Särskiljande som möjlighet och utmaning : en studie om konstruktionen av den särskilda undervisningsgruppen

Sammanfattning: Aim: The focus of this thesis is on the paradox that, even though pupils in need mainly must be provided support within the framework of regular schooling, some students are placed in segregated settings to receive support. The Swedish School Act (Chapter 3 Section 11) provides opportunity for the principal to position students in special teaching groups only if there are special reasons (my italics). The interest of the thesis is therefore directed at how the special teaching group becomes comprehensible in relation to the schools’ inclusive mission, and the aim is to understand how school staff construct the special teaching group in relation to the inclusive school discourse.Method: Data has been collected through four different collections: one survey on how special teaching groups are organized in 30 Swedish municipalities, one document study involving 48 action programmes belonging to students placed in special teaching groups and two interview studies: one with a total of 15 school staff interviewed in focus groups, and one with 30 principals interviewed individually by telephone.Theoretical framework: To analyse the empirical material collected, theoretical tools inspired by Laclau and Mouffe were used (Laclau &Mouffe 2001). They assume that language can be discursively understood, and that dividing the language into different parts makes it possible to study the interrelationship between the parts. Laulaus and Mouffes theory of discourse also includes an implicit idea that discourses are created, preserved, and changed through concrete everyday practices (Laclau & Mouffe 2001).Major findings: The results show that the special teaching group acts as an informal backdoor to students who feel unwell in the regular teaching group. The measure is neither as unusual nor temporary as it purports to be. Furthermore, the analysis shows that the focus in the special teaching group is not on supporting the students to achieve the school's knowledge goals, but on the wellness of the students and their ability to work with others.School staff use (neuropsychiatric) diagnoses to understand and explain why students need support in special teaching groups, and they talk about the students as if they have a diagnosis even if they don’t. In this way, the diagnoses may contribute to students getting the support they need, while the focus on diagnoses also entails risks. The focus on individual difficulties may also lead to the uniformity instead of development of teaching in regular classrooms and diagnoses also risk obscuring the view of other possible reasons why students need support, such as the school's lack of financial resources.Implications: To work properly in schooling, the special teaching group needs transparency. Today, the discussion of why and how segregated settings are used is unclear and inadequate. This study shows that the special teaching group has an important role in supporting pupils, but not as a last resort for every problem. Segregated settings may provide the support needed, but it also risks making pupils fall behind and feel excluded from school and society. When using segregated settings schools therefore must be clear and well thought out. To make this happen school and society need to engage more in discussion on separation as both a possibility and a challenge.