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Initial identification of special educational needs - Norway

Special needs education is governed by section 5-1 of the Norwegian Education Act, which reads as follows: Pupils who do not have or cannot receive satisfactory benefits offered by the mainstream curriculum have the right to special needs education. The guiding principle, as mentioned earlier, is that the pupils must have the education offered at their residency-based school. In order to give a pupil special needs education, it is legally mandated that an expert assessment exists and that it must also refer to the type of education that will be offered. In other words, it is the needs of the pupil that determine the content of the education offered. A large emphasis must be placed on the views of the parents when special needs education is offered. It is true that a provision exists in the law to the effect that pupils can be moved to a different school when regard for the other pupils dictates such, however this legal provision is only rarely used and only then in quite special circumstances often associated with serious behavioural problems. If the provision concerning moving the pupil to another school is invoked, the pupil cannot be moved such that the pupil has to move away from home or that the distance becomes disproportionately far.

The principle in Norway is that pupils with special educational needs must also be encompassed by the same rights and obligations with respect to schooling. Pupils receiving special needs education must have the same number of hours of teaching as other pupils. The education offered must be based on the national curricula, but have such content as is necessary for the pupil to receive reasonable benefits from them. For pupils receiving special needs education, an individual education plan must be made. This plan of education must be based upon the national curricula, but be adapted for the individual pupil. The plan must show the goals and content of the education, plus it must also show how the education will be operated. For pupils with an individual education plan, the school must prepare a written overview each year of the education the pupils have received and an assessment of the progress made by the pupils. This written feedback must then be sent to the pupil, the parents and to the owners of the school.

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