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Inclusion – The Swedish Perspective


I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit Sweden in May 2023 as part of an International Links Global, Erasmus funded project. The purpose of the visit was to explore how the Swedish education system approaches inclusion and works to meet pupil needs holistically, in essence, Inclusion – The Swedish Perspective.

During the visit, we had the opportunity to visit several schools, meet with staff and engage in reflective practice activities, exploring key messages and things we could take away and use back within our own settings.

A red building with a clock tower in Sweden.Logistics

The visit took place over the course of a week with us travelling from Stansted Airport to Gothenburg in Sweden. We had a very early start to make our way from North Wales to Stansted and I was accompanied on the visit by one of our Inclusion Managers and several colleagues from South Wales.

Upon arriving in Gothenburg, we travelled by coach to Lidkoping which is a beautiful municipality with picturesque views and a beautiful environment in Southern Sweden. We stayed in a central hotel for the duration of our visit, with the majority of our visits being within walking distance.

Throughout the visit we had the benefit of two guides who were experts in facilitating international visits and in helping practitioners to pull out key and emerging themes from such visits. They facilitated our movement between schools and created opportunities for group activities and reflection.

A group of school leaders sitting in a classroom listening to a presentation. School Visits

We had the opportunity to visit four schools and take part in an outdoor learning and Forest School session. Amongst these visits were a variety of types of schools which included a Swedish Free School and Municipality Controlled Schools. Whilst undertaking school visits, we split into groups and had the chance to meet staff and pupils, discuss their experiences, how they approach inclusion including what works and the challenges which exist.

Emerging Themes

Following each school visit, we came together as a group and considered emerging themes. These themes were then the focus of our subsequent visits, allowing us to explore key concepts and approaches in a little more detail and to consider how we can use what we had learnt to take back and use in our own schools.

Inclusion – The Swedish Perspective

From the visit, there were many positive and reassuring take aways. It was reassuring to hear that colleagues in Sweden experience similar challenges in relation to inclusion as we do back at home. Seeing how colleagues approach Forest School, educating the ‘whole child’ and adapting their curriculum to meet individual needs amongst others were just some of the positives I have taken back to school and implemented.


Having the opportunity to professionally network with colleagues from Wales and Sweden was a highlight of the visit. It gave the opportunity for professional dialogue between colleagues to think about key learning and approaches which could be taken away and used in our own schools.  We have maintained contact with several of those who attended the visit which helps us all to engage more widely than in our own local cluster of schools.

Leadership Lessons

There are a variety of lessons and take aways from the visit, as a school leader, understanding the similarity in the challenges we face was key. How those in the education sector in Sweden approach the challenges, the support around schools and in turn impact of this support is different to how we operate in Wales. Consideration of the wider support model that schools in Sweden access was a key leadership lesson, and creating in turn, the time and space to consider how to work differently, and in essence, to do less, but to do less better.


As a passionate geographer, I have always been keen to develop and foster international links between schools. The opportunity to visit Sweden and to experience the Swedish education system was an excellent one and one I was very privileged to be a part of. The experience of seeing how inclusion is promoted and the culture developed in Swedish schools was very informative and I took back many practical things which we have since implemented in our school.  I look forward to exploring further opportunities for international collaboration in the future.

Richard Hatwood, Headteacher
All Saints’ Church in Wales Primary School, Gresford