Complete national overview - Iceland
Inclusive education – Education for All – is the guiding policy for the national education system in Iceland from early years to the transition period. This means addressing and responding to the learning needs of all pupils without treating or defining pupils in need of special support any differently from other pupils. In accordance with this, there is no separate legislation for special education at any of the four levels of education in Iceland. In short Education for All means that:
There is equal opportunity for all to attend school and acquire education in accordance with their ability and needs.
Schools must attend to the ability and needs of all pupils.
Pupils and/or their parents decide on which school they attend.
Pupils in need of special support have the right to special provision.
In the school system preschool is considered to be the first education level. A key element of the system is coherence from preschool level to upper secondary school level. New Acts that amongst others strengthen this coherence were agreed for those educational levels in 2008, that is the Preschool, Compulsory School, Upper Secondary School and Higher Education Act. In addition a number of implementing Regulations have been issued providing for various policy details. The Icelandic government has also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Child (1992) and adopted the Salamanca Declaration (Salamanca 1994) and the Education for All Declaration (Dakar 2000).
There is a separate legislation on the affairs of the handicapped (1992) that stipulates that all individuals with handicap (defined as mental retardation, psychiatric illness, physical disability, blindness and/or deafness as well as handicaps resulting from chronic illness and accidents) shall be helped to live and function in a normal community along with other people. For this purpose, where a handicapped person's needs are not covered by general services within the fields of education, health and social services, special services, detailed in the law, shall be provided.
The Preschool Act (2008) can be found at http://eng.menntamalaraduneyti.is/media/MRN-pdf/Preschool_Act.pdf
The Compulsory Act (2008) can be found at http://eng.menntamalaraduneyti.is/media/MRN-PDF-Althjodlegt/Compulsory_school_Act.pdf
The Upper Secondary School Act (2008) can be found at http://eng.menntamalaraduneyti.is/media/MRN-PDF-Althjodlegt/Upper_secondary_school_Act.pdf
Act on the affairs of people with disabilties (1992) can be found at http://eng.felagsmalaraduneyti.is/legislation/nr/3704
UN Convention on the Rights of Child in Icelandic can be found at http://www.barnaheill.is/content/blogcategory/20/40/
Education for all Declaration (Dakar) can be found at http://bella.mrn.stjr.is/utgafur/Dakarskyrslensk.pdf
The Salamanca Declaration can be found at http://www.menntamalaraduneyti.is/utgefid-efni/utgefin-rit-og-skyrslur/HTMLrit/nr/2123
The Education for All policy places emphasis on the National Curriculum Guides for preschool (2003), compulsory school (2007) and upper secondary school (2004). The Curriculum Guidelines assures conformity of goals for all three levels of schooling. In drawing up the National Curriculum Guidelines, in the organisation of study, and in producing and selecting study materials, special effort was made to ensure that the opportunities for study accessible to all pupils are as equal as possible.
The objectives of study and instruction, and the working practices of preschool, compulsory schools and upper secondary schools are such as to prevent discrimination on the basis of origin, gender, residence, class, religion or handicap. All school activities take into account the varied personality, maturity, talent, ability and interests of pupils.
The National Curriculum Guidelines for preschools emphasise that the pre-schools must show consideration for the needs of each individual child, to ensure that they can reach their potential in a peer group on their own terms. Special consideration must be shown to children handicapped in any way or who have emotional and/or social difficulties. The child needs to be provided with special assistance to compensate for the limitations that their handicap imposes on them. The same applies to a child who is deaf or has a hearing disability, a blind child or one that is visually impaired. The National Curriculum also emphasises that the preschool will help children from other cultures to become active participants in their new society without losing their connections with their own culture, language and faith.
The new National Curriculum Guidelines for compulsory schools emphasise instruction in the fields of information and technology, which include, among other things, a special course in computer use, information technology, innovation, and technology. Familiarity with computers and computer use may now be considered important prerequisites for success in education and on the job, in addition to which use of this newer technology increases pupil interest in studying and the possibility for self-instruction. Computer technology can also be beneficial with certain groups who are weak in certain areas or who have difficulties. All pupils will now be given the opportunity to achieve the lowest limit of ability in the use and handling of computers, data acquisition, processing and presenting information, and also practise in various skill factors such as word processing.
A National Curriculum Guide for special units in upper secondary schools was published in the year 2005. The special units have special curriculum guidelines to meet the needs of disabled pupils. The programme offered by these units has three different levels depending on the needs of different pupils and lasts four years.
According to the Preschool Act, Compulsory School Act and Upper Secondary School Act, the staff of each school is obliged to write a working guide which is to be based on the National Curriculum Guidelines, but gives each school an opportunity to take into account its circumstances and special characteristics. The school working guide is to be an administrative plan for each school. It is to account for the school year and to include an annual calendar, the organisation of teaching, the aims and content of the education offered, pupil assessment procedures, assessment of the work that goes on in the school, extra-curricular activities and other aspects of the operation of the school including how it is going to meet pupils with special needs.
Curriculum in English for the preschool level can be found at http://bella.mrn.stjr.is/utgafur/leikskensk.pdf
Curriculum in English for the compulsory school level general section can be found at http://bella.mrn.stjr.is/utgafur/general.pdf and the life skills section of the Curriculum can be found at http://bella.mrn.stjr.is/utgafur/compuls.pdf
Curriculum in English for the upper secondary school level general section can be found at: http://bella.mrn.stjr.is/utgafur/almhluti_frhsk_enska.pdf and the life skills section of the Curriculum can be found at http://bella.mrn.stjr.is/utgafur/upper.pdf
A National Curriculum Guide for special units in upper secondary schools in Icelandic can be found at http://bella.mrn.stjr.is/utgafur/starfsbrautir2005.pdf
According to the law on pre-schools, from 2008 pre-school age children who, because of their handicap or because of emotional or social difficulties, need specialist assistance or training are provided with such support, according to certain rules, in their own pre-school. All pupils are given regular check-ups to monitor their health and development.
Chapter 8 in the law deals with the right of pre-school children to specialist assistance, training and counselling service. Article 22 specifies that pupils who, due to disabilities or emotional or social difficulties, need specialist assistance and training, shall have the right to receive these in the pre schools under the guidance of specialists. Pre schools shall also be designed and run in such a way as to be able to cater for disabled children.
The pre-school specialist services provide parents of the children at the schools, and the staff of the pre-schools, with the necessary counselling and services in accordance with the further provisions of the regulations on the scope of the service. The Pre Schools' Specialist Service may be operated jointly with the Compulsory Schools' Specialist Service.
See the law in English at: http://eng.menntamalaraduneyti.is/media/MRN-pdf/Preschool_Act.pdf
The most important legislation which affects the provision of special education is the law concerning compulsory education from 2008. The law stipulates ten years of compulsory schooling for children and adolescents between the ages of six and sixteen. The term special education is, however, nowhere to be found in the law. The ideology is that the compulsory ‘basic school’ shall be inclusive, catering for SEN as well as other educational needs of its pupils. Since 1 August 1996, all compulsory schools, including special schools and units, have been run by local municipalities.
One article of the law (article 17) specifies that children and adolescents who need special education because of specific learning difficulties or because they have emotional or social problems and/or are handicapped, have a right to special support in instruction in their studies. The main policy is that such instruction should take place in their local home school. If a pupil's parents or guardians, teachers or other specialists feel that the pupil is not receiving suitable instruction in its home school, the parents or guardians may apply for the pupil to attend a special school. The instruction can be on a one-to-one basis or take place in a group within or outside the mainstream classroom, in special departments within schools or in special schools.
A regulation (no. 386/1996) for special education is based on the law. The regulation for special education in compulsory education is the only regulation for this purpose at the four school levels. It deals with all special needs teaching at the compulsory school level. According to this regulation, special education involves changes of educational aims, curricular content and teaching context and/or methods as compared with what other pupils of the same age are offered. Special education is organised on a short- or long-term basis depending on the needs of the pupils, possibly lasting his or her entire schooling. The municipalities are obliged to ensure access to a special school or a special unit for those pupils whose disabilities make it impossible for them to take advantage of educational facilities in their local school.
The municipalities are also obliged to offer education for children who are in hospitals or are sick for a long period.
See the law in English at: http://eng.menntamalaraduneyti.is/media/MRN-PDF-Althjodlegt/Compulsory_school_Act.pdf
Upper Secondary School
According to the law of 2008 on upper secondary schools everyone is entitled to education at upper secondary school level. Handicapped pupils (as defined in the law on the affairs of the handicapped) are to be provided with instruction and special support in their studies. Specialist advice and suitable conditions are to be ensured. In their studies handicapped pupils are to follow the mainstream curriculum with other pupils as far as possible. The law also provides for the possibility of establishing special units within upper secondary schools for handicapped pupils.
The law on upper secondary school stipulates that deaf pupils have the right to special instruction in the Icelandic sign language.
See the law in English at: http://eng.menntamalaraduneyti.is/Acts/
As with the other school levels there is no law that deals with special needs or handicapped students in higher education. There is, however, a regulation dealing with this at the University of Iceland (No. 497/2002). At the university students can apply for special study circumstances and special examination procedures, which the university provides through its Counselling Service
Pre-school is financed by the municipalities but they may determine fee collection for a child’s pre-school attendance, but the fee collected for each child may not exceed the average real cost incurred by each child’s attendance in pre-schools operated by the municipality. There are no separate funds for special education.
Compulsory schooling, including books, course supplies and study trips, is free of charge. Funds are provided by central government to municipalities to meet the needs of handicapped pupils within compulsory school age. The following two conditions apply to payments to the municipalities:
- that the pupil in question is a legal resident of the municipality and his/her handicaps have been diagnosed;
- that, when the handicap falls within the frame of reference of the Municipalities Equalisation Fund, there is a need for special assistance.
Payments to the municipalities for handicapped pupils depend on levels of disability. The same amount is expected to be paid per pupil with the same degree of disability irrespective of whether the special education provided varies from one municipality to another.
The Advisory Committee of the Municipalities Equalisation Fund has set the working rules for deciding the degree of disability in accordance with its type. The type of disability that falls below a defined level should rely on special assistance in the form of a payment to the local authority. The amount allocated to local authorities from the Equalisation Fund for each individual pupil is meant to provide an educational opportunity for the individual pupil. This amount differs according to medical diagnoses and is in accordance with the amount the individual and his/her family gets from the national security system because of a given disability as described in the Act on the Affairs of the Handicapped from 1992. The State Diagnostic Centre has the final say in whether the amount suggested by other specialists is in accordance with the given handicap.
When the local authorities make their annual budget they set aside an amount to finance special educational provisions within the municipality. The local authorities can either provide an educational opportunity in the pupil's school or use the money to buy services in another school in the local community or in another community. This could include a special class or a special school. Communities can share the running of a special class or a special school and to do so local authorities set aside extra money.
The time allocated to special needs education for each local authority is calculated as follows: a minimum of 0.25 teaching hours per pupil for the first 1,700 pupils in the community and 0.23 teaching hour per pupil after that. This amount is to finance SEN within mainstream classes or in special classes.
In each community the local authority, with the help of head teachers, specialist services, school doctor and other relevant parties assess whether there are pupils in the community who, because of handicap or for other reasons, are in need of special education. Within each school the head teacher in co-operation with the class teachers evaluate whether there are pupils who need special education. The head teacher submits his special educational plan to the local authority. After the local authority has allocated the amount to be used for special education, each school makes an education plan for an individual, a group or a special class. The plan includes teaching, materials and assistants.
Upper secondary school
The state treasury pays upper secondary school operating costs. In the upper secondary schools pupils do not have to pay school fees but they do pay for course supplies and a part of the cost of materials.
Funds for educating pupils in need of special support are applied for to the Ministry of Education on an individual and/or group basis.
Funding for supporting students with special needs at university level is provided on an individual basis by the universities themselves from their total budget. There has been a huge increase in the number of students needing special support at university level over the last years.
Identification of special educational needs
Early years education
Most children with severe disabilities are identified at pre-school age (0–5 years of age) by medical personnel, health visitors or pre-school teachers. They are then generally referred to the State Diagnostic and Advisory Centre for a medical examination, psychological assessment and evaluation by social workers as well as physical and occupational therapists. The Icelandic Low Vision and Rehabilitation Centre, which is a central agency monitoring all blind and visually impaired persons in the country, is responsible for the diagnosis of blind and visually impaired children. A corresponding facility, the National Hearing and Speech Centre, exists for deaf and hearing impaired children and adults. Children and adolescents with serious emotional and psychiatric problems are referred to the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit of the National Hospital for diagnosis and treatment.
Children with suspected disabilities at pre-school can be referred by pre-school teachers for diagnosis to the specialist services operated by social departments of the municipalities.
The law concerning compulsory education underlines the right of every child to receive appropriate education in a school nearest to his or her home. However, parents have the right to apply for a special school for their child should the mainstream school fail to provide education suited to his or her needs.
Decisions as to who is eligible for education at a segregated facility are, in the case of pupils at the compulsory level, reached in consultation between head teachers and their special educators, parents and local specialist services or other specialists. At the compulsory level special educators and guidance counsellors located in schools provide counselling to their fellow teachers and parents. Pupils can also be referred by teachers and parents to the compulsory school specialist services of the local municipalities. In addition the law provides for the establishment of a so-called pupil protection committee in each school for the purpose of improving the collaboration of professionals dealing with individual pupils with special needs. These can include head of school, school guidance counsellors and professionals from health services and local education offices.
Upper secondary school
No specialist service is operated for the upper secondary schools on an area basis, but guidance counsellors employed by the schools deal with learning and personal problems presented by individual pupils. For more complicated matters they direct pupils to specialised evaluation and services outside the school.
Any diagnosis conducted at one school is not automatically transferred to the next and it is the parents who decide what is in the best interests of the pupil concerning that issue.
At university level, guidance counsellors diagnose and help individual students asking for assistance. At the University of Iceland, the counselling centre, run by guidance counsellors, also seeks to gain overview of the number and kinds of disabilities among the student body.
Special needs education within the education system
The educational system in Iceland is fully described in English at the Ministry of Education’s website: http://bella.mrn.stjr.is/utgafur/skolenska.pdf
Information can also be found in English on the Eurydice website: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/Eurydice/ByCountryResults?countryCode=IC
Education is divided into four levels:
- pre-school (leikskóli) up to 6 years of age.
- compulsory (primary and lower secondary in a single structure – grunnskóli) 6–16 years of age.
- upper secondary (framhaldsskóli) 16–20 years of age.
- higher education level (háskóli) from 20 years of age.
Instruction in all four educational levels comes under the Ministry of Education. The majority of the schools are public and most of the few private schools receive support from public funds.
The lower secondary classes are often characterised by mixed ability groups. It is common, however, at this level to divide the pupils into groups according to their ability in individual core subjects. Pupils can then choose between groups progressing at different speeds through the same course material in a particular subject. Those who are more industrious can progress more quickly and those who find it difficult can proceed more slowly and receive more instruction. In a few schools pupils who apply themselves well in these courses can be allowed to take a specific credit unit in an upper secondary school. In this way there is co-operation between compulsory and upper secondary schools.
The lower secondary classes in compulsory schools emphasise special instruction to meet the needs of most pupils. Special instruction is carried out either as support for certain pupils or in the form of special departments. There is also increasing emphasis on educational and vocational counselling. Recent immigrants receive special instruction in Icelandic, both at the compulsory and upper secondary levels, in addition to some provision for instruction in their native language.
All those who have completed compulsory schooling or who have attained the age of 16 have the right to begin studying at the upper secondary level. An increasing percentage of those who complete compulsory schooling continue their studies at the upper secondary level; during the last decade this increase has amounted from ca. 80% to ca. 93% of each year class. The number dropping out in upper secondary school, especially for the first year, is considerable. In recent years several ways have been sought to reduce the drop-out rate, among other things with strengthened educational counselling and more varied course offerings.
The Ministry of Education and the upper secondary schools have done a great deal in recent years to meet the needs of all the pupils, not least those who cannot cope with traditional upper secondary studies; this is in accordance with the law and regulations as well as official policy, which emphasises offering courses to match everyone's abilities. This instruction is especially intended as preparation for upper secondary school studies and for pupils with very poor preparation for enrolment in upper secondary school programmes.
In mainstream classes at upper secondary schools, pupils with disabilities are assisted with their studies, by for example sign language interpreters, co-pupils acting as scribes or other assistants, but in other respects they are subject to the same rules as other pupils.
Special education is arranged in different ways:
- With special assistance within his/her mainstream class in his/her home school. The pupil remains in his/her class in his/her home school with extra resources organised in the form of extra teaching in different subjects, reading, mathematics or in the form of ADL assistance.
- With exchange hours within the class. The pupil receives special education in the same subjects as the other pupils but in a different way within the classroom.
- With individual instruction outside his/her mainstream class or in special groups (part time or full time). The pupil is part time in his/her home class and part time in a special class.
- In a special class within a mainstream school or in a special school. Also, the pupil can be moved to another mainstream school in the same community. The pupil is in a special class within the mainstream school or in a special school.
- Elsewhere if that is the most appropriate provision, at home or in an institution.
Special classes exist for pupils with autism, visual handicap and temporary classes for pupils with mild mental retardation and behavioural difficulties. The Association in Aid of the Mentally Retarded operates a day-care centre for the handicapped (0–20 year olds). The emphasis here is on work training.
At the pre-school level all disabled children are accommodated in regular pre-schools, some of which have specialised in meeting certain kinds of disabilities in special units.
Many compulsory schools accept pupils with disabilities into their mainstream curriculum, including pupils with severe mental and multiple handicaps. There are, however, some special schools at the compulsory school level and special classes/departments and some special units within local schools.
Children are classified according to their primary handicap (deafness, blindness, physical handicap, mental and multiple handicap and socio-emotional/ psychiatric problems). Within the larger schools and units, they are grouped roughly by age, but in smaller schools they are taught together irrespective of age. The size of the groups range from individual teaching to a maximum of approximately ten pupils, the average being between four to six. Most pupils in special units located in mainstream schools are included for part of the time in regular classes and this makes the sizes and composition of the groups variable during the day. There are six segregated special schools that serve pupils with disabilities in the compulsory school age phase. These are: a school for mentally handicapped pupils, a school for children with psychiatric disabilities, two schools for adolescents with socio-emotional difficulties and two schools for children with mental handicap and multiple disabilities. None of the above-mentioned schools offers boarding facilities.
These schools, like all other compulsory schools, were, by 1 August 1996, transferred from the state to the municipalities.
In addition to the above-mentioned special schools, there are six special units within local schools that have the same role as the schools: three for autistic children, one for the blind, one for the motor impaired and one for children with mental handicap and multiple disabilities. All these units are located in mainstream schools and the pupils are included in regular classes’ part of the time.
In some schools there are special units for children with some SEN set up as a temporary solution. Pupils in these units are usually in close contact with the mainstream classes.
The Regulation for special education (no. 389/1996) in compulsory school can be found in Icelandic at: http://www.menntamalaraduneyti.is/log-og-reglugerdir/
Policy for special education in Reykjavik
Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is by far the largest municipality in Iceland with a population of about 120,000 (approximately four times the population of the second largest municipality).
The school authorities in Reykjavik made a thorough research on special education in the city’s compulsory schools. Based on their findings they issued the following policy guidelines:
The guiding philosophy is inclusion or schools that serve all pupils.
Every school should be able to tackle the needs of every pupil as possible.
It is likely that about 1% of pupils will study in special schools and special school units.
Parents have the right to choose between a special school, a special school unit and a mainstream school for their child.
The main objectives of the policy
- Inclusive education is the guiding policy for the city’s compulsory schools.
- Funding of special education will be divided into two parts:
a. Based on the number pupils attending a particular school for general special education.
b. Based on individual pupils in need of large support.
- Schools use flexible teaching methods to accommodate the needs of different pupils in mainstream classes.
- Special education facilities are available at every school.
- Every school has a co-ordinator of special education.
- Every school has a supporting (supervising) team for teachers because of pupils with learning-, behaviour- and communication-difficulties and a pupil protection committee.
- Assessment of pupils with special needs will be based on common criteria and the results of diagnostic tests will be used systematically to organise special education.
- Pupils with communication difficulties and behaviour difficulties will be able to receive behaviour modification training.
- Teachers will have access to trained assistants (pair educators) to help them with disabled pupils and pupils in need of more support.
- Pupils with delayed speaking development, speaking difficulties and serious speaking impairments will be served by their school or outside services.
- There is a possibility of establishing special school units within different areas in the city.
- Co-operation with the Reykjavik Juvenile Working Programme will be strengthened to provide for work-related education.
- Co-operation will be arranged with the Sports and Recreation Council in Reykjavik in providing recreation for disabled pupils and pupils in need of more support and with the Social Service in Reykjavik when supporting pupils in social difficulties within or outside of the school setting.
- The aim is that in Reykjavik there will be three special schools, one ‘twin school’ and few special units, besides hospital teaching.
The policy was implemented in stages between 2002 and 2004.
The policy paper is available in Icelandic at: http://dev.reykjavik.is/Portaldata/1/Resources/skjol/svid/menntasvid/pdf_skjol/stefna_um_serkennslu_lokaskjal.pdf
The report on special education in Reykjavik 1998-1999 is available in Icelandic at: http://dev.reykjavik.is/Portaldata/1/Resources/skjol/svid/menntasvid/pdf_skjol/utgafur/grunnskolar/ymsarskyrslurogbaeklingar/serkennsla_i_grunnskolum.pdf
Upper secondary school
No special schools for handicapped pupils exist at the upper secondary school level. Extra teaching hours are provided to schools wishing to give special support to individuals or groups of pupils so that they can either follow the mainstream curriculum or a special programme. There are special units operated in 18 secondary schools with approximately 3,400 pupils.
Many upper secondary schools now provide extra support to pupils who have difficulties with reading and writing.
The Regulation for teaching disabled pupils in upper secondary schools (no. 372/1998) can be found in Icelandic at:
Higher education institutions have accepted students with disabilities and handled the task in a variety of ways. The University of Iceland, the largest of its kind in the country with about 13.600 students, is the only one, which has formalised its services to students with handicap or special needs. Students can apply to its Counselling Service for special study circumstances and special examination procedures. Special study circumstances include the provision of information on curriculum in good time to allow sufficient preparation, flexibility in programme arrangements and personal progress, recording of lectures and a choice of suitable location for instruction. Adjustment of examination procedures include the extension of exam time, private exams, reading and writing assistance and finally alternative examination form, such as multiple choice, brief written responses or oral exams in place of long essay-type examinations.
The Regulation for special support at the University of Iceland (no 497/2002) can be found in Icelandic at:
State and regional support
All pre-schools have the right of access to an outside professional counselling and psychological service, employing psychologists, special education teachers, pre-school consultants and other specialists, which may be operated jointly with counselling services for the compulsory school.
According to the law on the compulsory school and a regulation on specialist services for schools, issued in June 1996, local municipalities are obliged to provide their compulsory schools with specialist services. This involves general curricular advice, specialist advice on the teaching of the main school subjects, specified in article 40, guidance for pupils and psychological counselling. The focus shall be on support for teachers and head teachers in day-to-day school work, including how to meet SEN, but also on teachers' projects aimed at school improvement. The purpose is to strengthen the professional capacity of the school to solve its own problems. Specialists of the service, being teachers, psychologists and other specialists are also expected to assess pupils with psychological or social problems, should these difficulties impede their education. Some advice to parents is also envisioned.
Segregated special schools provide consultation to mainstream schools and parents concerning two tasks: inclusion of pupils with disabilities into their local schools and the transfer of pupils from mainstream to special schools and vice versa. The consultation is to be carried out in close collaboration with the local specialist services. The local authorities of Reykjavík took over this service in 1996 when compulsory education was transferred to the municipalities.
Teachers working in special units situated in mainstream schools at compulsory level have regular contact with mainstream education through the part-time inclusion of individual pupils.
There are facilities available for children who are hospitalised in two national paediatric wards. This is sometimes counted as segregated special education, but is more akin to short-term home support teaching for sick children.
The Law on the Communication Centre for Deaf can be found in Icelandic at: http://www.althingi.is/lagasofn/nuna/1990129.html
The Regulation for specialised services in compulsory schools (no 386/1996) can be found in Icelandic at:
Teacher training - basic and specialist teacher training - Iceland
The School of Education at the University of Iceland and its predecessor the the Iceland University of Education has been the leader in teacher education in Iceland for over 100 years. The School of Education educates teachers for pre-schools, basic schools and upper secondary schools, sports and health scientists, social educators and leisure professionals. The School is divided into three faculties: Sport, Leisure Studies and Social Education, Teacher Education and Educational Studies.
The Faculty of Teacher Education offers undergraduate and graduate studies in Teacher Education and Pre-school Teacher Education. In addition, Teacher Certification Studies are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Teacher Education (B.Ed. 180 ECTS)
Pre-school Teacher Education (B.Ed. 180 ECTS
Teacher Certification (60 ECTS)
Teaching Studies (M.Ed. 120 ECTS)
Teacher Certification (60 ECTS)
The faculty of Sport, Leisure Studies and Social Education offers academic programmes in Sport and Health Sciences, Leisure Studies and Social Education.
Sport and health sciences (B.Ed. and BS 180 ECTS)
Leisure studies (B.A. 180 ECTS)
Social education (B.A. 180 ECTS)
Sport and health sciences (M.Ed. and M.S. 120 ECTS)
Leisure studies (M.Ed. 120 ECTS)
Social education (M.Ed. 120 ECTS)
The faculty of Educational Studies offers graduate studies in education as well as International Studies in Education. In addition, a variety of professional master’s programmes are offered for practicing teachers and administrators in pre-schools, primary schools and upper-secondary schools, as well as vigorous research-based programmes at the master’s and doctoral levels.
International studies in Education (B.A. 180 ECTS)
International studies in Education (M.A. 120 ECTS)
Education studies (M.Ed, M.A. 120 ECTS and Ed.D 180 ECTS)
Educational administration and evaluation studies (M.Ed. 120 ECTS)
Special education (M.Ed. 120 ECTS)
Educational studies with an emphasis on philosopy of education (M.ED. 120 ECTS)
Educational studies (Ph.D. 180-240 ECTS)
Due to the shortage of fully trained special educators many special schools and units hire regular teachers on a temporary basis. The same applies to mainstream schools. Approximately 5% of teachers employed at compulsory schools in Iceland are trained special educators.
Further information on teacher education in the School of Education can be found in the course catalogue at: https://ugla.hi.is/kennsluskra/index.php?tab=skoli&chapter=content&id=9276
Development of inclusion
As mentioned earlier the Icelandic educational system is based on inclusive education – Education for All. Inclusion means enabling all pupils to participate in the life and work of mainstream institutions to the best of their abilities, whatever their needs. Inclusive education means disabled and non-disabled children and young people learning together in ordinary pre-school provision, schools, colleges and universities, with appropriate networks of support. This is clearly stated in the Icelandic Educational Acts for the different school levels. Earlier standpoints focused upon prerequisites for inclusion but now the focus has shifted to the need to justify considering segregated options for pupils.
A child/young person has the right to special needs education if the parents, teachers and the schools specialist team agree that a certain special needs education provision is appropriate at any given time. The head teacher is expected to initiate the provision in co-operation with the parents. If there is a disagreement about the provision the case is referred to the local authority for decision. In the Regulation on Special Education for Compulsory Schools (no. 389/1996), special education is defined as teaching that is significantly different in objectives, content, teaching situation and/or methods from the teaching that other children of the same age are offered. Special education is planned for a longer or shorter period according to the pupil's needs and, when required, for the complete duration of the child’s school attendance. Special education can take place within or outside the mainstream classroom, in a special class or in a special school.
Special education means among other things:
- The writing of an education plan for an individual or a group of individuals. The plan is based on information and observation of the pupil's whole situation and the assessment of the pupil's schoolwork and mental and physical development. Both long-term and short-term plans for the pupil's education are to be made.
- Implementation according to the plan.
- Written reports and evaluation of the education plan and the teaching of it.
Special education is not seen as separate from other teaching; special education is one way of teaching children/young people and can be interpreted within a continuum.
For all levels of education i.e. from pre-school through upper secondary school the Education Acts state that children/young people with handicaps and/or SEN are to attend the same schools as children/young people without handicaps and/or SEN.
In the Icelandic report from the World Education Forum in Dakar (2000) there is more information on the situation in Iceland and an action plan for the Education for All policy until 2015.
The Action Plan can be found at: http://bella.mrn.stjr.is/utgafur/Dakarskyrslensk.pdf
Quality indicators for SNE
According to legislation and regulations on pre-primary education, the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture is responsible for carrying out a comprehensive evaluation of pre-schools, i.e. their general educational performance with regard to the national objectives and the schools own educational plans.
The legislation on compulsory education and upper secondary education stipulates that all compulsory and upper secondary schools are to adopt methods of evaluating school activities, including instruction and administrative practices, internal communication and external relations. For the primary schools the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture sets an agenda for three years at a time regarding surveys and assessments that aim at providing information on implementation of the Act. For the upper secondary schools the Ministry is to investigate the self-evaluation methods used by the schools with no less than five-year intervals.
The Ministry is responsible for carrying out evaluation of compulsory and upper secondary schools and their activities to ensure that schooling complies with provisions of the law on compulsory education and the National Curriculum Guidelines.
In line with the law on higher education, a regulation no 666/2003 is in force regarding quality control of university instruction, which requires universities to set up a formal internal quality evaluation system. The Ministry takes the initiative to conduct an external evaluation of higher education programmes or institutions and is responsible for approving new degrees.
For more information about the education system in Iceland you can access the new Eurydice database
References and sources
1. Education for all: Declaration adopted by the World Education Forum in Dakar, 2000: Iceland: Committee Report. Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Reykjavík. 2002.
2. Law for Communication centre for deft and hearing impaired nr. 1990/129.
3. The Compulsory School Act No 91/2008
4. Pre Schools Act No 90/2008
5. The upper-secondary school Act No 92/2008
6. The Universities Act No 63/2006
7. The National Curriculum Guide for Pre-Schools. Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Reykjavík. 2003.
8. The National Curriculum Guide for the compulsory school: general section. Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Reykjavík. Reykjavik. 2004
9. The National Curriculum Guide for the compulsory school: life skills section. Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Reykjavik. 2004
10. The National Curriculum in Icelandic for the upper secondary school: general section. Reykjavik. 2004.
11. The National Curriculum in Icelandic for the upper secondary school: special units. Reykjavik. 2004.
12. Ráðstefna menntamálaráðuneytisins um ýmis málefni barna og unglinga með sérþarfir. Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Reykjavík. 1996
13. Reglugerð um kennslu fatlaðra nemenda í framhaldsskólum 1998/372.
14. Reglugerð um námsmat nemenda sem víkja svo frá almennum þroska að þeim henta ekki samræmd próf 1996/709.
15. Reglugerð um sérfræðiþjónustu í grunnskólum 1996/386.
16. Reglugerð um sérkennslu 1996/389.
17. Reglur um sértæk úrræði í námi við Háskóla Íslands 2002/497.
18. SALAMANCA-YFIRLÝSINGIN og RAMMAÁÆTLUN UM AÐGERÐIR vegna nemenda með sérþarfir. Alþjóðlega ráðstefna um menntun nemenda með sérþarfir Salamanca, Spáni, 7.-10. júní 1994. Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Reykjavík. 1994.
19. Samningur Sameinuðu þjóðanna um réttindi barnsins 1992, nr. 18, 2. nóvember.
20. Sérdeildir framhaldsskóla, námskrá fyrir starfsbrautir. Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Reykjavík. 2000.
21. Sérkennsla í grunnskólum Reykjavíkur – Könnun á fjölda nemenda, ástæðum og framkvæmd. Fræðslumiðstöð Reykjavíkur. Reykjavík. 2000.
22. Stefna fræðsluráðs Reykjavíkur um sérkennslu Nefnd um sérkennslu og sérúrræði í Reykjavík Fræðslumiðstöð Reykjavíkur. Reykjavík. 2002.
23. The Educational System in Iceland. Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Reykjavík. 2002.
24. Verklagsreglur um viðurkenningu menntamálaráðherra á starfsreglum sérskóla/sérdeilda skv. 38. gr. laga nr. 66/1995 um grunnskóla 1997
25. Act on the affairs of people with disabilties, No. 59/1992
26. Course Catalogue of the University of Iceland. Reykjavík 2008.
Last modified Feb 07, 2012