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 the taxes that they collect and state funding as they deem appropriate to offer services and systems to their inhabitants. Nationwide, around two thirds of municipal budgets come from their own tax collection, while slightly over 20% comes from the national government. However, different municipalities’ tax volumes vary significantly across the country.

An amount of money is granted and follows each learner to the school they choose, whether municipal or independent. A school that receives grants from the municipality is not entitled to collect school fees. Many municipalities delegate budgets directly to individual schools.

The responsibility for personal assistance and assistance benefits is divided between the municipality and the Social Security Administration at the national level. The Social Security Administration makes decisions about assistance benefits for people who need personal assistance to fulfil their basic needs for more than 20 hours a week. If a person needs assistance for 20 hours per week or less, the municipality decides. During school time, the municipality is usually responsible for allocating resources for assistance based on local conditions and needs.

Through the National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools, the state offers special educational needs advice and 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 learners with:

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

Technical aid is accounted for by the regional counties.

All head teachers 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. Head teachers are responsible for quality assurance at their unit. Systematic quality assurance must be documented (Education Act, Chapter 4, 3–4 §).

In 2018, the Government instructed the Swedish National Agency for Education, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate, the National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools and the Swedish Institute for Educational Research to collaborate on developing a framework for quality assurance, with a clear set of goals, sub-goals and indicators. The framework would form the basis for an on-going dialogue between the national authorities and school organisers around the country. Since September 2022, the National Agency for Education and the National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools have been collaborating in carrying out this dialogue with school organisers.

Targeted grants from the state

A wide range of state grants are available for municipalities, schools and individuals to apply for. Examples of grants that target specific needs in the education system include:

  • State grants for further study in special educational needs to enable teachers and pre-school teachers to study for a special educator or special educational needs specialist degree at university level.
  • State grants for strengthening staff competence regarding learner health and special education.
  • State grant for broadening all teachers’ understanding of special educational needs: to entrench a whole school approach to special educational needs.
  • State grant for the teacher skills campaign: The government grant makes it easier for teachers to improve their competence and expertise with courses offered through the campaign to heighten teaching competence across the country.

(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.

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 aged four and five years 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 learners in the school. The school is responsible for allocating those funds in a way that meets each individual learner’s needs. Schools can apply to the municipality for additional funding if an individual learner’s needs go beyond what is provided for through special educational measures and an action plan, according to the Education Act.

Learners and their parents are not charged for teaching materials, school meals, health services or 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 13/03/2023

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