Sweden 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

The municipality is responsible for children’s/learners’ school attendance and for the educational assessment procedure. The assessment involves medical, social, psychological and pedagogical evaluation.

How the multi-disciplinary team is comprised in the country

Different specialists are involved in the different evaluations. The team includes a licensed physician, a licensed psychologist, an educational welfare officer and SEN experts.

The multi-disciplinary team may include members from within and external to the child’s/learner’s school. The municipality is responsible for carrying out the overall assessment based on the evaluations.

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

The responsible decision-maker in the municipality signs the official decision. When the decision is signed, the child/learner has the right to attend a special programme for children/learners with learning disabilities or a special school. The decision also needs written approval from the child’s/learner’s legal guardian.

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

The document gives the child/learner the right to attend a special programme for children/learners with learning disabilities or a special school. The evaluation can be used as the basis for planning, but is not regulated under the Education Act. According to the Education Act, there are other documents that can be used as the basis for planning, e.g. an individual development plan and an action plan of provision.

The formal, regular review process in the country

If the school detects that the child/learner does not belong to the target group for a special programme for children/learners with learning disabilities or a special school, as per the decision, the municipality of residence has to be notified and an investigation must be conducted.


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 50% or more.

Details on what the country proxy is

For half the time or more, the children/learners are educated according to the special programmes curriculum when educated in mainstream classes.

Why this proxy was used

Data about children/learners in special programmes is collected as grouped data and integration has to be measured in the same way for all children/learners. This proxy indicates that the children/learners spend more time in mainstream settings than in segregated settings.

Difficulties in using the proxy

There is always uncertainty in grouped data, for example the risk of double registration of children/learners. Another difficulty may be for the person reporting the data to know exactly whether the child/learner has a placement in a class that implies 50% or more.

Specific country issues in applying the proxy indicator

Not applicable.


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, Sweden uses the same definitions as ISCED.

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

The present Education Act (2010:800) is very restrictive regarding home education. Children/learners who are too ill to attend school can receive schooling in their home or in hospital (särskild undervisning) for a longer period. This is very rare; in the 2016/2017 school year, 372 learners (ISCED 1 and ISCED 2) had schooling at home or in hospital.

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

Every child/learner should be in formal education. It is not possible to provide any data about non-formal education as defined by ISCED.

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

Learners in compulsory education (ISCED 1 and 2) can attend schools with different curricula and different providers. The Swedish National Agency for Education collects data from alternative compulsory schools, such as Sami schools (ethnic orientation), special schools and special programmes. There are also other alternatives in the education system, including international schools, national boarding schools, special youth homes and Swedish schools abroad.

The section on ‘Special forms of education’ in the Education Act regulates education in the health sector, special youth homes, international schools and home education. The data monitoring system considers special forms of education as temporary settings and data about learners relates to the school they normally belong to. Data is only collected from international schools as an ordinary educational setting. It is currently not possible to provide any data about non-formal education as defined by ISCED.

The following paragraphs of Chapter 24 (Särskilda utbildningsformer) of the Swedish Education Act (Skollagen 2010:800) regulate special educations forms in the compulsory education system (no English translation available):

  • internationella skolor (§§ 2–7)
  • utbildning vid särskilda ungdomshem (§§ 8–9)
  • utbildning för barn och elever som vårdas på sjukhus eller annan motsvarande institution (§§ 16–19)
  • utbildning i hemmet eller på annan lämplig plats (§§ 20–22)
  • annat sätt att fullgöra skolplikten (§§ 23–26).


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

Municipalities, the county council and the state regulate teaching within the education system. Private actors may also be permitted to provide education. Public and private schools have equal rights and, basically, follow the same set of regulations. However, private sector schools are led by a school board and not by the municipality’s educational administration.

Child/learner population counted for each relevant question

Private sector schools (independent schools) have the same obligation as public sector schools to provide data to the Swedish National Agency for Education.

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

Data about learners in denominational schools (ISCED 1 and ISCED 2) was collected as grouped data.


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): NA

Age range in the country at ISCED level 1: 7 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



Additional remarks, comments or explanations on the country background information

Upper-secondary school (ISCED 3) is not mandatory; there is no theoretical age range for upper-secondary school. However, most learners continue from ISCED 2 to ISCED 3.


2012/2013 and 2014/2015 data background information

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

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