2.3 Adapted education and special needs education

Under the Education Act, all education must be adapted to each pupil’s abilities and aptitudes. The principle of adapted education applies to all pupils, including those who need additional academic challenges.

Pupils who do not benefit sufficiently from ordinary education are entitled to special needs education. Subject to a professional assessment, the school should decide whether an individual pupil is entitled to special needs education or not. The decision should specify which type of special educational needs support the pupil is entitled to.

Fewer pupils receive special needs education

In 2015, 7.9 per cent of Norwegian pupils were subject to an individual decision about special educational needs provision. This is just under 50,000 pupils. Almost half of pupils receiving special needs education have been granted more than 7 hours per week. 68 per cent of pupils receiving special needs education are boys. This figure has remained relatively stable over time.

17.7 per cent of all teaching hours were spent on special needs education in the 2015-16 school year – an increase of 14.6 per cent since 2005. The figure has remained relatively stable since 2011-12.

Almost three times as many pupils receive special needs education in Year 10 as in Year 1

The per cent of pupils receiving special needs education increases as the pupils get older. 3.8 per cent of Year 1 pupils receive special needs education, while in Year 10 the figure is 10.6 per cent, i.e. almost three times higher. One reason for this increase could be that academic demands intensify as pupils get older.

Figure 2.5 Pupils in primary and lower secondary education with an individual decision on special needs education. 2006- 2015. Per cent.


Source: Directorate for Education and Training

More pupils receive special needs education in ordinary classes

Special needs education should be provided within the pupil’s ordinary class insofar as it is possible and sufficient. 35 per cent primarily school pupils receive special needs education in ordinary classes. The remainder receive most of their special needs education in groups or alone. This represents a significant increase since 2013- 14, when 28 per cent received special needs education within their ordinary class.

Almost 4,000 pupils attend dedicated special needs schools or schools with a dedicated, permanent special needs unit. A further 1,700 pupils are on placements in alternative learning environments for one day or more every week with timetables including activities such as outdoor pursuits, farm work or car mechanics.