Getting accepted into upper secondary education is challenging for young people with special needs

By on 03.12.2015 in PhD thesis


“For many young people, regarded as having special educational needs, applying and being accepted into upper secondary education seems to be complex and challenging,” says Anna-Maija Niemi, member of JustEd team 4.

She will defend her doctoral dissertation at University of Helsinki on 18 December at 12:00.

In the dissertation she has focused on special needs education after basic education, particularly in the context of pre-vocational and vocational education and training. She analyses the positions of young people and the formation of their educational paths and choice-making.

“Students’ educational choice-making is constituted between their hopes and plans, and the options offered in the student counselling processes, but also within institutional practices and their restrictions”, says Anna-Maija.

Many of the young people and professionals interviewed in the study interpreted the segregated arrangements of special needs education and the definition of special needs itself as stigmatizing. Combining the support needed by each student with general teaching was suggested as a pedagogic practice to combat stigmatization.

“I propose that the educators should concentrate more on deconstructing the barriers of belonging and participation in educational contexts. This could be realized by fully welcoming different kinds of learners to the school community, and by starting to question the constitution of the ideal student in different sectors of education.”

Read the abstract here.


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About the Author

About the Author: Journalist currently working as Communications Specialist at the Nordic Centre of Excellence "Justice through Education in the Nordic countries" and in NordForsk's programme "Education for Tomorrow". .


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