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Tampere University gets educational responsibility for special education and special education teacher training

Published on 6.3.2023
Tampere University
Tampere University flag.
Photo: Jonne Renvall / Tampereen yliopisto
The Ministry of Education and Culture has granted Tampere University the educational responsibility of special education and special education teacher training. The Faculty of Education and Culture (EDU) will plan and implement the training. Organising special education studies and special education teacher training is one way of responding to the shortage of special education teachers in the Tampere region. It will also support the well-started development towards supporting students’ individual growth and learning at school and in early childhood education.

At the Faculty of Education and Culture, special education teacher training will become one of the specialisations in addition to class teacher training, early childhood education teacher training, and continuous learning and education.  The Faculty is currently designing these curricula, meaning that combining the new degree education with the Degree Programme in Education comes at an excellent time.

“Having the educational responsibility will expand and strengthen our role in teaching and research especially as regards teacher training. We will be able to participate more closely in the discussion that focuses on research and education in special education at national and international levels,” says Anne Jyrkiäinen, Vice Dean for Education at the Faculty of Education and Culture.

The new programme will begin at the beginning of Tampere University’s next curriculum period in autumn 2024 and admit 15 students. Non-degree studies in special education teacher training are also planned, which are likely to be implemented from 2025. The wide-ranging degree programme will enable joint studies in special education to be integrated into the different specialisations and degrees.

More pupils need special support

The significance of teachers’ special education competence has recently been highlighted as the number of pupils needing intense and special support has increased. The learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has also brought its own pedagogical challenges.

“The educational responsibility will give Tampere University an opportunity to participate in solving complex societal issues related to, for example, equality, diversity, and well-being. As the Tampere region keeps growing, the number of pupils is also increasing and there is a shortage of special education teachers. Especially in peripheral regions, schools must often employ unqualified teachers,” Jyrkiäinen notes.

Multidisciplinary collaboration continues and expands

The Faculty of Education and Culture already has expertise in teaching special education. It has provided the basic studies module in special education for all the degree students at the Faculty in accordance with the curricula of the Universities of Jyväskylä and Helsinki.

In recent years, Tampere University has developed an online implementation of the basic studies in special education together with Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) in accordance with the objectives of Digivisio 2030. Collaboration with Tampere University’s Teacher Training School, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, the City of Tampere and Tampere Region is expected to continue.

“The educational opening will enable our collaboration to be extended in several directions. As a university, we can provide education services in continuous and on-the-job learning and tailor, for example, continuous education in the field of special education,” Jyrkiäinen notes.

“I think that sharing our expertise and collaboration will continue and deepen in i.e., themes such as learning supports and well-being. As regards special education training, we need a broad perspective on the tasks in which our partners have a great deal of expertise and much to offer us,” she says.