• Sweden edition
 
Uppsala English school defends 'tough love'

Uppsala English school defends 'tough love'

Published: 19 Apr 2013 10:15 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Apr 2013 10:15 GMT+02:00

"(I) want to do something for them and all the other children in this school whose integrity is being violated," a relative of one of the school's students claimed in his or her complaint to the inspectorate, which is tasked with monitoring schools across the country.

The formal complaint was submitted in November and alleged that students were being punished for showing their bra straps and for failing to address their teachers with a formal Mr and Mrs. In Sweden the common practice is the use of first names.

The school's principal Mikael Östling, however, said rules on dress and comportment were part of a contract signed by the parents, the children and the school upon enrolment.

"We think a distraction-free learning environment is more important than being able to show your underwear," Östling told The Local. "We follow the Swedish school laws, but we also have an Anglo-American heritage, which we are proud of and enhances our profile."

He added that the pupils were comfortable addressing their teachers as Mr and Mrs, which meant that the accusation in the official complaint that they were threatened with detention if they used teachers' first names was baseless.

"It's not true, it's never happened, and it's a non-issue," he said. "Respect between the student and the teacher goes both ways".

Östling furthermore claimed that it was telling that the anonymous complainant is not a parent of one if its pupils. The relative who lodged the complaint wrote that he or she had decided to take up the cause because the student's parents did not to see a problem.

"I am close to these children, but I am not their guardian. I've spoken to the parents but they won't recognize that their child doesn't feel well," the complaint read.

The IES network in Sweden has about 13,000 students. Its American-born founder Barbara Bergström penned the official reply to the state agency. She referenced the Broken Windows sociology theory that a clean and intact environment works to deter disruption. The statement in no way denied the school's focus on discipline but chose to entitle it a "tough love" culture.

A foreign-born mother with two children in the Uppsala school said she thought the school need not defend its culture in such strict terms.

"'Tough love' is a harsh way to describe themselves, as the teachers at English school are much kinder than the description makes it sound," the woman, who chose to remain anonymous, told The Local.

She decided to pull her daughter out of her local school near Uppsala after being shocked at the lack of discipline there. They moved into the centre of the town to register in another free school, before moving her to the English school in grade four.

"In first grade, my child was offered hearing protection to cover her ears because the other children were so noisy. To me, that's unbelievable," she said. "I was so shocked. We even moved 20 kilometres to be able to move schools."

She also felt that her children would not be encouraged to go above and beyond the knowledge requirements set out by the Swedish school curriculum, and wanted an environment where they were encouraged to achieve.

The more disciplined culture offered at the Uppsala International English School was part of helping them do so, said the woman, who herself works with teenagers and believes it is more effective to promote good behaviour than to punish bad behaviour.

"The school contract has some silly little things like no häng (no lowslung trousers), no chewing gum, and no visible bra straps, but I'd rather have a school with no 'häng' than one where everything is allowed," she said.

The mother-of-two said she had no objection to regular feedback on how her children were doing in school. A key component to the complaint lodged against the school was an accusation that teachers grade the children's work in grades four and five. Swedish law prohibits grades until sixth grade.

The English school instead used a colour-code system designed to show if a pupil is fulfilling what is termed "knowledge requirements" in particular subjects as outlined in the Swedish school law, which was reformed as late as 2011.

"Students can see (the colour codes), absolutely, to see if they have passed or not passed an assessment. But they are not grades in the definition set by the law," the principal said.

Parents, meanwhile, appear to find the colour coding helpful as it is clearer than lofty references to knowledge requirements.

"Referencing (them) during a parent-teacher conference doesn't really tell me anything as a parent," the mother with two children at the school said. She has never regretted putting her children in a learning environment that has a bigger focus on discipline.

"When I say strict I am comparing it to Swedish schools not to schools in England. The kids are treated with kindness and respect but there are boundaries," she told The Local.

"For me, what we had before, there were just no boundaries at all. In my daughter's old school, an eight-year-old came in to class and told the teacher to shut up."

Ann Törnkvist

Follow Ann on Twitter here

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Opinion
'Why were we kept in the dark for years?'
The submarine hunt is now in it's sixth day. Photo: TT

'Why were we kept in the dark for years?'

Military expert Johanne Hildebrandt tells The Local that the biggest question in the Stockholm submarine hunt hasn't been answered yet - why don't we know more about the "other operations" from the last few years? READ  

The Local List
Eight things to love about renting in Sweden
Apartments in Sweden are compact. Photo: Shutterstock

Eight things to love about renting in Sweden

A housing crisis means that short-term sublets are the norm in major cities and rent regulation rules are frequently flouted. But this week, The Local's decided to look on the bright side of renting an apartment in Sweden. READ  

Business & Money
Nordea banks big third-quarter profit gain
Nordea's Chief Executive Christian Clausen. Photo: TT

Nordea banks big third-quarter profit gain

Swedish bank Nordea announced on Wednesday a sharp rise in third quarter profits despite the economic slowdown and major outlays for an IT overhaul. READ  

National
Knutby priest faces early release from prison
Knutby in eastern Sweden, the scene of the murder. Photo: TT

Knutby priest faces early release from prison

A former priest in eastern Sweden who was sentenced to life in prison for organizing the murder of his wife has had his sentence reduced. READ  

Opinion
'Sweden will see Russia as a threat again'

'Sweden will see Russia as a threat again'

The Local speaks to one of Europe's leading security experts about why social media meant the Swedish military couldn't keep their 'submarine' search a secret and how she believes the country will ramp up its security against Russia. READ  

Interview
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
Comedian Al Pitcher has launched his new tour. Photo: www.alpitcher.com

'Swedes are funnier than they think'

New Zealand-born Al Pitcher launched his new comedy show in Stockholm this week. There wasn't a dull moment as The Local phoned up the man who has become one of Sweden's hottest comedians, while he took an eventful stroll in the capital. READ  

National
Stockholm suicide bomb investigation closes
The suicide bombing took place in 2010. Photo: TT

Stockholm suicide bomb investigation closes

Sweden's Security Service (Säpo) has announced that it will stop its core investigation into a suicide bombing in Stockholm four years ago. READ  

Stockholm 'sub hunt'
Military heads into 'new phase' in sub search
The search for the missing 'submarine' is now in its sixth day. Photo: TT

Military heads into 'new phase' in sub search

A press conference on the search for a suspected foreign vessel in Swedish waters revealed that the Armed Forces would be heading into a "new phase" on Wednesday, although it remained unclear what that might involve. READ  

Lifestyle
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
The bronze replica cannon. Photo: Beth Dacey.

Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden

A replica of one of the cannons present on Stockholm's iconic Vasa warship when it sank in 1628 is being tested for the first time in central Sweden. READ  

Health
Swedish farmers contracted swine flu
Swine flu can spread between pigs and humans. Photo: TT

Swedish farmers contracted swine flu

A human strain of the swine flu virus normally only found in pigs was discovered in Sweden earlier this year, the country's Public Health Agency has revealed. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Get 20% off unique Swedish homeware
Blog updates

21 October

Denna & den här (The Swedish Teacher) »

"?Denna? or ?den hr?? Swedish language students often ask question about different pronouns. One pronoun that especially..." READ »

 

19 October

Getting it (Blogweiser) »

"Follow Joel Sherwood on FB Few watch baseball in Sweden. This is excellent when your team loses..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
Gallery
People-watching: October 19th
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: October 17th - 24th
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
What's on in Sweden: October 10th - 17th
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Society
My Swedish Career: A French fashionista in Sweden
Society
Swede's anti-bully Facebook tale goes viral
Society
Have you seen Sweden's viral subway cancer campaign?
National
Isis: Swedes linked to Turkish prisoner swap
National
Should Swedes be banned from buying sex abroad?
Gallery
Fredrik Reinfeldt's leaving presents
National
Five Swedish TV shows you shouldn't miss
Gallery
A tool belt, a casserole, and a book. Fredrik Reinfeldt's parliament gifts
TT
Lifestyle
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
TT
National
Sami reindeer herders win mine reprieve
Gallery
Property of the Week: Gamla Enskede
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Politics
Ten new minister faces you should know
Tech
First womb transplant baby in world born in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 5th
National
What's on in Sweden
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

1,007
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN