Swedes want crackdown on unruly pupils

Swedes want to see more teacher power and a crackdown on chaos in the classroom. School discipline the Swedish way means giving teachers the right to confiscate mobile phones, show unruly pupils the door and dare to dole out a detention or two.

According to a new survey, Swedes want to see a larger dose of discipline in schools. Commissioned by the National Union of Teachers in Sweden and the Swedish Teacher’s Union, the report was presented on Monday at Almedalen, Sweden’s annual week of political wrangling on the island of Gotland.

Six out of ten Swedes say schooling is the most important public matter for politicians to tackle, ahead of next year’s General Election in Sweden.

And 42 percent of voters have more faith in the opposition’s school of thought when it comes to education compared with 32 per cent who remain confident in the government’s guidelines.

“This is a strong signal to the politicians to prioritise schools, not just in words but with action,” said Eva-Lis Preisz, chair of the Swedish Teachers’ Union.

And it’s something for Sweden’s schools minister Ibrahim Baylan to think about as he prepares to unveil his new school law proposal.

Sweden’s two teaching unions are positive towards his plans to implement greater powers of authority for teachers, as are the majority of Swedes.

The figures show that 91 percent agree that teachers should have the right to confiscate mobile phones, 89 percent say they should be able to throw out disruptive students from their lessons or, as 73 per cent believe, hand out detentions.

“Disorder in schools is a big problem,” Preisz added. “Teachers can learn to use such powers without the risk of being judged, which is the case today.”

The survey concentrated on three main areas: the classroom environment, the status of the teaching profession and teacher responsibilities.

Baylan’s new proposal to enable teaching assistants to grade pupils with the help of a qualified teacher has not gone down so well. According to 89 per cent of those questioned, only fully qualified teachers should be able to grade school work and conduct personal development discussions with students.

“To guarantee quality in schools we have to have clear boundaries for what the many teaching assistants can do,” said Metta Fjelkner, chair of Sweden’s National Union of Teachers.

Meanwhile the survey revealed the teaching profession scored a low status mark among the general public. The majority considered the job to be strenuous and stressful and believe that teachers should get better pay.

“Teaching used to be a high status profession but that has changed drastically,” said Preisz. “Something must be done to upgrade the profession so that more people take up teaching, that those who become teachers stay in the job and those who have left the teaching profession come back”

Photo: Felix Oppenheim; Copyright: Bildhuset; Source: imagebank.sweden.se