Violence and lack of funds plague school principals

Every fifth school principal in Sweden has been subjected to threats or violence, and many feel that they can’t do their jobs well due to insufficient resources.

One in ten principals also reports not feeling safe in his or her job, reports the Swedish Association of School Principals and Directors of Education.

More than half of the respondents to the survey reported needing to regularly work overtime in order to keep up, and several said they lacked the resources required to do a good job.

“Principals are responsible for ensuring that all students learn to read, write, and perform maths, but there aren’t always enough resources at schools to do that. For example, it’s not possible to hire as many teachers as needed so that students who need special help can receive it,” said Lars Flodin, head of the labour association.

The leadership which is often seen as so important in private companies isn’t prioritized by municipalities and the governing boards of independent schools, which are ultimately responsible for the schools, according to the association.

“It’s regrettable that the work environment is as bad as it is; if you want to make an effort to help Swedish schools, then you’ve absolutely got to improve the employment situation for principals,” said Flodin.

Flodin said heads of schools have all the responsibility but that the study shows they often don’t have enough resources to do their jobs.

“For principals it means that they can’t fulfill their curriculum, the school law, and the existing demands and at the end of the day to affects individual students,” he said.


Swedish chain banned from opening new schools for ‘serious failings’

One of Sweden's leading free school chains has been banned from opening new schools or otherwise expanding after the schools inspectorate identified "serious failings'.

Swedish chain banned from opening new schools for 'serious failings'

Thorengruppen educates 15,000 pupils in Sweden through its chain of primary schools, upper secondary schools, SFI language schools and professional training schools. It currently has applications outstanding to open 28 new schools or other educational establishments in the country. 

“We have judged that the shortcomings in the applicant’s existing establishments are so serious that in the current situation the conditions are not in place for them to run additional ones,” said Carin Clevesjö, the head of the inspectorate’s school permits division.  

According to Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT, the inspectorate discovered in the spring that pupils at the group’s Thoren framtid primary school in Älmhult had not received any tuition at all in Geography for two years, with schools in Sundsvall and Solna showing similar severe failings. The group has been ordered to pay a total of half a million kronor in fines. 

In its decision, the inspectorate said that this demonstrated that the company did not have the “wherewithal to follow the relevant requirements”. 

In an email to SVT, the group’s head of new schools, Christina Runesdotter, said it was wrong to judge the quality of the group as a whole from a few individual cases. 

“We consider that one cannot judge the quality of a huvudman [an entity responsible for a school] from individual cases,” she wrote. 

According to SVT, the inspectorate has rejected applications from the company in Munkedal, Ale, Östersund, Växjö, Södertälje, Nyköping, Karlstad, Halmstad, Falu, Eskilstuna, Helsingborg, Borås, Norrköping, Solna, Skellefteå, Uppsala, Gävle, Umeå Jönköping, Kristianstad, Sundsvall, Malmö, Västerås, and Lund.