Characteristics of independent schools directed at students in need of special support: a study of school website presentation

Lotta Anderson, Gunvie Möllås, Lisbeth Ohlsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of the research was to explore how 55 Swedish independent schools, directed at (or limited to) students in need of special support (SNSS), describe their organisation, work and visions. The empirical data of the research consisted of the schools’ website presentations, which were processed and analysed in consecutive steps. The results showed that the students’ complicated school- and life situations were often combined with disabilities mainly in the neuropsychiatric field. The majority of the schools (76%) practiced both schooling and methods for treatment and care, differentiating their role from the mainstream track. Neuropsychiatric and psychological perspectives had a significant influence, reflected in how the schools describe their daily routines, therapeutic methods of treatment and access to specific categories of staff. Small groups, individual instruction and competent staff were described as specific features. Teaching content and didactic aspects were seldom highlighted. The focus on the websites was on socialisation and subjectification while qualification, i.e. knowledge development, had a more limited role. The study points to a need for further research exploring daily pedagogical practice in more depth and calls for a greater focus on student perspectives. Consequences for learning contexts are discussed in the concluding part of the article. The specialist role, the independent schools in the present study tended to take on are most urgent issues to discuss in an educational context striving for equity and inclusive learning environments. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-337
Number of pages20
JournalProblems of Education in the 21st Century
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Pedagogy (50301)


  • Inclusive education
  • Independent schools
  • Students in need of special support
  • Treatment methods
  • Website presentation


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