7.5 Special needs education in upper secondary

Pupils and training candidates in upper secondary education and training who do not benefit sufficiently from ordinary tuition are entitled to special needs education in the same way as pupils at the primary and lower secondary stages. This entitlement does not apply to apprentices, however.

Pupils may access special needs provision within ordinary study programmes, within an adapted or alternative study programme in school, or in workplace training.

We can divide special needs pupils in upper secondary into two groups. One group consists of pupils aiming to obtain full qualifications and an ordinary diploma. The other group receives special needs education with a view to obtaining a lower level qualification – a so-called planned basic qualification. The Education Act refers to basic qualifications as any form of education or training that does not lead to full university or college admissions certification or to a full vocational qualification. Basic qualifications are documented in the form of a training certificate and may be planned or unplanned.

Enrolment of pupils with extensive special needs in upper secondary education and training

The provisions on enrolment in upper secondary education and training contained in the Regulations to the Education Act were amended in autumn 2013. They reintroduce the concept of preferential consideration of applicants with extensive special needs in cases where pursuing a particular study programme is critical to a pupil’s chances of completing upper secondary education or training.

In addition to preferential consideration for specific study programmes, priority is also given to applicants with severely reduced functional ability, applicants entitled to tuition in or via sign language, and applicants who have been granted additional time to complete their studies.

Applicant figures for upper secondary education and training in the 2014/15 academic year show that just over 4,200 applicants (2 percent) have applied for a specific study programme.

The programme for restaurant management and food processing and the programme for agriculture, fishing and forestry are the two study programmes with the highest proportion of applicants for a specific study programme.

Figure 7.11 Applicants for a specific study programme. As at 1 March 2014. Percentage

Source: The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training

The extent of special needs provision in upper secondary education and training

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training conducted a survey in spring 2012 asking the sector how many pupils were subject to individual decisions on special needs education. (Spørsmål til Skole-Norge, spring 2012). The replies showed that the proportion of pupils receiving special needs education ranged from 3.7 percent to 11.5 percent in different counties, with a national average of 6 percent. The percentage of pupils receiving special needs education thus seems to be lower in upper secondary than in primary and lower secondary school. Based on these figures, we can assume that almost 12,000 upper secondary pupils receive special needs education. This figure includes both pupils who aim to acquire a complete qualification, and pupils aiming to obtain a planned basic qualification.

A survey of pupils with functional disabilities in upper secondary education and training (Gjertsen and Olsen 2013) found that there are almost 11,000 pupils with reduced functional ability in upper secondary education and training and that 2,800 of them have developmental disabilities.

2.8 percent aim to obtain a basic qualification

A basic qualification is a qualification at a lower level than a full vocational qualification or university and college admissions certification. The pupil or training candidate receives training that is based around those subjects, or parts of subjects, that she or he is able to master. Some pupils make significant departures from the curriculum in all or most subjects, while for others it is a case of minor deviations from the ordinary curricula.

When completing their education or training, the pupils or training candidates are awarded a training certificate describing in which aspects of the subjects they have acquired skills.

Just under 6,800 participants in upper secondary education or training had obtained a planned basic qualification as at 1 October 2013. 5,000 of them were pupils, and just under 1,800 were training candidates. In the country as a whole, 2.8 percent were studying for a basic qualification. This percentage varies from 1 to 5 percent across counties and is highest on the programme for restaurant management and food processing (12.2 percent) and the programme for agriculture, fishing and forestry (8.1 percent). The largest study programmes still have the highest number of people registered as studying for a planned basic qualification. On the programme for specialisation in general studies this involves 1,327 people, and on the programme for healthcare, childhood and youth development 1,030 people.

Figure 7.12 Pupils registered with planned basic qualifications – by county. As at 1 October 2013. Preliminary figures. Percentage.

Source: The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training

Organising special needs provision in upper secondary education and training

Of the 5,000 or so pupils studying for a planned basic qualification as at 1 October 2013, the majority (3,700 pupils) were given tuition in separate groups outside ordinary classes, a number that has remained stable over the last three years.

Of the 3,700 pupils registered as receiving tuition in separate groups, just under 2,100 have extensive special needs. These pupils often study in very small groups, and some of them have such severe special needs that they receive individual instruction by a teacher for some of the time.

In their survey of pupils with functional disabilities in upper secondary education and training Gjertsen and Olsen (2013) found that special needs education is largely provided outside ordinary classes, depending slightly on the type of disability. This is particularly true for pupils with severe mental and physical disabilities (multiple disabilities). For pupils with motor, visual and hearing impairments it is more common to provide tuition with additional support within ordinary classes.

Figure 7.13 People registered with planned basic qualifications – by study programme. As at 1 October 2013. Preliminary figures. Percentage.

Source: The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training

Training candidates

The main difference between an apprentice and a training candidate is the ultimate objective of the training. An apprentice must meet all the attainment targets in the curriculum, while a training candidate must reach some of the targets. There are sometimes significant variations in the degree to which training candidates are in a position to reach the attainment targets. It is also possible to convert a training candidate contract into an apprenticeship contract, and vice versa, during the study programme.

A training candidate will enter into a contract with a training establishment and sit an attainment test. This is a less extensive test than the apprenticeship and journeyman’s examinations.

In 2013, there were just under 1,300 registered training candidates, an increase of 150 on the previous year. The greatest increase was on the programme for building and construction and the programme for services and transport.

The largest number of training candidates (350) enrolled on the programme for healthcare, childhood and youth development, and on the programme for building and construction. The programme for technical and industrial production and the programme for services and transport also had more than 300 registered training candidates in 2013.

There are considerable differences between counties as to the proportion of training candidates among the total number of training candidates and apprentices, varying from 1.1 percent in Oslo to 13.9 percent in Østfold (Figure 7.15). Some counties thus seem to use the training candidate scheme more actively than others, something reflected in the number of subsidy applications for apprentices and training candidates with special needs from individual counties.

Figure 7.14 Training candidates – by study programme. As at 1 October 2012 and 2013. Numbers.

Source: The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training

Figure 7.15 Proportion of training candidates among the total number of apprentices and training candidates – by county. As at 1 October 2013. Percentage.

Source: The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training

Table 7.2 Subsidy applications for apprentices and training candidates with special needs. 2011–2013. Numbers.

Year Total Apprentices Training candidates
2013 551 214 337
2012 528 194 334
2011 326 122 204

 

Source: The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training

Increase in the number of subsidy applications for apprentices and training candidates with special needs

A dedicated subsidy scheme has been put in place to encourage training establishments to offer apprentices and training candidates with special needs the opportunity to obtain a vocational qualification. The number of applications has risen in recent years, especially applications concerning training candidates. 551 applications were received in 2013, and subsidy applications for training candidates accounted for 61 percent of these applications. There are significant variations between counties. One county submitted only one application, while the most active county submitted 92 applications.

Around half of the applications concerned apprentices and training candidates on the programmes for technical and industrial production and healthcare, childhood and youth Development.