Swedish preschooler left asleep in snowdrift

A five-year-old was left unnoticed in a snow drift for several hours at a pre-school in Norrköping in eastern Sweden, while a four-year-old boy managed to walk home by himself from a pre-school in central Gävle on Monday.

Swedish preschooler left asleep in snowdrift

The four-year-old took his leave from his pre-school, crossed several heavily trafficked streets and knocked on the door of his home, much to the astonishment of his mother, who luckily had been working from home on Monday.

When she called her son’s pre-school in central Gävle in northern Sweden, she learnt that staff hadn’t noticed that he had escaped.

Staff now plan to report the incident to the authorities. The Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinpektionen) are already busy investigating a similar incident involving another pre-school in the town.

In a separate incident in the eastern Sweden town of Norrköping, a five-year-old could not be found when his mother came to collect him and his little sister.

Staff at first concluded that he must have made a run for it, but he was later found sleeping in a snow drift outside in the garden.

“He had been asleep outside for several hours. I don’t know if I can trust the staff again,” his mother told the Norrköping Tidningar daily.

According the head of the pre-school, the matter is being treated very seriously and routines are set to be reviewed.

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Left Party to focus on pre-school staff reform

The minority opposition Left Party wants to reduce pre-school class sizes and invest in staff, it said ahead of releasing its proposed budget for the next political term.

Left Party to focus on pre-school staff reform
A pre-school class in the 1980s. File photo: Private

The Left Party is likely to form some kind of cooperation with the Social Democrats and Greens if there's a shift in government after the September elections. A key focus for party would then be to cap the number of children in pre-school. This would ease the burden on the staff, it says. 

"It's obvious that they don't have enough time no matter how much they try," financial spokeswoman Ulla Andersson said about the working conditions in an interview with public broadcaster SVT.

At present, there are on average 20 children per teacher in Sweden's pre-schools. 

The party would also like children whose parents are on parental leave to have better access to pre-schools. Currently, a child with a parent at home, for example because the family has welcomed another child, can only attend classes for 15 hours a week. The Left Party would like to increase that to 30 hours.

The reform would also allow children whose parents are unemployed to spend more time in pre-school.

The pre-school investment would cost 7.1 billion ($1.08 billion), with 750 million ($114 million) earmarked for employing more staff. The Left Party, which presents its full budget next Tuesday, would pay for the reforms by revoking the centre-right government's reduction in restaurant VAT.