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School doze

The Local · 3 Sep 2004, 10:16

Published: 03 Sep 2004 10:16 GMT+02:00

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"If you miss class," the tabloid declared, "the teacher will text your parents."

Örjan Johansson, principal at IT upper-secondary school Kista Rissne and responsible for this latest wheeze, explained: "The kids think 'Shit! Now we can't bunk off'."

Apparently it was dealing with an absent pupil that first gave Örjan the idea.

"His mother was looking for him all over the place."

So Örjan decided to put in place a text-hotline to parents, to improve parent/school communication. Besides, all schools need to crack down on bunking off: absences mean they get less money from the local council.

Now, thanks to Örjan, all parents of Year 1 pupils have been given the option to be texted if their cherub got diverted on the way to school.

"Only five declined the offer," revealed Expressen, "and one of those didn't even have a mobile!"

School was also on the menu in Tuesday's Svenska Dagbladet. Parents, the paper reported, are protesting about being billed for school lunches which have traditionally been free.

One of the local authorities no longer serving free lunch is Haninge, just outside Stockholm. Parents are so outraged that a strike is planned for Monday.

"We're going to fight [the authorities] every step of the way over this," Jose Collazor, a father of four upper-secondary school pupils told the paper,

The new charge for school lunch is 500 crowns per pupil per term. Multiply that by four kids and if you're Mr Collazor you're suddenly buying a lot of lunch.

The trouble is, as SvD pointed out, three of Collazor's kids are attending private schools, where he's already paying for lunch. The local authority's latest idea means he's now being charged twice for these meals.

"Double invoices are a common problem," admitted Eva Lena Aresäll from the Association of Local Authorities. She explained to SvD that many authorities who've implemented lunch fees are "getting tangled up in legal and administrative problems."

Still, there's plenty of money involved - Haninge local authority are said to be expecting to make 2.5 million crowns a year from the charges.

But whether anyone pays remains to be seen. As SvD helpfully pointed out, "Parents aren't actually legally required to pay the invoice." What's more, "If they don't pay it doesn't mean their kids still won't get to eat lunch."

Finally, Aftonbladet weighed in with their own school-story this week and this time it was the kids who were smiling.

"A lie-in can benefit tired pupils," the paper revealed.

Wheeling out boffin Gerhard Nordlund, a researcher at Umeå University, Aftonbladet explained tired school kids need practical help in getting the most out of school.

According to Nordlund, puberty and all those growth spurts really take it out of some kids. Not to mention the computer games, TV, and bright lights. But sticking to his guns Nordlund explained it's mainly to do with "biology".

By Year 9, up to 45% of the kids in a study Nordlund carried out were having problems in the morning. Irritable and lethargic, many were unable to eat breakfast.

Story continues below…

The solution, according to Nordlund, is 'Flexitime'.

"Some schools have it already," he told Aftonbladet, "where those who come late get to do an extra hour in the afternoon."

This would naturally involve a number of practical issues like, say, rescheduling teachers, and the paper wondered if there was anything else that could be done for those poor, sleepy pupils.

"Breakfast and a lighter morning timetable," according to Gerhard Nordlund - although he acknowledged this might be difficult to implement.

Strange that he didn't think of suggesting that kids try and get an early night.

Jon Buscall

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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