Testing within school education has been one of the key sticking points for the “red-green” opposition and the announcement is a significant retreat for the Left Party, and rules out any hope of a cross-bloc compromise between the Social Democrats and the governing Alliance parties.
“We will absolutely refuse to introduce grades for six-year-olds,” Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin said.
The opposition proposal means introducing grades from 13-14-years-old and written testimonials for 7-year-olds while the government has proposed grades from 12-13-years-old.
The Social Democrats and the Green Party were able to get the Left Party to concede to the change by agreeing to increase funding with the goal of raising the number of qualified teachers in primary schools to at least nine per 100 students.
Education minister Jan Björklund called the move “inadequate”.
“It is a half step forward that they’re willing to move the grades down one year compared to today, but I’m not that impressed because it is inadequate. We need grades from the intermediate level in Swedish schools and this is what the government has proposed,” Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund said in a comment.
Eva-Lis Sirén of the national teachers’ union (Lärarförbundet) however welcomed the news.
“I am very happy over the commitment to pupil-teacher ratios.”
Sirén reserved criticism for the fact that the opposition could only agree to testing from seventh grade while the government has proposed the sixth grade.
“This means that the politicians recognise their inability to develop a long term sustainable system.”