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Lessons learned from research on individual educational plans in Sweden: obstacles, opportunities and future challenges
Institutionen för pedagogik och specialpedagogik, Göteborgs universitet.
Institutionen för didaktik och pedagogisk professsion, Göteborgs universitet.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2013 (English)In: European Journal of Special Needs Education, ISSN 0885-6257, E-ISSN 1469-591X, Vol. 28, no 4, 413-426 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Since 1995 all Swedish compulsory schools have had a legal obligation to establish Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) for pupils with special educational needs. However, previous research shows that there are a number of issues associated with how these plans are used in schools’ overall work, and identifies a discrepancy between educational policy and practice. In this article we review previous research on authentic IEPs in Sweden to clarify issues and obstacles associated with each step of the process of working with these plans. We then problematise and critically discuss the role that IEPs have come to play in the current Swedish education system and Swedish education policy, following recent reforms. Informed by our review of previous research and the transformation of the Swedish education system during recent years, we conclude that the following issues regarding the use of IEPs require particular consideration on both policy and local school levels. Firstly, partly (at least) because guidelines for implementing IEPs are inadequate, schools appear to enact rather than implement these policy demands, without critically considering what an IEP is and how it should be used in practice. Secondly, in contrast to initial intentions, IEPs largely seem to be used primarily as administrative tools rather than to help meet the educational and developmental needs of the pupils concerned. Hence, there is a risk of IEPs being used merely for ‘fabricating’ a sanitised version of the schools’ procedures to demonstrate accountability in national quality audits and give a favourable representation of the schools. Finally, parents and pupils’ participation and involvement in developing IEPs need further exploration in schools. These issues should ideally be critically examined in future studies regarding the use of IEPs both nationally and internationally.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2013. Vol. 28, no 4, 413-426 p.
Keyword [en]
individual educational plans (IEPs), special educational needs, compulsory school, education policy, performativity, documentation
National Category
Educational Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-76216DOI: 10.1080/08856257.2013.812405ISI: 000343599600003OAI: diva2:635668
Available from: 2013-07-05 Created: 2013-07-05 Last updated: 2014-11-23Bibliographically approved

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Isaksson, Joakim
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