Norway background information


How the official decision of special educational needs (SEN) in the country relates to the agreed EASIE operational definition

Operational definition

An official decision leads to a child/learner being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.


Criteria for an official decision of SEN

  • There has been an educational assessment procedure involving a multi-disciplinary team
  • The multi-disciplinary team includes members from within and external to the child’s/learner’s (pre)school
  • There is a legal document which describes the support the child/learner is eligible to receive and which is used as the basis for planning
  • The official decision is subject to a formal, regular review process

Educational assessment procedure in the country

Before the municipality or the county authority decides on whether or not a child/learner should receive special education, an expert assessment of the child’s/learner’s specific needs is carried out. The Educational and Psychological Counselling Service conducts the assessment. The assessment determines whether the child/learner needs special education and what kind of instruction should be provided.

The expert assessment considers and determines the following:

  • The child’s/learner’s learning outcomes from mainstream educational provision
  • The child’s/learner’s learning difficulties and other special conditions of relevance to education
  • Realistic educational objectives for the child/learner
  • Whether it is possible to provide help for the child’s/learner’s difficulties within mainstream educational provision
  • What kind of instruction it is appropriate to provide.

How the multi-disciplinary team is comprised in the country

The Education Act does not regulate multi-disciplinary teams. However, it regulates the Educational and Psychological Counselling Service (PPT), an expert body external to the child’s/learner’s school. The Act stipulates that the PPT is responsible for producing expert assessments where the law demands it, both in respect of school pupils and children under compulsory school age. The PPT also has a statutory responsibility for contributing to the development of competences and organisational development in schools.

The legal document used in the country to outline the support that the child/learner is eligible to receive

The municipality or county decides on whether or not the child/learner should receive special education, based on an expert assessment of their specific needs. If the decision of the municipality or county authority differs from the expert assessment, the municipality or county authority explains the grounds for the decision, including, among other things, why it believes that the instruction received by the child/learner nevertheless fulfils their rights.

How the document is used as the basis for planning in the country

An individual education plan (IEP) is prepared for children/learners receiving special education. The IEP specifies educational objectives and content and indicates how the teaching is to be carried out.

The formal, regular review process in the country

Once every year, the school prepares a written summary of the education received by the child/learner and an assessment of their development. The child’s/learner’s development must be assessed on the basis of the aims stipulated in the child’s/learner’s individual curriculum. The school sends this summary and the assessment to the child/learner or to their parents and to the municipality or county authority.


Proxy indicator for the 80% benchmark used for the country’s data collection

The EASIE work uses an 80% benchmark of inclusive education. This is defined as:

An inclusive setting refers to education where the child/learner with SEN follows education in mainstream classes alongside their mainstream peers for most – 80% or more – of the school week.

Proxy indicator used

Placement in a mainstream class implies over 80% or more.

Details on what the country proxy is

It refers to the number of children/learners affiliated with a dedicated special needs unit. These units may be separate special schools or dedicated special needs departments in mainstream schools.

Why this proxy was used

Data is available on the number of children/learners receiving special needs education on a one-to-one basis with a teacher or teaching assistant or in small groups outside mainstream classes. Most of these children/learners spend more than 80% of their time in mainstream classes, but there are no exact numbers on this. The best proxy that could be found is the number of children/learners affiliated with a dedicated special needs unit.

Difficulties in using the proxy

The numbers of children/learners in Question 2 of the table entitled ‘Children/learners with an official decision of SEN’ – Children/learners with an official decision of SEN educated in mainstream groups/classes for at least 80% of the time – may be a little bit too high.

Specific country issues in applying the proxy indicator

No issues.


Detailed description of what ‘out of formal education’ means within the country

The 2011 International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) defines ‘formal education’ as follows:

[…] education that is institutionalised, intentional and planned through public organizations and recognised private bodies and, – in their totality – constitute the formal education system of a country. Formal education programmes are thus recognised as such by the relevant national education or equivalent authorities, e.g. any other institution in cooperation with the national or sub-national educational authorities. Formal education consists mostly of initial education […] Vocational education, special needs education and some parts of adult education are often recognised as being part of the formal education system. Qualifications from formal education are by definition recognised and, therefore, are within the scope of ISCED. Institutionalised education occurs when an organization provides structured educational arrangements, such as student-teacher relationships and/or interactions, that are specially designed for education and learning.

(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011, International Standard Classification of Education ISCED 2011, p. 11).

Do the country definitions of formal, non-formal and informal education differ from the ISCED definitions?

No, Norway uses the same definitions as ISCED.

How specific cases – such as home-educated children/learners – are considered

The school or local municipality is responsible for recording the number of children being home-educated. The municipality supervises compulsory education for children and young people who do not attend school and may also summon them for special tests.

The municipality shall require that a child or young person attend school if the requirements regarding home tuition laid down in the present Education Act and regulations issued pursuant thereto are not fulfilled.

Children/learners who are considered out of formal education (meaning those not in formal education as defined by ISCED)

Children/learners who are considered out of education are those who have not attended compulsory primary education at school and who are still outside school on 1 October. Children/learners with documented absences or those who have moved out of the country are not counted. Children/learners receiving home education are counted.

How the population of children/learners who are out of formal education is defined

Please refer to previous answer.


Provision of data on private sector education

The data collection covers all sectors of education, including numbers for the child/learner population in the private sector.

Private sector education in the country

The private sector is understood as private primary and secondary schools approved under the Private Education Act (Section 2-1) or the Education Act (Section 2-12). Running private primary and secondary schools is not permitted in Norway without this approval.

Child/learner population counted for each relevant question

Data on private sector education is included in all the data reported from GSI (the Primary and Lower-Secondary School Information System).

Specific issues with providing data on private sector education and how these have been overcome in the data collection

No issues.


ISCED level age ranges

The following are the most common (pre)school entrance ages and (pre)school leaving ages for the different ISCED levels:

Age range in the country at ISCED level 02 (pre-primary): 3 to 5

Age range in the country at ISCED level 1: 6 to 12

Age range in the country at ISCED level 2: 13 to 15

Age range in the country at ISCED level 3: 16 to 18


2012/2013 and 2014/2015 data background information

This country updated its background information for the 2014/2015 and 2016/2017 datasets. PDFs of the background information for the 2012/2013 dataset and the 2014/2015 dataset are available.

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