Discipline crackdown in store for Swedish pupils

New schools minister Jan Björklund wants to introduce detention into Swedish upper-secondary schools (gymnasia). He also wants to make it possible to suspend difficult pupils from 'grundskola', the school Swedes attend from the ages of 7-16. The minister's new proposal will be presented in the spring of 2008.

“It is sometimes necessary to break up gangs and keep them apart, at least for a while, by means of transfer or suspension,” Björklund told Dagens Nyheter.

Björklund hopes that the disciplinary measures outlined will result in quieter schools that are more conducive to learning.

The proposal would also enable teachers to dismiss pupils from the classroom at both grundskola and gymnasium levels. In addition teachers would be authorised to send written warnings home to parents and reduce grades for pupils caught playing truant.

He also wants to legislate so that teachers can confiscate MP3 players and mobile phones for up to one week.

“This will be the most comprehensive legislative change in ten years, which is why it will take some time to prepare,” the minister told TT.

Next week Björklund will send the previous government’s proposal back to experts at the education department. He reckons that about half of the proposal’s 500 paragraphs will be revised to tie in with the coalition government’s educational policy.

The proposal for a new Education Act will be presented in early 2008.

“I will seek as broad a support base as possible for the proposal, including parties outside the Alliance. But there are a number of points, for example the those that concerns teachers’ disciplinary powers, on which we do not agree with the Social Democrats or their partners,” said Björklund.

“We have major disciplinary problems in Swedish schools. I want to see respect for Swedish teachers.”

Asked whether it was possible to legislate away these problems the minister responded that there were a number of contributory factors to the current state of Swedish schools.

“But it is no coincidence that we have the weakest legislation in the world and the largest disciplinary problems.”