Educational pathways and transitions in the early school years : Special educational needs, support provisions and inclusive education

Sammanfattning: The overall aim of this research is to describe and analyse the educational pathways from preschool to school of a group of children with and without special educational needs. The aim is also to describe and analyse children’s views and experiences of early years education, and how these can be obtained.The research comprises six studies that are presented in four articles and two conference papers. Longitudinal and multiple-case study designs, and mixed method approaches are adopted in the empirical studies, and the data is collected via observations, a questionnaire, documents, conversations and interviews with staff, children’s drawings and interviews with children.The results from the empirical studies show a variation of pathways to compulsory education; changes in activities and relationships in the transitions; a variation in preschool quality; a broad conceptualising of special educational needs; an application of comprehensive or specialised typologies in the educational settings; an undecided and cautious attitude toward inclusive education; an allocation of generous resources to specialised and segregated programmes; and a diversity of support provisions. The children report more positive than negative experiences of their early school years and pinpoint the importance of having a sense of belonging among peers; opportunities for creative play and thinking; experiences of speed, excitement and physical challenges; elements of cosiness, withdrawals and comfort for recreation; experiences of growth in knowledge and understanding of the world; feeling safe; feeling free and autonomous; and preventing homesickness in order to thrive.The results of the literature review are that the researchers may obtain data from children with and without special educational needs by means of traditional and innovative data collection methods. For broadening participation and sharing of views, the researchers may offer relational and material support.The thesis has relevance for researchers in the field of special education, inclusive education and early childhood education and care. It has also relevance for teacher training, policy makers and stakeholders, school heads, teachers and families.