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Rektor i kläm mellan uppdrag och förutsättningar: specialpedagogisk verksamhet i svenska glesbygdsskolor
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. (Arcum)
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2017 (Swedish)In: Nordisk tidskrift för allmän didaktik, ISSN 2002-1534, Vol. 3, no 1, p. 23-42Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There are most likely considerable differences between running schools in rural areas and in big cities. Research has not paid attention to these differences and therefore, there is a lack of knowledge about running schools in rural areas in Sweden. The purpose of this study has been to describe and analyse how principal in schools in rural areas organize their activities, with a focus on special education. The study includes answers from 45 principals in a web survey. These principals represented the four northernmost counties of Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Västernorrland and Jämtland in Sweden. In this study, a school in a rural area is defined as a school of 55 students at the most. The principals represent 53 schools in rural areas, with some principals working in more than one school in these areas. The results show that more than half of the principals govern their schools by distance and seem to be very familiar with the steering documents regarding special education. The results also show that more than half of the principals considered that students’ needs for special support depend mainly on individual student-related factors rather than factors related to the learning environment. However, more than half of the principals emphasized the relevance of the learning environment for the students’ development of knowledge and the importance of flexible ways of working. Overall, the results show how complex the situation of conditions and requirements is for the everyday life for the principals as they strive for equivalent schools.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 3, no 1, p. 23-42
Keywords [en]
Rural areas, Principal, Organization, Special education, Steering documents
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-130597OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-130597DiVA, id: diva2:1068472
Available from: 2017-01-25 Created: 2017-01-25 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Inre kraft och yttre tryck: perspektiv på specialpedagogisk verksamhet i glesbygdsskolor
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Inre kraft och yttre tryck: perspektiv på specialpedagogisk verksamhet i glesbygdsskolor
2017 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Inner power and outer pressure : perspectives on special needs education in rural schools
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this doctoral thesis is to increase knowledge and understanding of special needs education in rural schools. More specifically, the purpose of this thesis is to examine and analyse the enabling and constraining conditions in special needs education for the mission of class teachers', principals' and special educators'. To fulfil this purpose, the following research question is posed: What are the enabling and constraining conditions for special needs education and its organisation, and what meanings are given to special needs education in rural schools? In order to meet this aim four studies were conducted in a total of 58, mainly Swedish rural schools. The schools were spread out geographically and represented both public and independent rural schools. The empirical data consists of interviews, observations and questionnaires. The method of analysis was mainly qualitative content analysis. Descriptive statistics were also used. The first study (Article 1) examines class teachers' conditions for supporting pupils with special educational needs in seven rural schools in Sweden, Norway and Finland. The main results of the interview study are summarized into four themes; relationship, collaboration, distance and concern. The second study (Article II) investigates how principals in rural Swedish schools organize special needs education. A web questionnaire was answered by 45 principals. The results show that the principals balance between an individual approach to special needs and a flexible way of organizing special needs education. The third study (Article III) examines how special educators' expertise in educational consultation is utilized in order to support professional development of class teachers who work in rural schools with diverse pupil groups. Three authentic consultation sessions were observed and analysed. The results show that consultation as a support strategy enables the class teachers to support pupils with special educational needs and strengthens professional collaboration between special educators and class teachers. The fourth study (Article IV) investigates what meanings educators working as principals in independent rural schools attach to special needs education. The data collection instrument was a questionnaire with open-ended questions. According to the principals' special needs education is an activity aimed at supporting all pupils' learning and development. The results also show that the independent schools have strong ties to the surrounding community. The thematic analysis of the four studies displays two main concepts; inner force and outer pressure. These concepts illustrate the enabling as well as the constraining conditions for special needs education in rural schools. The inner force stems from relationships, familiar atmosphere, the possibilities to meet all pupils' needs, collaboration and flexible ways of organizing the educational activities, while the outer pressure stems from threats of school closure, lack of resources and unappreciative municipal authorities. Despite the constraining conditions, which make the rural school vulnerable, the enabling conditions seem to dominate, making the rural school an inclusive learning environment able to meet all pupils' diverse learning needs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2017. p. 115
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 0281-6768
Keywords
rural school, special needs education, multi-grade teaching, perspective, inclusion
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-130601 (URN)978-91-7601-649-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-02-17, Humanisthuset, Hörsal G, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-01-27 Created: 2017-01-26 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved

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Pettersson, GerdNäsström, Gunilla

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Citation style
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