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Increasing Number of Students in Elementary Special Schools in Sweden

The proportion of primary school students attending primary special schools in Sweden has increased over the past five years. From having been 1 percent of the total number of students for several years, the percentage is now 1.4 percent.

But there is no clear answer to what the increase is due to, according to Daniel Östlund, pedagogy professor at Kristianstad University. According to Östlund, the increase can be connected to a number of different factors, but he highlights the deteriorating economic situation as a possible reason.

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In Gothenburg, the number of children in the municipally run elementary special school has increased from 570 students in 2018/2019, to 919 students this year, which is an increase of 61 percent. The proportion of primary special school students who are placed in municipal schools in Gothenburg is 1.9 percent.

Daniel Östlund believes that the special school can become a way for the regular school to transfer part of the cost to students in the primary special school, and draws parallels to the financial crisis of the 90s when a similar trend could be sensed within the primary special school.

At the same time, there are differences between municipalities when it comes to the percentage of people who are admitted to elementary special schools. In a report from the city audit, the municipality of Gothenburg has received criticism for extensive and serious deficiencies in the elementary special school, as a result of, among other things, a shortage of teachers.

What do you think about the large increase in the number of elementary special school students in Gothenburg? Why then is the proportion of pupils in primary special schools greater in some municipalities than others? Daniel Östlund mentions a study from about 15 years ago where you could see tendencies that municipalities carried out the investigations in different ways which could explain the difference.

He also raises the problem of individuals who are placed in elementary special schools on the wrong basis, because a student who has attended elementary special schools and upper secondary special schools does not receive authorization for further studies at university.

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