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EDUCATION

Failing pupils to sit extra school year

Pupils failing to graduate from compulsory level education (grundskola) could be forced to sit an extra year, according to a new government proposal to extend the age of mandatory school attendance to 17-years-old.

Failing pupils to sit extra school year

Pupils already have the opportunity to attend school for an extra year to boost their grades but are currently freed from legal obligations to attend school after their sixteenth birthday.

“It is permissible to retake a school year, but as compulsory education ends at 16 it means that many drop out,” education minister Jan Björklund told Dagens Nyheter.

Björklund explained that the the government proposal, which forms part of a new schools law to be presented on Monday, means that pupils will be offered tailored supervision during the additional school year.

“Some need special resource teachers, some simply need more time,” he said.

Björklund reasons that the changes are needed to underline the obligations of the nine-year compulsory level education system to all pupils.

He wants to see the extra year introduced as soon as possible to ensure that pupils do not leave school lacking the basic qualifications for high school (gymnasium) courses.

The extra year could be introduced as early as year three as the first indications of a pupil’s progress emerge in conjunction with the first stage of national tests in Swedish and mathematics.

“The purpose of these tests is to catch those who don’t make the grade,” Björklund told Dagens Nyheter.

The education minister also promised that pupils who wish to voluntarily undergo another year of school would be allowed to do so.

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EDUCATION

Inquiry calls for free after-school care for 6-9 year-olds in Sweden

Children between ages 6-9 years should be allowed admittance to after-school recreation centers free of charge, according to a report submitted to Sweden’s Minister of Education Lotta Edholm (L).

Inquiry calls for free after-school care for 6-9 year-olds in Sweden

“If this reform is implemented, after-school recreation centers will be accessible to the children who may have the greatest need for the activities,” said Kerstin Andersson, who was appointed to lead a government inquiry into expanding access to after-school recreation by the former Social Democrat government. 

More than half a million primary- and middle-school-aged children spend a large part of their school days and holidays in after-school centres.

But the right to after-school care is not freely available to all children. In most municipalities, it is conditional on the parent’s occupational status of working or studying. Thus, attendance varies and is significantly lower in areas where unemployment is high and family finances weak.

In this context, the previous government formally began to inquire into expanding rights to leisure. The report was recently handed over to Sweden’s education minister, Lotta Edholm, on Monday.

Andersson proposed that after-school activities should be made available free of charge to all children between the ages of six and nine in the same way that preschool has been for children between the ages of three and five. This would mean that children whose parents are unemployed, on parental leave or long-term sick leave will no longer be excluded. 

“The biggest benefit is that after-school recreation centres will be made available to all children,” Andersson said. “Today, participation is highest in areas with very good conditions, while it is lower in sparsely populated areas and in areas with socio-economic challenges.” 

Enforcing this proposal could cause a need for about 10,200 more places in after-school centre, would cost the state just over half a billion kronor a year, and would require more adults to work in after-school centres. 

Andersson recommends recruiting staff more broadly, and not insisting that so many staff are specialised after-school activities teachers, or fritidspedagod

“The Education Act states that qualified teachers are responsible for teaching, but that other staff may participate,” Andersson said. “This is sometimes interpreted as meaning that other staff may be used, but preferably not’. We propose that recognition be given to so-called ‘other staff’, and that they should be given a clear role in the work.”

She suggested that people who have studied in the “children’s teaching and recreational programmes” at gymnasium level,  people who have studied recreational training, and social educators might be used. 

“People trained to work with children can contribute with many different skills. Right now, it might be an uncertain work situation for many who work for a few months while the employer is looking for qualified teachers”, Andersson said. 

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