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  • 1.
    Cameron, David Lansing
    et al.
    University of Agder, Norway.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education. Uppsala universitet.
    School district administrators’ perspectives on the professional activities and influence of special educators in Norway and Sweden2014In: International Journal of Inclusive Education, ISSN 1360-3116, E-ISSN 1464-5173, Vol. 18, no 7, p. 669-685Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The purpose of this study is to investigate school district administrators’ perspectives concerning the professional activities and influence of special educators in Norway (n=266) and Sweden (n=290). We examine three themes drawn from a survey of practices and policies in each country: (a) the organisational arrangements in which special educators work, (b) perceived changes in special educators’ activities, and (c) ratings of special educators’ influence on the content of instruction and the availability of resources for children with special needs. Findings suggest that special educators frequently work in teams, function largely as advisors, and spend less time working with individual students than in previous years. There appears to be a more pronounced increase in special educators’ time devoted to advising and documentation in Sweden than in Norway. Swedish special educators were also more frequently described as working in multidisciplinary teams. Participants in both countries rated the influence of special educators significantly higher than that of parents and teachers on the availability and distribution of resources; and significantly higher than politicians, public officials, teachers, and parents with regard to influence over the content of instruction. We discuss these findings in relation to the goals and development of inclusive education in Scandinavia.

  • 2.
    Cameron, David Lansing
    et al.
    University of Agder.
    Tveit, Anne Dorthe
    University of Agder.
    Jortveit, Maryann
    University of Agder.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education. Uppsala universitet.
    Göransson, Kerstin
    Karlstads universitet.
    Nilholm, Claes
    Uppsala universitet.
    A comparative study of special educator preparation in Norway and Sweden2018In: British Journal of Special Education, ISSN 0952-3383, E-ISSN 1467-8578, Vol. 45, no 3, p. 256-276Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The purpose of this study was to explore similarities and differences between special educator preparation in Norway and in Sweden. Graduates of special education programmes at two Norwegian (n = 320) and two Swedish universities (n = 425) who completed their training between 2001 and 2012 responded to surveys. Findings indicate that both Swedish and Norwegian graduates felt prepared for their current work and that teaching approaches employed in the different programmes were similar. However, there appears to be a stronger focus on pupils’ social goals in Sweden, as well as on advising teachers, school development and promoting inclusive environments. In contrast, Norwegian participants reported a greater focus on preparation to work with specific types of learning and behavioural difficulties. Findings are discussed in relation to differing political and social structures, such as national regulations for steering special educator preparation in Sweden, which are absent in the Norwegian context.

  • 3. Enoksson, Helen
    et al.
    Lidar, Malena
    Uppsala universitet.
    Ungewitter, Annika
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education.
    Almqvist, Jonas
    Uppsala universitet.
    Studier i en främmande skolkultur2019In: Didaktisk utvecklingsdialog: Lärares och skolledares professionella utveckling / [ed] Anette Olin, Jonas Almqvist, Lisbeth Gyllander Torkildsen, Karim Hamza, Lund: Studentlitteratur AB, 2019, p. 49-65Chapter in book (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 4. Göransson, Kerstin
    et al.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education. Uppsala universitet.
    Klang, Nina
    Magnússon, Gunnlaugur
    Almqvist, Lena
    Professionalism, governance and inclusive education – A total population study of Swedish special needs educators2018In: International Journal of Inclusive Education, ISSN 1360-3116, E-ISSN 1464-5173, p. 1-16Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Prior research shows that special needs educators (SNEs) have had problems defining their occupational roles and jurisdiction, particularly regarding inclusive education. There are two occupational groups of SNEs in Sweden, namely special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) and special education teachers. In this paper, we use the collective name SNEs to refer to both groups. Here, results from a total population study of Swedish SNEs are presented (N?=?3367, response rate 75%). The aim is to explore differences in SNEs? interpretation of school difficulties and if these differences are influenced by SNEs? employment in different parts of the school organisation. Statistical cluster-analysis was used to categorise SNEs into five distinct groups based on how they view the problems of pupils in school difficulties. Key concepts employed in the analysis are, primarily organisational vs occupational governance in relation to professional jurisdiction. Findings suggest that SNEs are less unanimous in their views of school problems, than prior research indicates. The variance is partly due to where they work in the school organisation, but we also find indications that different groups of SNEs experience different forms of governance with regard to their professionalism. The results are important due to the scope of the data and method of analysis as well as the illustrated variance of professional values and situations of SNEs and the potential consequences for the development of inclusive education.

  • 5.
    Göransson, Kerstin
    et al.
    Karlstad universitet.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education. Uppsala universitet.
    Möllås, Gunvie
    Jönköping university.
    Almqvist, Lena
    Mälardalen university.
    Nilholm, Claes
    Uppsala university.
    Ideas about occupational roles and inclusive practices among special needs educators and support teachers in Sweden2017In: Educational review (Birmingham), ISSN 0013-1911, E-ISSN 1465-3397, Vol. 69, no 4, p. 490-505Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Special needs educators and their counterparts are expected to play a significant role in schools’ work towards inclusive practices. Studies do, however, indicate a rather diversified picture regarding the occupational groups assigned to work with special support and their workroles, within and between different countries. In Sweden, one can differentiate between two such occupational groups, special needs educators (SNEs) with qualifications in special educational needs at advanced level and support teachers (SuTs) with varying teacher education and education in special educational needs. The aims of this paper are to investigate the occurrence of SNEs and SuTs within the compulsory school system in ten municipalities in Sweden and the occupational roles of those SNEs and SuTs in relation to the inclusion agenda. A questionnaire was sent out in 2012 to all SNEs and SuTs in ten municipalities (n=511, response rate 61.6%). Main results indicate that: a) there is wide variation between municipalities regarding the extent to which SNEs or SuTs are assigned to work with special support; b) the characteristics of the occupational role of SNEs are more in line with inclusive practices than those of the role of SuTs; c) there is consensus between the two occupational groups regarding what they think should characterize the occupational role of SNEs; and d) SNEs consider, more than do the SuTs themselves, that the role of SuTs should be more in line with that of a ‘traditional special-education teacher’. Results are discussed in relation to Skrtic’s (1991, 1995) theoretical accounts of inclusive education and Abbott’s (1988) notion of jurisdictional control.

  • 6.
    Göransson, Kerstin
    et al.
    Mälardalens högskola.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education. Uppsala universitet.
    Nilholm, Claes
    Uppsala universitet.
    Voices of special educators in Sweden: a total-population study2015In: Educational research (Windsor. Print), ISSN 0013-1881, E-ISSN 1469-5847, Vol. 57, no 3, p. 287-304Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: There are two occupational groups in Sweden that are expected to have

    significant impact on educational work related to children in need of special support.

    These two groups are special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) and special

    education teachers. In this paper, we use the collective name ‘special educators’ to

    refer to both groups. Special educators are expected to have specific knowledge

    regarding the identification of, and work with, school difficulties. However, there is

    noticeably little research concerning these occupational groups. This study was

    undertaken in order to further our knowledge about special educators’ work.

    Purpose: The overall purpose of the present paper is to provide a first overview of

    special educators’ work. The paper investigates these special educators’ perceptions

    of their occupational role, of their preparedness for the role and of how their role is

    practised. The paper also illuminates questions about SENCOs’ and special education

    teachers’ knowledge and values as well as the grounds for the occupational groups

    to claim special expertise related to the identification of, and work with, school difficulties.

    Design and method: A questionnaire was sent out in 2012 to all SENCOs and special

    education teachers in Sweden who received their degree from 2001 onwards and

    in accordance with the Swedish examination acts of 2001, 2007 and 2008

    (N = 4252, 75% response rate).

    Results: According to the results, special educators state that they are well prepared

    to work with some tasks, such as counselling, leading development work and teaching

    children/pupils individually or in groups. Concurrently, there are tasks that the

    groups are educated for (e.g. school-development work), which they seldom practise

    in their daily work.

    Conclusions: Primarily using reasoning concerning jurisdictional control, we discuss

    SENCOs’ and special education teachers’ authority to claim special expertise in relation

    to certain kinds of work, clients and knowledge and thus, their chances of gaining

    full jurisdictional control in the field of special education.

  • 7.
    Kerstin, Göransson
    et al.
    Mälardalens Högskola.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education. Uppsala Universitet.
    Klang, Nina
    Mälardalens högskola.
    Magnússon, Gunnlaugur
    Mälardalens Högskola.
    Nilholm, Claes
    Malmö Högskola.
    Speciella yrken? Specialpedagogers och speciallärares arbete och utbildning: en enkätstudie2015Report (Other academic)
  • 8.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education and Humanities, Education.
    Arbete med barn i behov av särskilt stöd sett ur kommunalt perspektiv2013Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [sv]

    Olika yrkesgruppers syn på arbetet kring barn i behov av särskilt stöd i förskola och skola

    Presentationen tar sin utgångspunkt i en avhandling som behandlar hur pedagogisk personal och rektorer i en kommun ser på sitt arbete kring barn i behov av särskilt stöd (ex. varför barn är i behov av särskilt stöd, hur de ser på medicinsk diagnos och hur de menar att specialpedagogen ska arbeta). Den teoretiska utgångspunkten är ett sociokulturellt perspektiv. Från ett sådant perspektiv har skolpraktiker olika spatio‐temporala karaktäristika vilka är situerade i specifika sociokulturella miljöer. Studien tar även avstamp i kritisk pragmatism. Perspektivet används i studien för att studera och belysa komplexa fenomen utifrån olika aspekter. Studien består av fyra delstudier, presenterade i fyra artiklar. I delstudie 1 skickades 2008/2009 en enkät ut till all personal (N=1297) i förskola och skola (72,5 % svarsfrekvens). I delstudien 2 svarade samtliga 45 rektorer i kommunen på en webenkät. Den tredje delstudien beskriver olika yrkesgruppers syn på specialpedagogens roll och arbete. Den fjärde studien är en intervjustudie som presenterar fem grundskolerektorers beskrivningar av sitt arbete med elever och personal. Resultaten visar att det finns både likheter och skillnader mellan de olika yrkesgrupperna. Den största likheten finns i synen på varför barn är i behov av särskilt stöd. De flesta menar att orsaken är barnets individuella brister. Hälften av all pedagogisk personal svarade också att en medicinsk diagnos bör ha betydelse för att barn ska erhålla stöd. Skillnader mellan yrkesgrupperna blir exempelvis särskilt tydliga när de svarar på frågor kring specialpedagogens roll och arbetsuppgifter.

  • 9.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education. Uppsala universitet.
    God inkluderande lärmiljö: Rapport från en forskningscirkel genomförd mars 2017 – mars 20192019Report (Other academic)
  • 10.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education and Humanities, Educational Work.
    How do Teachers and Personnel in Preschool and School in a Swedish Municipality Look upon their Work with Children in Need of Special Educational Support? 2nd edition, revised version2010Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 11.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Educational Work.
    Olika yrkesgruppers syn på arbetet kring barn i behov av särskilt stöd inom förskola och skola2011In: Praktiknära utbildningsforskning vid Högskolan Dalarna / [ed] Bartholdsson, Åsa; Hultin, Eva, Falun: Högskolan Dalarna, 2011, p. 89-107Chapter in book (Other academic)
    Abstract [sv]

    Artikelns övergripande syfte är att redovisa hur pedagogisk personal och rektorer i en svensk kommun ser på arbetet kring barn i behov av särskilt stöd. Frågor kring inflytande, påverkan och kompetens samt styrdokumentens betydelse i samband med arbetet kring barn i behov av särskilt stöd ställdes. Personalens och rektorernas syn på orsaker till att barn hamnar i behov av särskilt stöd studerades också. Samtlig pedagogisk personal tillfrågades (N=1345) varav 73 % svarade. Bland rektorerna (N=45) var svarsfrekvensen 100 % . Den teoretiska ansatsen är socialkonstruktivistisk och verksamhetsteorin har använts för att studera och analysera kommunen och skolan som system. Resultaten visar bland annat att drygt en fjärdedel av all pedagogisk personal i kommunen anser att de har små möjligheter att påverka barns måluppfyllelse, att de flesta anger att speciallärare/specialpedagoger ska ha störst inflytande över arbetet kring barn i behov av särskilt stöd samt att orsakerna till att barn hamnar i behov av särskilt stöd oftast anses bero på barnets individuella brister.

  • 12.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education and Humanities, Educational Work.
    Piloted studies in using the Handbook in pre-service2007In: International Conference 'Teacher Education for Responding to Student Diversity', Malta, 2007Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 13.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Educational Work.
    SENCOs: Vanguards or in vain?2013In: Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, ISSN 1471-3802, E-ISSN 1471-3802, Vol. 13, no 3, p. 198-207Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In Sweden today, special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) are educated at universities to help resolve educational problems related to children in need of special support at three levels, i.e. the organizational level, the classroom level and the individual level. Before the education of SENCOs was created, in the early 1990´s, special teachers were the occupational group that worked primarily on an individual level. Children’s school problems were then seen as individual deficits. SENCOs can be seen as vanguards in changing an educational system from primarily focusing on an individual perspective to a broader focus on the entire learning environment.  How has the occupational role of SENCOs affected schools? The overall aim of this study is to investigate possible changes within a school system when the introduction of a new occupational group, SENCOs, challenges established structures. More specifically, this paper studies how different occupational groups view where, and in what ways, SENCOs work and should work. Three different questionnaires are the basis of this analysis of SENCOs´ present situation within the Swedish educational system. A number of interesting findings were detected in this study. For example, several occupational groups respond that SENCOs should work with individually taught special education. Meanwhile, a pattern emerges in which SENCOs seem to have partly established a new work role. However, little is known about how these changes affect children in need of special support. 

  • 14.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education and Humanities, Educational Work.
    Utvecklingsområden för arbetet med barn i behov av särskilt stöd i förskolan och skolan i Falu kommun: Delrapport2010Report (Other academic)
  • 15.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education and Humanities, Education.
    Who Should do What to Whom?: Occupational Groups´Views on Special Needs2013Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The overall aim of this thesis is to increase our knowledge of different occupational groups´ views on work with children in need of special support. This is explored in four separate studies.

    The first study investigates the views of occupational groups in preschools and schools in one municipality. A questionnaire was handed out to all personnel (N=1297) in the municipality in 2008 (72.5 % response rate). The second study explores the views of educational leaders (N=45) in the same municipality. Questionnaire # 2 was distributed in 2009. All the educational leaders responded to the questionnaire. The third study describes the views of different occupational groups concerning special educational needs coordinators´ (SENCOs) role and work. This was highlighted by comparing responses from questionnaire #1 and # 2. Responses concerning SENCOs´ work were also added using a third questionnaire. This questionnaire was handed out in 2006 to chief education officers (N=290) in all municipalities in Sweden. The response rate was 90.3%. Finally, the fourth study presents five head teachers´ descriptions of their work with special needs issues. Study four was a follow-up study of questionnaire # 2. These head teachers were selected because of their inclusive values and because they seemed to be effective according to certain criteria. They were interviewed in January 2012.

    The results reveal a number of interesting findings. For example, there are both similar and different views among the occupational groups concerning work with children in need of special support. A majority of the respondents in all groups state that children´s individual deficiencies is one common reason why children need special support in preschools/schools. Differences between the occupational groups become especially visible regarding their views of SENCOs‟ work.

    Critical pragmatism (Cherryholmes, 1988) is applied as a theoretical point of departure. Skrtic´s (1991) critical reading and analysis of special education relative to general education is specifically used to interpret and discuss the outcome of the studies. Additionally, Abbott´s (1988) reasoning concerning the “division of expert labor” is used to discuss the occupational groups´ replies concerning “who should do what to whom”.

    The findings in the studies are contextualized and theoretically interpreted in the separate articles. However in the first part of this thesis (in Swedish: Kappa), the theoretical interpretations of the empirical outcome are discussed in more detail and the results are further contextualized and synthesised. Inclusion and premises for inclusive education are also discussed in more depth in the first part of the present thesis.

  • 16.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education. Uppsala Universitet.
    Göransson, Kerstin
    Mälardalens Högskola.
    Nilholm, Claes
    Malmö Högskola.
    Special educators in Sweden: descriptions of their education and work2015Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The purpose of this paper presentation is to provide an overview of special educators’ work in Sweden. The paper investigates special educational needs coordinators’ (SENCOs’) and special-education teachers’ perceptions of their occupational role, of their preparedness for the role and of how their role is practised. The paper also illuminates questions about special educators’ knowledge and values as well as the grounds for the occupational groups to claim special expertise related to the identification of and work with school difficulties. A questionnaire was sent out in 2012 to all special educators in Sweden who were examined in the years and in accordance with the Swedish Examination Acts of 2001, 2007 and 2008 (N= 4252, 75% response rate). The study is unique in terms of three aspects. Firstly, it is unique due to the large-scale data collection. Secondly, the education of special educators in Sweden is in an international perspective unique. Swedish special educators have to study one and a half years (advanced level) following a degree in teaching in order to get a degree as a SENCO or a special-education teacher and thirdly, the Swedish school system has been long renowned for its ambition to be a school for all, i.e. for its inclusive tendencies. Thus, special educators have supposedly played an important part in this effort for a more inclusive school system. According to the results, special educators state that they are well prepared to work with some tasks, such as counseling, leading development work and teaching children/pupils individually or in groups. Concurrently, there are tasks that the groups are educated for (e.g. school-development work), which they seldom practise in their daily work. Primarily using Abbott’s (1988) reasoning concerning jurisdictional control, we discuss SENCOs’ and special-education teachers’ authority to claim special expertise in relation to certain kinds of work, clients and knowledge and thus, their chances of gaining full jurisdictional control in the field of special education. This study is part of a research project called Special professions? – A project about special-education teachers’ and special educational needs coordinators’ education and work and is funded by the Swedish Research Council.

  • 17.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education. Uppsala universitet.
    Göransson, Kerstin
    Mälardalens Högskola.
    Nilholm, Claes
    Malmö Högskola.
    Möllås, Gunvie
    Högskolan för lärnade och kommunikation, Högskolan i Jönköping.
    Cameron, David Lansing
    Universitet i Agder, Norge.
    Hannus-Gullmets, Britta
    Åbo Akademi, Finland.
    Special professions?: The role of special educators in the Nordic countries2014Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Special educators play a central role in schools´ work in relation to special educational needs. They represent, and are expected to represent, specific ways to identify and work with problematic school situations. Despite their important position, very little is known about what constitutes their professional role with regard to knowledge base, professional activities, legitimacy and status within the educational system. Little is also known about the conditions for developing a professional role, for example in relation to state and local policies.

    The purpose of this round table session is twofold: a) to discuss the role of special educators in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark and conditions for developing a shared understanding of the professional role within each country as well as between the countries; b) to discuss possibilities for joint, comparative studies within the field.

    Theoretical points of departure that will guide our discussions are: a) different perspectives on special needs education, the deficit or compensatory perspective (e.g. Ainscow, 1998; Haug, 1998), the relational perspective (e.g. Clark, Dyson & Millward, 1998; Persson, 1998; Skrtic, 1991) and the interactive perspective (Ainscow, 1998); b) different perspectives on professions, the knowledge base, the every-day practice of the profession, legitimacy and status (c.f. Collin, 1990; Gross, 1958; Torstendahl, 1990).

    Empirical points of departure will be preliminary results from three Swedish surveys: one total population survey of special pedagogues and special teachers examined between the years 2003-2011(N=4 252, response rate 75,0%) and one Swedish survey of all teachers working as special educators, resource teachers etc. (N=511, response rate 62,5%), in a sample of municipalities and one survey to all teaching staff and support staff in one municipality (N=1297, response rate 72,5%).

  • 18.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education. Uppsala universitet.
    Klang, Nina
    Uppsala universitet.
    Göransson, Kerstin
    Karlstads universitet.
    Special Professions?: A Presentation of a Research Project Concerning Special Educators´ Education and Work in Sweden2016Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Proposal information

    The purpose of this paper presentation is to provide overall findings generated from a research project funded by the Swedish Research Council concerning special educators’ education and work. The role of special educators, and their counterparts, is discussed in relation to implications for the development of inclusive education. The overarching research question concerns how special educators identify and shape their occupational role. More specifically the research questions presented below are:

    1. According to special educators, what characterizes the professional knowledge and values they claim that they represent? (Study 1)

    2.  What tasks do special educators consider to be characteristic of their occupational role, as practiced by them? (Study 1)

    3.  On what grounds can special educators claim special expertise concerning the identification of, and work with, school difficulties? (Study 1)

    4. To what extent are special educators and to what extent are support teachers assigned to work with special support in ten municipalities in Sweden? (Study 2)

    5. What work tasks characterize/constitute the occupational role of special educators, and what work tasks characterize/constitute the occupational role of support teachers? (Study 2)

    6. What work tasks do special educators and what work tasks do support teachers believe should characterize the two occupational roles? (Study 2)

    7. What characterizes the work tasks of six special educators who pursue a typical special educator role according to their survey ratings? (Study 3)

    8. What characterizes the contexts in which the six special educators enact their professional roles? (Study 3)

      Our theoretical point of departure is Skrtic’s (1991, 1995) reasoning concerning special education as a parallel system to regular education, which in turn, counteracts the development of inclusion. We also use Abbott’s (1988) notions of division of labor and jurisdictional control in order to better understand the formation of special educators’ role as well as conditions for special educators to develop inclusive practices. In study two, Skrtic’s (1991, 1995) theoretical accounts of inclusive education, and Abbott’s (1988) notion of jurisdictional control is specifically used to gain further understanding about the formation of special educators’ and support teachers’ role in relation to implications for inclusion.  In study 3, a typology of school contexts (Ball et al., 2012) is used to describe the complex local contexts in which special educators enact their professional roles.

      From an international viewpoint, this research project is of value for several reasons. Firstly, it involves large-scale data collections. While it has long since been common to use questionnaires in special needs research in order to study the views of different occupational groups, mostly teachers, it is still uncommon to study large samples of groups that are influential in special needs work (Göransson et al., 2015). Secondly, the education of special educators in Sweden is from an international perspective not at all typical. In Sweden a special educator has to study one and a half years (advanced level) following a degree in teaching in order to get a degree as a special educator. Thus, Swedish special educators have received comparatively more education than their counterparts in most other European countries (Göransson et al., submitted). This is of special interest since, thirdly, Sweden is still considered to have one of the most ‘inclusive’ educational systems in the world (OECD, 2011).

      Methods

      The project consists of three separate, yet linking studies. The first study is a questionnaire study which investigates all special educators in Sweden who were examined in the years and in accordance with the Swedish Examination Acts of 2001, 2007 and 2008 (N= 4252, 75% response rate). Thus, the first study is a total-population study of special educators in Sweden. The second study is a questionnaire study as well. It was distributed to all special educators and support teachers in ten municipalities (n=511, 61.6% response rate). Both questionnaires were distributed in 2012. Descriptive statistics are mostly used in the presentation of the data from the two questionnaires, since whole populations were studied. In questionnaire # 2, two independent samples t-tests were also used when data was analyzed. In study 3, case-study methodology (Merriam, 1992) was used to illustrate the complexity of enactment of special educator roles in local school contexts. Through purposive sampling, six participants were chosen from study 2 to represent typical special educators. Following criteria were used: (a) reported tasks corresponded to examination statutes (b) participants reported that they could influence the work at school. Within each case, data were collected using participant observations, diary recordings, and interviews with special educators, headmasters and teachers. Data analysis within and across cases was conducted to discern special educator roles and tasks as well as the contexts in which the roles were enacted.

      Conclusions

      According to the first study, special educators display a relational perspective on school difficulties. Regarding the mission of education they seem to represent what might be called an ‘equity discourse’ (cf. Englund and Quennerstedt, 2008), which is quite contradictory to the current education agenda, focusing excellence, increased goal attainment and accountability (Göransson et al., 2013). Special educators believe that they are well prepared to work with some tasks, such as counseling, leading development work and teaching children/pupils individually or in groups. Concurrently, there are tasks that they are educated for (e.g. school-development work), which they seldom practice. We discuss special educators’ authority to claim special expertise in relation to certain kinds of work, clients and knowledge (Abbott, 1988). Results from the second study indicate that there are wide variations between municipalities regarding to what extent special educators or support teachers work with special support. The characteristics of the occupational role of special educators are more in line with inclusive practices than the role of support teachers. Moreover, special educators consider that support teachers should work more as ‘traditional special teachers’, than do the support teachers themselves. In study 3, six categories of work tasks were discerned: teaching, social relational work, assessment, informing and following up, supporting and providing materials, school-development, and practical chores. The time devoted to these tasks varied among the six special educators. Related to Abbott’s concept of professional jurisdiction, it can be questioned whether the tasks the special educators as a group claim control over are unique to the profession. While teaching and assessment are typical across all cases, special educators’ conceptions of school-development tasks are quite different. How the role is enacted is also related to local school contexts (Ball et al., 2012), as situated school contexts, the material contexts and values and experiences of staff.

      References

    Abbott, A. (1988). The System of Professions. An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor. Chicago: University of Chicago.

    Ball, S. J., Maguire, M., & Braun, A. 1. (2012). How schools do policy: Policy enactments in secondary schools. London: Routledge.

    Englund, T. & Qennerstedt, A. (2008). Vadå likvärdighet? – studier i utbildningspolitisk språkbildning. [What Equivalence? - Studies in Education policy language education]. Gothenburg: Daidalos.

    Göransson, K., Lindqvist, G. & Nilholm, C. (2015) Voices of Special-educators in Sweden. A Total-population Study. Educational Research, 57, 287-304.

    Göransson, K., Lindqvist, G., Möllås, G., Almqvist, L. & Nilholm, C. (submitted) Ideas about occupational roles and inclusive practices among Special Needs Educators and Support Teachers in Sweden. Educational Review.

    Göransson, K., Malmqvist, J. and Nilholm, C. (2013). Local school ideologies and inclusion: the case of Swedish independent schools. European Journal of Special Needs Education. 28 (1), 49-63.

    Merriam, S.B. (1992). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

    Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2011). Social justice in the OECD: How do the member states compare? Sustainable Governance Indicators 2011. Gütersloh, Germany: Bertelsmann Stiftung.

    Skrtic, T. M. (1991). Behind special education.  A critical analysis of professional culture and school organization. Denver, CO: Love Publishing Company.

    Skrtic, T. M. (1995). Deconstructing/Reconstructing public education: Social reconstruction in the postmodern era. In T. M. Skrtic (Ed.), Disability and democracy: reconstructing (special) education in postmodernity, (233-273). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

  • 19.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education.
    Nilholm, Claes
    Head Teachers´ Strategies in Inclusive Schools- an Interview Study2012Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 20.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Educational Work.
    Nilholm, Claes
    Making schools inclusive?: Educational leaders´views on how to work with children in need of special support2013In: International Journal of Inclusive Education, ISSN 1360-3116, E-ISSN 1464-5173, Vol. 17, no 1, p. 95-110Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Educational leaders have a comprehensive responsibility for how preschools and schools work with children in need of special educational support. The aim of this research is to study how educational leaders (a) explain why children have problems in schools, (b) consider how preschools/schools should help children in need of special support and (c) the role they believe that Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) should have in such work. Educational leaders (N = 45) working in preschools and regular compulsory schools in a Swedish municipality responded (100%) to a questionnaire. According to the results of this study, this group seems to view difficulties in schools as being caused primarily by individual shortcomings. Educational leaders often advocate solutions that are closely linked to the work of special educators. The educational leaders believe SENCOs should work with supervising staff and focus on documentation and evaluations. Preschool leaders attribute children's need of special support to teachers more often than their colleagues in compulsory schools.

  • 21.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education. Department of Learning and Communication, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden.
    Nilholm, Claes
    Malmö University.
    Promoting inclusion?: "Inclusive" and effective head teachers´descriptions of their work2014In: European Journal of Special Needs Education, ISSN 0885-6257, E-ISSN 1469-591X, Vol. 29, no 1, p. 74-90Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The purpose of the reported interview study from Sweden is to contribute to our understanding of how head teachers can promote inclusive practices. Five head teachers were selected from a larger sample of head teachers working in compulsory schools (6–16) according to specific criteria in order to obtain head teachers who work effectively and express inclusive values relative to a relational perspective. The interviews were semi-structured, and a thematic analysis was performed. Head teachers’ strategies were in focus. The theoretical point of departure is critical pragmatism. Overall the five head teachers reported similar strategies. The head teachers describe the importance of educational leadership through observation and participation in activities in the classrooms. They advocate flexibility in the solutions provided for students in need of special support preferring solutions carried out in the regular classroom by the class/subject teacher. Head teachers see special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) as important partners in their work towards more inclusive practices. Head teachers express the importance of consensus among their staff. They seem to welcome government’s increasing demands and steering concerning how head teachers should manage their schools. Finally, it is discussed whether the head teachers can be said to work ‘inclusively’ and, more generally, the methodological challenges researchers must confront in studies concerning ‘inclusive’ education.

  • 22.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education and Humanities, Educational Work.
    Nilholm, Claes
    The Role of SENCOs: A Swedish Perspective with an International Outlook2011In: The ECER Conference - The European Conference on Educational Research- 2011, Berlin, 2011Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The overall aim of this study is to investigate changes within a school system when the introduction of a new occupational group, Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs), challenges established structures. Questions concerning how different occupational groups view where and in what ways SENCOs should work are studied in this paper. Three different questionnaires are used in order to analyze the present situation for SENCOs within the Swedish educational system. A number of interesting findings were distinguished. For example, several occupational groups respond that SENCOs should work with individually taught special education. Meanwhile, a pattern emerges in which SENCOs seem to partly have established a new work role. However, little is known about how these changes affect children in need of special support.

  • 23.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education.
    Nilholm, Claes
    Almqvist, Lena
    Wetso, Gun-Marie
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education.
    Different agendas? The views of different occupational groups on special needs education2011In: European Journal of Special Needs Education, ISSN 0885-6257, E-ISSN 1469-591X, Vol. 26, no 2, p. 143-157Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The purpose of the present paper is to investigate how different occupational groups explain why children have problems in school, how they believe schools should help these children and the role they believe that special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) should have in such work. A questionnaire was distributed to all teaching and support staff in a Swedish municipality (N=1297). As a result, 938 persons (72.5%) answered the questionnaire. The answers given by (a) preschool teachers (b) teacher assistants (c) SENCOs (d) special teachers (e) class teachers and (f) subject teachers were compared. Several interesting patterns emerged from the data indicating that the occupational groups to a large extent have different ideas concerning how the school should work with children in need of special support. The SENCOs were, for example, the only group that believed that they should be involved in school development. The outcome of the study is discussed in relation to the notion of inclusive education.

  • 24.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education. Uppsala Universitet.
    Rodell, Annica
    Stöd och anpassningar: Att organisera särskilda insatser2015 (ed. 1.1)Book (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 25.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education.
    Vinterek, Monika
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Educational Work.
    The world moves in to the Everyday school2019Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 26.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education.
    Vinterek, Monika
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Educational Work.
    Visualization of Ways to Work with Different Learning Areas in Preeschool2014Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of the study

    The aim was to investigate the intentional work of one preschool to create conditions for learning within seven fields 1) Joy and motivation to learn 2) Creativity 3) Self-perception 4) Responsibility and implementation 5) Thinking and analysis 6) Communication and social relations and finally 7) Empathy.

    Relationship to previous research works

    Prior research suggests that knowledge on e.g. how to take responsibility and how to collaborate has important implications for what happens later on in life. Interventions at an early age are more meaningful than later efforts (Ruhm & Waldfogel, 2012). This makes it particularly important to understand how work with this type of knowledge is conducted and promoted in preschool.

    Theoretical and conceptual framework

    This pilot-study is part of a larger research project initiated by the Swedish National Agency for Education. The seven learning areas in focus in this study are based on learning goals formulated in the Swedish curriculum. It is primarily an empirical study using a hermeneutic approach.

    Paradigm, Methodology and Methods

    Three preschool teachers and one childcare worker were observed during ten days. The learning environment and interactions between adults and children were registered. Follow-up interviews were also performed. 

    Ethical considerations

    All participants involved in the study (i.e. preschool managers, preschool personnel, legal guardians) were informed about the study and gave their written consent.

    Main findings

    Results reveal that it is possible to observe how preschool personnel work to create conditions for learning within the seven fields. 

    Implications for practice and/or policy

    A visualization of ways to work with the areas focused is assumed to increase teachers' intentional conduct and be useful in developing educational practice.

  • 27.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Educational Work. Uppsala Universitet.
    Vinterek, Monika
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Educational Work.
    Åskådliggörande av sätt att arbeta med olika lärandeområden i förskolan2015Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [sv]

    Presentationen tar sin utgångspunkt i en pilotstudie som genomfördes på en förskola i en medelstor stad i Sverige. Syftet var att med hjälp av observationer undersöka hur man i förskolan arbetar med att skapa lust och motivation samt förutsättningar för barns lärande inom kunskapsområdena: kreativitet, självuppfattning, ansvar och genomförande, tänkande och analys, kommunikation och sociala relationer samt empati. Syftet var även att undersöka möjligheten att genom observationer kunna fånga arbetet med ovan nämnda områden. I studien ingick tre förskollärare och en barnskötare som arbetade på en avdelning med 18 barn i åldrarna 3-4 år. Datainsamlingen har främst skett genom observationer under sammanlagt 10 dagar (60 timmar). Pedagogernas handlingar har registrerats genom inspelningar med diktafon samt fältanteckningar som sedan transkriberats och analyserats utifrån en hermeneutisk ansats. Intervjuer har genomförts med pedagogerna efter de tio observationsdagarna. Resultaten tyder på att det är möjligt att genom observationer fånga hur pedagoger arbetar för att skapa förutsättningar för barns lärande inom de studerade kunskapsområdena samt hur man arbetar för att skapa lust och motivation hos barnen. Vi har kategoriserat hur vi tolkar att pedagogerna gör för att skapa dessa förutsättningar: 1) ”Genom att pedagogen gör något” med underkategorierna: Förstärkande, Tillåtande, Avvaktande, Upplysande, Rolltagande, Förklarande, Konkretiserande och Närande, och 2) ”Genom att pedagogen uppmuntrar eller uppmanar barnet att göra något” med underkategorierna: Erinrande, Undersökande, Prövande, Hypotesskapande, Erfarande och Problematiserande. Ett åskådliggörande och begreppsläggande av sätt att arbeta antas kunna öka pedagogernas möjligheter att bredda sin handlingsrepertoar.

  • 28.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Educational Work.
    von Ahlefeld Nisser, Désirée
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education.
    Nes, Kari
    Fasting, Rolf
    Ström, Kristina
    Different Understandings of Inclusion: Round Table Presentation2011In: NERA´s 39th Congress - Rights and Education, Jyväskylä, Finland, 2011Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 29.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Education and Humanities, Educational Work.
    Wetso, Gun-Marie
    Dalarna University, School of Education and Humanities, Education.
    How do Teachers and Personnel in Preschool and School in a Swedish Municipality Look upon their Work with Children in Need of Special Educational Support?2009Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 30.
    Magnússon, Gunnlaugur
    et al.
    Uppsala universitet.
    Göransson, Kerstin
    Karlstads universitet.
    Lindqvist, Gunilla
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Education.
    Contextualising inclusive education in education policy: the case of Sweden2019In: Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy, ISSN 2002-0317Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this article, we regard inclusive education as a policy phenomenon that contains a range of ideas about the purpose of education, the content of education and the organization of education. As a political ideal expressed in policy, inclusive education competes with other political ideals regarding education, for instance economic discourses that prioritize effectivity and attainment as educational goals. Thus, inclusive education has to be realized in contexts where available options for action are restricted by several and often contradictory educational policies on different levels of the education system. We argue that while research and debate about inclusive education are important, both are insufficient without analyses of the context of national educational policy. Any interpretation of inclusive education is necessarily situated in a general education policy, and measures of what ‘inclusive schools’ are dependent upon for instance, political interpretation(s) of inclusive education, resource allocation and political discourse on both local and national educational level. Here, we will provide support for this argument through presentation of both research on inclusive education, an alignment of prior analyses of Swedish national education policies and our own analyses of government statements.