The EASIE data collection covers all recognised forms of education at ISCED levels 02, 1, 2 and 3.
This means any type of education organised by or approved by any recognised educational provider in the public or private sector: municipality, local or regional educational provider from the public or private sector, working with/for ministries responsible for education and areas such as health, social, welfare, labour, justice, etc.
What are the typical age ranges for the ISCED levels?
|ISCED LEVEL 02
|ISCED LEVEL 1
|ISCED LEVEL 2
|ISCED LEVEL 3
|16-18 (In upper-secondary education for learners with learning disabilities the typical age range is 16–19 at ISCED level 3)
Private sector schools (independent schools) have the same obligations as public sector schools to provide data to the Swedish National Agency for Education. In Sweden, these independent schools must be approved by the Schools Inspectorate and follow the national curricula and syllabuses, just like municipal schools. However, private sector schools are led by a school board and not by the municipality’s educational administration.
The ‘Special forms of education’ section in the Education Act regulates education in the health sector, special youth homes (SiS), international schools and learners who fulfil compulsory schooling in another way. The data monitoring system often considers special forms of education as temporary and data about these learners relates to the school they normally or previously belonged to. Data is only collected from international schools as an ordinary educational setting.
In the EASIE data collection, an inclusive setting is operationally defined as:
A recognised form of education where the child/learner follows education in mainstream classes alongside their peers for the largest part – 80% or more – of the school week.
The 80% time placement benchmark clearly indicates that a child/learner is educated in a mainstream class for the majority of their school week. At the same time, it acknowledges possibilities for small group or one-to-one withdrawal for limited periods of time (i.e. 20% or one day a week).
Very few participating countries can provide exact data on children/learners spending 80% of their time in a mainstream group/class. However, all countries can apply one of three agreed proxies that provide an approximation to this benchmark:
- Placement in a mainstream class implies over 80% or more
- Data is available on the number of hours of support allocated to a child/learner
- Placement in a mainstream class implies over 50% or more.
In the EASIE data collection, the agreed operational definition is:
An official decision leads to a child/learner being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.
Countries may have different types of official decision, but for all official decisions:
- There has been some form of educational assessment procedure involving different people. This procedure may involve the child/learner, parents, school-based team members, as well as professionals from multi-disciplinary teams from outside the child’s/learner’s (pre-)school.
- There is some form of legal document (plan/programme, etc.) that describes the support the child/learner is eligible to receive, which is used as the basis for decision-making.
- There is some form of regular review process of the child/learner’s needs, progress and support.
The Swedish processes for official decision of special educational needs (SEN) match the operational definition in the EASIE data collection.
- There has been a form of educational assessment procedure involving different people. This procedure always involves the learner, guardians, school-based team members, and sometimes professionals from multi-disciplinary teams from outside the learner’s (pre-)school. The involvement depends on what kind of SEN decisions are to be made.
- There is a specific form of legal document, an Action programme, that describes the support the learner is entitled to receive, which is used as the basis for decision-making. The Action programmes are used in mainstream schools, compulsory special needs schools, compulsory schools for pupils with learning disabilities and upper-secondary education for pupils with learning disabilities. Decided actions are implemented in the ordinary school or in another settlement, sometimes central municipality resource units are used. The primary focus is that actions should take place among the learners’ regular peers by adjusting the learning environment. The Action programme is decided by the head teacher. The head teacher may not assign the decision-making to anyone else if the decision implicates that special support must be given in a special teaching group, as individual teaching, in form of distance or other education or in form of an adapted study programme. In the data provided, learners in compulsory mainstream school with an official decision of SEN include all learners with an Action programme and also learners with individual teaching, special teaching group and/or adapted study programme, even if an Action programme has not been identified. This procedure was introduced in the 2019–2020 data collection, due to the fact that all learners with interventions should have an Action programme according to the Education Act (2010:800). In pre-school class the learners only receive Action programmes.
- There is a regular review process linked to an Action programme. Each person responsible for an action set in an Action programme must ensure that what is decided is actually implemented, and to continuously assess whether their way of working is effective or whether it needs to be changed. At an agreed time, the school must evaluate how the action programme has worked. It is not regulated how this evaluation should be made, but the learners and their guardians should be given an opportunity to participate in the evaluation.
Notice that the EASIE definition of decision in the case of Sweden applies to both learners attending a compulsory special needs school or a compulsory school for pupils with learning disabilities, upper-secondary education for pupils with learning disabilities and also learners in a mainstream school with an Action programme. Sometimes learners in the compulsory special needs schools and the compulsory schools for pupils with learning disabilities and upper-secondary education for pupils with learning disabilities also have Action programmes, but in this definition learners in these schools are included regardless of Action programmes. Since the 2018–2019 collection, data for Sweden has included learners with Action programmes and learners with individual teaching, special teaching group and/or adapted study programmes in compulsory mainstream schools. Before 2018–2019, data included placement only. This affects the comparability over the years.
Learners in compulsory schools for pupils with learning disabilities can receive education in compulsory school if the head teachers concerned agree on this and the learner’s guardians allows it. This means that there are learners in compulsory schools for pupils with learning disabilities who receive their teaching in a mainstream class. These learners are called ‘integrated learners’. For learners who receive education in another type of school, the regulations concerning the original type of school apply.
For upper-secondary school and upper-secondary education for pupils with learning disabilities, there is no regulation in the Education Act that supports the possibility of integration. However, collaboration between these types of schools is also possible.
To attend a compulsory school for pupils with learning disabilities or upper-secondary education for pupils with learning disabilities, the municipality where the learner lives is responsible for learners’ school attendance and for the educational assessment procedure. The assessment involves medical, social, psychological and pedagogical evaluation. Different specialists are involved in the different evaluations. This includes a licensed physician, a licensed psychologist, a social welfare officer and SEN experts. The municipality makes the summarised decision.
To attend a compulsory special needs school there is foremost an assessment to see if the learner belongs to the target group. The guardians provide medical and often psychological journals to be presented to the specific decision-making body, the board of Admission within the National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (SPSM). The board consists of different professionals from healthcare, social welfare and education
The first step of the support process towards an official decision of Action programme is called extra adjustments, which are made by teachers. If these adjustments are not considered sufficient for the learner the teacher informs the head teacher who conducts an educational screening and assessment to see if there are special educational needs. The head teacher usually involves the school health service. If necessary the head teacher can call for external assessment, e.g. medical, psychologist, social welfare. If the learner needs specific educational support the decision is manifested in the Action programme where the different actions also are listed.
In the first two processes the guardians ordinarily are the ones applying for their child to be received at the schools. The Action programme process may be initiated by the teacher or the head teacher or the guardians, but could be done without parental involvement. However, there are strong recommendations in the Education Act to co-operate with guardians. In all processes, there is by law an obligation to listen to the learners and to consider what is best for them.
To be received in compulsory special needs schools there is a formal decision from a specific decision-making body, the board of Admission within the National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (SPSM).
The responsible decision-maker in the municipality signs the official decision for attending schools for pupils with learning disabilities. Usually this decision also needs a written approval from the learner’s guardians. To receive supplementary support in compulsory special needs schools, in compulsory schools for pupils with learning disabilities, upper-secondary education for pupils with learning disabilities and in mainstream schools, the legal document is called Action programme.
The Action programme describes the support the learner is entitled to receive. The first part of the Action programme states the need for special support. The second part lists the actions that are considered relevant. The actions must consider both the learner’s need for special support and the learning goals in the curriculum or the learning requirements that should at least be achieved. The actions need to be concrete and evaluable, which means that the action programme includes information about how and to what extent the learner is to receive support. Each person responsible for an action then ensures that what is decided is actually implemented, and continuously assesses whether their way of working is effective or whether it needs to be changed.
At an agreed time, the school must evaluate how the Action programme has worked. It is not regulated how this evaluation should be made, but the learners and their guardians should be given an opportunity to participate in the evaluation.
The official decision of being received in a compulsory special needs school, a compulsory school for pupils with learning disabilities or upper-secondary education for pupils with learning disabilities follows a review that includes a pedagogical, psychological, medical and social assessment according to the Educational Act.
In pre-school classes and in primary schools screening tests are used to secure early intervention. The tests are based on national mapping materials in the subjects Swedish, Swedish as a second language and mathematics.
There are also individual development planning and national tests. Learners in grades 3, 6 and 9 in compulsory school are entitled to complete national tests in some subjects (in special needs schools the grades are 4, 7 and 10, in upper-secondary education there are national tests in the same courses instead of grades). The tests support teachers in the assessment of the pupils’ knowledge linked to the educational requirements in the curricula. The tests are constructed at universities on behalf of the National Agency for Education.
Within the frame of individual plans, national tests or whenever a need for support occurs, the teachers can make extra adjustments without any formal decisions or large screenings. This way the learner is reviewed more often, they do not have to wait for a process of official decision but this is linked to a possible decision later on. This is mainly teachers’ responsibility.
The Action programmes are formally submitted to review every year, or more often if needed. This is the responsibility of both teachers and the head teacher.
Within the EASIE data collection, specific questions examine children/learners who are out of education. This means children/learners who should, by law, be in some form of recognised education, but who are out of any form of recognised education. A recognised form of education is any type of education organised by or approved by any recognised educational provider in the public or private sector.
In Sweden all learners have access to mainstream compulsory school. It is normally a parental choice not to attend a mainstream school. Guardians usually have to actively apply for access to a compulsory special needs school, a compulsory school for pupils with learning disabilities or an upper-secondary education for pupils with learning disabilities. Learners in compulsory education (ISCED 1 and 2) can attend schools with different curricula and different providers. The placement in mainstream school is regarded as a measure of access to inclusive education. This is one criterion that the Convention recommends. But it also highlights that at the society level a compulsory special needs school could be regarded as inclusive education because of the human right of communication.
Placement in a mainstream class implied previously in the data collection to 50% or more, i.e. learners educated according to the curriculum of the schools for pupils with learning disabilities were educated in mainstream classes for half the time or more were included. This proxy indicated that the learners spent more time in mainstream settings than in segregated settings. However, the placement in a mainstream class among these learners is no longer measured in time, the data now provided for these pupils is only about occurrence of placement in mainstream classes, except for pupils in upper-secondary schools for pupils with learning disabilities.
According to the Education Act learners shall be present at school and participate in the activities the school arranges in order to get the intended education. The term absence, or out of education, is not specifically regulated. Thus, the school or the teacher decides, and usually reports, if the learners have been present or absent. Unauthorised absence is when guardians (or learners themselves from 18 years of age) do not inform or confirm the absence to the school.
In special cases, learners may be able to fulfil their school obligations outside the Swedish school system. It is called in the Education Act to ‘fulfil compulsory schooling in another way’. There has to exist extra strong reasons and the provision are used very restrictively. In 2020/21, 132 learners (ISCED 1 and ISCED 2) were permitted by their municipalities to fulfil their compulsory schooling in another way. The National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools examines whether learners who go to or should have gone to compulsory special needs schools will be allowed to fulfil their compulsory schooling in another way.
Learners who are not cared for in hospital, but due to illness or similar reasons are unable to participate in regular school work for a longer period of time, are entitled to special education at home or in another suitable place. Special education at home or in another suitable place is not part of the school system but constitutes a special form of education. In 2020/21, 301 learners (ISCED 1 and ISCED 2) had special education at home or in another suitable place.