Country information for Sweden - Financing of inclusive education systems

Local authorities are bound by law to provide a number of basic services, of which childcare and pre-primary, compulsory and upper-secondary education are a major part. Municipalities can use collected taxes and state funding for the services and systems that are deemed best for their respective areas. About 15% of the total municipality budget is based on state grants (general and targeted). (Source: Financing of Inclusive Education – Sweden country report, p. 9).

Many municipalities delegate budgets directly to individual schools.

An amount of money is granted and follows each pupil to the school they choose, whether municipal or independent. A school that receives grants from the municipality is not entitled to collect school fees.

The responsibility for personal assistance and assistance benefit is divided between the municipality and the Social Insurance Administration in central government. The Social Insurance Administration makes decisions about assistance benefit for people who need personal assistance for their basic needs for more than 20 hours a week. If a person needs assistance for 20 hours per week or less, the municipality makes the decision. During schooling, it is usually the municipality that is responsible for allocating resources for assistance based on local conditions and needs. (Source: Financing of Inclusive Education – Sweden country report, pp. 17–18).

Through the National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools, the state offers special needs support, education in special schools, accessible teaching materials and government funding.

The National Agency runs three national and five regional special schools. The national schools cater for pupils with:

  • visual impairment combined with additional disabilities (MDVI);
  • deafness or hearing impairment combined with learning disabilities;
  • severe speech and language disorders.

Technical aid is accounted for by the regional counties.

All principals in the school system must systematically and continuously plan, monitor and develop education at their level. The planning, monitoring and development of education must also be carried out at pre-school and school unit levels. Principals are responsible for carrying out quality assurance at the units. Systematic quality assurance must be documented (Education Act, Chapter 4, 3–4 §).

Analysis and follow-up are critical elements that need to be prioritised in the development and improvement of operations. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), which advocates at local government level, has developed a quick guide, Open Comparisons, to support and provide tools for school development. Open Comparisons aims to encourage municipalities to analyse and compare results and learn from each other in order to improve quality and streamline operations. As a method, Open Comparisons is based on the idea that benchmarking drives development. Open Comparisons stands for a selection of key figures presented together to promote improvements that benefit the citizens.

Targeted grants from the state

  • State grants for higher education in special education 2020: to enable teachers and pre-school teachers to study for a special teacher or special education degree at university level.
  • State grants for strengthening staff competences regarding student health and special education in 2020: to enable schools to hire staff or to educate staff on matters regarding student health or special education.
  • State grant for learning about special education pedagogy 2019/20: to develop teacher competences in special education pedagogy. It aims to give them greater ability to meet the different needs of students.
  • State grant for the teacher campaign 2020: The government grant will make it easier for teachers to supplement their competence and expertise with courses within the Teacher Lift. The purpose is for the students to get a better teaching.

(Swedish National Agency for Education – Swedish only).

Early years education

Childcare is financed by locally collected tax revenues, state grants and parental fees. There are no separate funds for special education. Municipalities decide upon allocations in the same way for all childcare, and parental fees vary. In 2011, parental fees accounted for about 17% of the municipal total costs.

Pre-primary school fees are linked to family income and the number of hours the child attends. Since 2001, municipalities can adopt the system of maximum fee. This means that there is a ceiling for pre-primary fees set at about 1–3% of the family’s income, depending on how many children the family has.

Since January 2003, all children of four and five years of age are offered at least 525 hours of free schooling per year. The provision is mandatory for the municipalities, but children participate on a voluntary basis.

Compulsory education

Municipalities are responsible for educational provision and the education system is financed with locally collected tax revenues. There are no separate state funds for special education.

Each school is provided with a sum of money based on the number of pupils in the school. The school is responsible for allocating those means in a way that meets all individual needs. Schools can apply to the municipality for additional funding based on the individual needs of a pupil.

Pupils and their parents are not usually charged for teaching materials, school meals, health services and transport.

Many municipalities have resource centres that offer pedagogical support to schools and teachers.

Upper-secondary education

Upper-secondary education is free of charge. Municipalities are responsible for educational provision and the education system is financed with locally collected tax revenues. Financial assistance from the state, in the form of personal subsidies and loans, is available to adults attending most post-compulsory education.

Last updated 25/03/2020

Share this page: