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RAPE

Teacher charged with sex crimes against pupils

A male high school teacher in Skövde, western Sweden, has been arrested and charged with a string of sexual offences including child rape.

The 41-year-old was led by police out of Helena school on Tuesday and was remanded in custody on Friday by Skaraborg district court.

He has been suspended from the school without pay and a tribunal will begin next week which is expected to result in his dismissal.

While admitting that he has engaged in sexual activities with a student, he denies the other charges of which he is accused.

According to a TV4 report, the teacher began having sexual liaisons with a female pupil at the beginning of the year.

When the allegations recently came to light, it was suspected this was not the first time he had forged a sexual relationship with a student.

Last week, Anna Sundström, school chief for Skövde municipality took action and reported the teacher to the police.

“I fail to see any extenuating circumstances,” she told TV4. “Unfortunately, this seems to be a case that has repeated itself. It was only last week when the real seriousness of what has happened was revealed.”

The school is now working with teachers and students and three counsellors have been put in place to offer one-on-one discussions.

“This is a very unusual situation,” Bertil Lönn, headmaster of Helena school, told TV4.

“Naturally we have to discuss the issue but we have not yet confirmed where we go from here.”

EDUCATION

Distance learning remains a ‘possibility’ for Swedish schools: Education minister

Remote learning remains a possibility, but not an obligation, for schools in Sweden as students around the country begin term this week, the Education Minister said on Wednesday.

Distance learning remains a 'possibility' for Swedish schools: Education minister
Education Minister Anna Ekström (L) and general director of the Schools Inspectorate, Helén Ängmo. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Minister Anna Ekström made the comments during a press conference in which she outlined the rules ahead of back-to-school season but did not make any new announcements.

She urged schools to be “flexible”, outlining some of the measures which have been recommended by the National Board of Education since an early stage in the pandemic.

This include changing furniture arrangements to promote distancing, staggering lesson and break times to prevent students mixing in large groups, and increasing cleaning. Many parent-teacher meetings are likely to be cancelled, she said.

Schools for under-16s have remained open throughout the pandemic, and Ekström said this decision was based on research showing children were affected by the virus to a lesser extent. “The younger the child, the more mild the symptoms,” she said.

In Sweden, only one of the almost 6,000 people to have died after testing positive for the coronavirus was aged under 10, and none of the victims have been in the 10-19 age group.

Ekström added that no occupational group linked to schools had been over-represented in Sweden's coronavirus statistics.

In addition to taking this kind of measures, heads of schools have also been given additional decision-making powers.

These include the ability to switch to remote learning, or make other changes such as adapting the timetable (including moving lessons to weekends) if necessary due to the infection situation. 

“If the situation gets worse, teaching can be moved partially or entirely to distance learning. This could happen in the whole country, individual schools, or in municipalities or regions where schools may need to close as a measure to prevent spread of infection,” Ekström said.

“The government is prepared to take measures, but we don't want to close schools.”

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