pupils moving in a corridor at school

Project: The school's indispensable but invisible workforce – a study of education support personnel

This project contains studies of the work carried out by so-called support personnel in the school, i.e. staff with the task of supporting, relieving or supplementing already established professional groups. The staff group has grown in size and is in 2022 more than half as large as the number of primary school teachers in Swedish schools. In today's school they appear indispensable, despite this there is surprisingly little knowledge about their work.

Project information

Project manager
Per Lindqvist
Other project members
Helena Ackesjö, Jens Gardesten, Lars Fonseca, Katarina Herrlin
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University
The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet)
1 Jan 2023–31 Dec 2025
Pedagogy (Department of Education and Teachers' Practice, Faculty of Social Sciences)

More about the project

The paraprofessional territory in Swedish schools is growing. It is populated mainly by staff doing low-paid work, supporting or supplementing already established professional categories.

The number of paraprofessionals are now more than half as large as the number of primary and lower secondary school teachers in the Swedish school. They are involved in all parts of everyday work in schools, and constitutes a significant and nowadays almost indispensable occupational group. Although many schools have developed a dependence on paraprofessional services, bringing forth unexpected and perhaps unwanted consequences, the knowledge of their work is surprisingly low.

This project aims to generate knowledge by systematically describing and problematizing work in the paraprofessional territory in Swedish schools. Results from the project will bring an updated description of the occupational field and an in-depth understanding of paraprofessional work in schools and its potential consequences. The project is based on research indicating that the expansion of the paraprofessional territory is bringing occupational and professional dynamics to life, changing the way schools are organizing interactions and relations.

Three complementary studies will be implemented. Firstly, two surveys with the aim of mapping the paraprofessional territory in Swedish schools, and secondly, a field study with the intention of discerning the social processes that paraprofessionals negotiate in everyday work.

The project is part of the research in the Research on pedagogical professions and practices (PEPP) research group and the Linnaeus Knowledge Environment Education in change.