Geography reprieved in school changes

Swedish Geography teachers have scored a victory in the battle to keep their subject on the curriculum for thousands of Swedish students. The government announced that the subject will remain a core subject for students taking the social science course at upper secondary (gymnasie) schools, ditching plans to replace it with ‘Sustainable Development’.

Schools Minister Ibrahim Baylan also said that there would be more Swedish and more Mathematics for social science students, as part of a package of school reforms.

He confirmed a widely expected move to reduce the number of official assessments for pupils. Instead of receiving marks for every module or course, they will now receive less frequent marks for subjects as a whole.

He also announced that pupils on vocational courses could choose to become apprentices and spend one third of the course – 32 weeks – working in industry. They can currently spend up to 15 weeks of their course on the apprenticeships.

Fredrik Mandelin, ombudsman at Lärarförbundet, Sweden’s largest teachers’ union, said that most of the changes were expected, as they followed recommendations from the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket).

“We think it’s positive that the changes take account of the synergies between subjects,” Mandelin said.

But he was critical of plans to extend apprenticeships, which he said were not in demand.

“Few students want to become apprentices and there is no demand for apprenticeships on the job market,” he said. They had been introduced because there was “a political desire to provide apprenticeships.”