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Inadequate compliance with the regulations relating to special education in primary and lower secondary schools

There are significant weaknesses in compliance with the case processing rules for special education in primary and lower secondary schools. This entails a risk that pupils with special needs are not receiving the equal educational provision to which they are entitled.  - Even though the Ministry of Education and Research has strengthened supervisory and guidance activities in relation to education, this has not contributed sufficiently to improving the municipalities’ compliance with the regulations, says Auditor general Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 3/10/2011 12:00 PM
Document 3:7 (2010-2011) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into special education in primary and lower secondary schools was submitted to the Storting on 10 March 2011.

The investigation shows that there are weaknesses in the municipalities’ case processing when assessing the need for special education and when granting rights to, planning and following up special education. Among other things, case processing times in the educational and psychological counselling service are too long. The educational authorities expect a case processing time of maximum three months for the preparation of expert assessments. Seventy per cent of the educational and psychological counselling services have case processing times of more three months, and 25 per cent more than six months.

Individual decisions concerning special education fail to adequately describe the content, organisation or scope of the educational provision schools are obliged to offer. In many cases, individual curricula for pupils who have been granted the right to special education lack specific learning goals. This makes it difficult for the schools to assess the learning outcome of the special education in their six-monthly reports and to make the necessary adjustments. - Long case processing times and the failure to specify learning goals undermine pupils’ legal rights, says Mr Kosmo.

The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation shows that many municipalities fail to comply with the Education Act’s provision requiring an adequate internal control system. The requirement for a separate internal control system in the educational field is intended to help to improve the municipalities’ compliance with the regulations and to strengthen the use of state supervision as a policy instrument. The investigation shows that the municipalities see this provision as being vague and difficult to understand. It also shows that the county governors find it demanding to carry out their supervisory function on the basis of the provision. - Given this provision’s importance in relation to compliance with the regulations, the central authorities should follow up the requirement for adequate internal control in the municipalities, concludes Mr Kosmo.

The Ministry of Education and Research agrees that the sector has a considerable potential for improving compliance with the regulations. The Ministry will continue and further develop its ongoing efforts in relation to supervision and guidance. It is also considering whether the legislation should be more specific as regards the requirement for adequate internal control.

The document can be downloaded via the link on the right. Public institutions can order the document from Government Administration Services, tel. (+47) 22 24 20 00, publikasjonsbestilling@dss.dep.no. Others can order the document from Fagbokforlaget, tel. (+47) 55 38 66 00, offpub@fagbokforlaget.no.

The deferral of public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Document No 3:7 (2010-2011), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.

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