from: 2015-12-22 Created: 2015-12-22 Last updated: 2016-04-18

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