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Minister proposes elite high school classes

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Minister proposes elite high school classes
13:55 CEST+02:00
Sweden's education minister Jan Björklund on Tuesday proposed the establishment of elite high school classes to enable select pupils to pursue upper secondary classes and the study of a chosen subject in depth.

According to the legislative proposal, which will now be referred for consideration, the government opens the way for high schools (högstadiet) to select pupils for the elite classes with the help of testing.

The classes are designed to allow talented pupils a freer hand to study as many upper secondary school (gymnasium) courses as they can, in advance.

If the proposal is passed into law the classes will be established from the autumn term 2012.

Björklund underlined at a press conference announcing the plan that entrance examinations are of core importance - well-educated middle class parents will not be allowed to use their contacts and persuasion to secure a place for their child, it should be the pupil's talent alone which decides, he said.

The minister conceded on Tuesday that in fact the elite classes are nothing new and already exist within subjects such as music and sport.

"I don't understand why it should be taboo to also have specialised education for talented pupils in academic subjects in high school."

Björklund blamed the previous Social Democratic government for perpetuating the Jante Law within Swedish education, referring to the generally applied sociological term to negatively describe an attitude towards individuality and success.

"We have had a Social Democratic Jante Law casting a shadow for decades over initiatives such as this within Swedish schools policy. It is a Jante Law that we want to leave behind us," Jan Björklund said.

The Swedish compulsory schooling system consists of nine academic years from the age of around 7-years-old. The nine years are divided into three blocks of entitled low, middle and high "stadium" and are followed by a three year upper secondary education which is not compulsory and typically offers more specialisation.

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