A study of Finnish primary school teachers’ experiences of their role and competences by implementing the three-tiered support
This study aimed to investigate Finnish primary school teachers’ experiences of the three-tiered support system, which was launched in 2010–2011 with the goal of promoting the inclusive approach in Finnish compulsory school. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with eight teachers in Finland, and the analysis was based on a thematic analytical approach. Results show that the teachers experienced having a central role in providing continuous support to pupils with different learning disabilities within the support system. Generally, they had a positive assessment of the system, which they saw as a natural part of their regular job. Nevertheless, they expressed facing challenges, such as the extended documentation and too little time for supporting all pupils in the class. The support from colleagues (i.e. special education teachers) was seen as very important, although their experience of consultation time was limited. Regarding the teachers’ competences in handling the system, it was evident they had developed relevant skills by collaborating with the special education teacher and by being active themselves. Despite the challenges, the results show that Finnish primary teachers experienced the support system as a possible and practicable way of supporting pupils with learning disabilities.