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'Extend school year to improve reading'

Published: 05 Jan 2013 15:47 GMT+01:00

If approved the proposal could lead to shorter summer breaks for Swedish school pupils.

"It is alarming to see how school results are dropping and particularly reading skills, which is the basis for all other learning," Annika Eclund, head of the Christian Democrats schools policy group, told Sveriges Radio (SR).

A parliamentary inquiry has shown that the time allocated to Swedish language teaching has shrunk by 300 hours since the 1960s, from 1,800 hours to 1,500.

When it comes to literacy Swedish pupils are falling behind in international league tables.

According to the Sweden Democrats this has to do with a number of factors, including a shorter than average compulsory schooling compared to the rest of Europe.

Swedish pupils aged 9 to 11 study 50 hours less than the European average. In the 12 to 14 age group, Swedes study 130 hours less.

The Centre Party and the Liberal Party are positive to the proposal but the Moderate Party said they want to prioritize efforts to improve poor-performance schools and to get more skilled teachers.

The Swedish Teachers' Union also believes extending the school year is the wrong approach.

"All international research and experiences show that what really improves results is access to well-educated and competent teachers. That is what we need," Eva-Lis Sirén, chair of the Teachers' Union, told Sveriges Radio.

"We currently have unqualified teachers in Swedish school, but we also have a lack of teachers," she added.

But Mattias Hallberg, chair of Sweden's Student Associations (Sveriges elevkårer) thinks that pupils would actually welcome more Swedish classes, but he is not sure shortening the summer break is the right way forward.

"I think you could do a lot when it comes to improving scheduling, such as fewer free periods during school days," said Hallberg.

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Your comments about this article

17:59 January 5, 2013 by johan rebel
An extra week? How about two or three, plus longer school days?

Why is it that Swedish kids need two months of summer vacation? They days when they had to help bring in the harvest are long past.
22:33 January 5, 2013 by DavidtheNorseman
As someone who's been involved in education for decades this is just pure political posturing and idiotic. By the end of the regular school season the students (and teachers) are exhausted (no, not physically - for the morons out there). Adding a week would simply be an expensive exercise in futility.

Kids learn 6+ hours of new material every school day - a grueling regime few adults would survive long. By the end of the 200 odd school day season they need a mental rest.
02:26 January 6, 2013 by Svensksmith
Far better to adopt a year round schedule with breaks scheduled in at quarter ends.
11:32 January 6, 2013 by StockholmSam
The first three posts above are correct. Another solution would be to eliminate some of the frivolous subjects students are forced to learn that are major wastes of time and little more than stress factors. Decrease the number of courses a student has to study and increase the emphasis on reading, writing and arithmetic.
18:42 January 6, 2013 by johan rebel
"Adding a week would simply be an expensive exercise in futility."

Let me get this straight. Are you saying that students and teachers is all those countries were summer vacations are shorter than eight weeks (six weeks seems to be fairly typical) are engaging in colective annual exercises in futility?

Kids are not adults. If properly taught, they brains suck up knowlege like spunges.

I must confess that I had 12 weeks of summer vacation as a kid. That was for the simple reason that back in those days US diplomats got six weeks of home leave every second year, and embassies could not send half their staff home at the same time each summer. On the other hand, I was educated at a time when teachers were highly qualified, and students were expected to make an effort and then pass demanding exams to prove they had applied themselves.
23:40 January 6, 2013 by star10
Teach mainly literacy (reading, writing) and numeracy (math). Reduce the amount of other trash classes like social studies.
08:14 January 7, 2013 by skogsbo
in teaching, quantity is rarely preferable to quality.

Lower literacy will have more to do with how little kids are reading out of school, bedrooms full of tvs/computers/play stations/ smart phones and not a book in sight. I suspect many parents are too busy with the same toys to help the younger kids read, or give those younger still a bed time story. Reading and writing are becoming lost arts.
18:27 January 17, 2013 by D. ane
If they cannot do it in 9 months another week will not make any difference. They need to stop using all their wireless technologies and get a book and paper and do some of this at home.

Their brains are confused with all the input not to mention the microwaves that damage their nervous impulses. Yes we are devolving (instead of evolving)!

Skogsbo and star10 got it right!
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