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EDUCATION

Swedish schools urged to utilise student English skills

Swedish schools fail to properly utilise students' English language skills, acquired through the consumption of film and music, according to a report by the Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen).

Swedish schools urged to utilise student English skills

The inspectorate has conducted an inspection of English teaching for students aged 12 to 16-years-old in schools across the country and found significant variations in both standards between children and the extent to which privately-acquired English skills are used in the classroom.

“The students’ use of English outside school is utilised poorly. Instead schools should take greater advantage and encourage the learning of English as naturally as what takes place outside school,” said Ingrid Åsgård at the inspectorate in a statement.

According to Sweden’s national curriculum, English should be focused on communication, that is to say its practical use.

Swedish school children have a generally high level of English acquired through a broad interest in international music and the fact that films are usually subtitled and rarely dubbed into Swedish.

The study showed however that significant variations exist with differences showing up even between classes in the same school.

The inspectorate thus draws the conclusion that improvements can be made to teaching in order to improve standards and adapt to the world outside of the classroom.

The inspectorate recommends that work be undertaken to transcend the two “cultures” of English – one at school and one at home – and to develop the more natural use of the language.

The inspectorate also identifies a problem that Swedish language is used too often in the English teaching in schools and they would also like to see a greater cooperation among English teachers to address these inequalities.

The Schools Inspectorate study involved students in year 6-9 (12-16-years-old) in 22 schools in 11 municipalities: Härryda, Jönköping, Linköping, Norrköping, Rättvik, Skellefteå, Skövde, Stockholm, Varberg, Östersund and Östra Göinge.

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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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