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This article explores two aspects of special needs education (SNE) for pupils in compulsory schools in Finland and Norway, who according to official procedures, have been granted SNE. The two aspects are educational settings for the implementation of SNE and formal competence among those who implement the SNE to which the pupils have a right. The results are based on explorative studies of official laws and regulations, available statistical data and earlier research from both countries. The results indicate that a majority of the target pupil group in Finland receive their SNE, whether full or part time, in a special class, whereas in Norway, most of these pupils receive part-time SNE, provided in regular classes or smaller groups in mainstream school. Furthermore, the results indicate that in Finland, highly qualified special education teachers are frequently engaged in the implementation of SNE, while in Norway, teacher assistants – guided by a general teacher – often seem to have greater responsibility for implementing SNE. To conclude, a redirection of SNE in both countries is needed towards working methods that are more inclusive. In Finland, educational settings need a stronger focus, and in Norway, there is a need to invest more in teachers’ competence in SNE.