In the last 12 years, the number of schoolchildren in secondary school, or high school, considered to have special educational needs has increased by 89%. At the same time, the number in the compulsory special needs school at the lower level has risen by 71%, said Dagens Nyheter.
One explanation, according to the National Agency for Education, is that many pupils with a foreign background speak such poor Swedish that it is misinterpreted as a lack of ability. And children from countries ravaged by war could have had such shocking experiences that they are remain withdrawn.
Another reason for the increase could be that more children born prematurely survive, but with injuries which mean that they need special attention in school.
In order for a child to be placed in a special needs school, it needs to be established that he or she is unable to reach the standards required by the regular school. Other criteria which can lead to a placement in a special school are autism or development disorders.
“When we have been carrying out our inspections we have seen that there are municipalities which do not test children properly,” said Carin Holtz, an educational advisor at the National Agency for Education.
Holtz said that there has still been no research which can explain with any certainty the reasons for the increase.