Consultation in special needs education in Sweden and Finland: A comparative approach

Year: 2014

Author: Désirée, von Ahlefeld Nisser, Christel, Sundqvist, Kristina, Ström

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper compares the conditions and implementation of special education professionals' consulting task in Sweden and Finland. The paper first describes the background of the consulting teacher role and special education in Sweden and in Finland. Two different perspectives in the continuum on consultation are presented, followed by a description of how the consulting task is implemented and described in educational policy papers, and in research in the two countries. The analysis shows that while there are differences between the implementation of the consulting task in Sweden and Finland, there are also several similarities regarding the challenges faced. Differences can be understood according to traditions, education, and educational policy papers. The similarities shows that the consulting task must be clearly defined in policy documents, highlighted in education, and understood as a complex activity where both advice and reflection strategies are used. The consulting task can be more successful if the consultation is characterized by collaborative dialogues where the classroom teachers' knowledge and the context are also taken in account.