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Swedish boarding schools put under review

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16:50 CET+01:00
All three of Sweden's national boarding schools -- Lundsberg, Grennaskolan and Sigtuna humanistiska läroverk -- will be investigated by the Schools Inspectorate (Skolverket) after reports of systematic bullying and violence between students at two of them.

”It is uncommon that we receive reports of such a serious nature. It indicates a system which allows for degrading behaviour and where adults are choosing not to see what is going on,” said Carina Abréu of the Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) to daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

The probe into Lundsberg is based on several reports of systematic bullying in the dormitories, where the older students treat the younger as ”slaves”, and use physical violence to retain their power.

When the second school, Grennaskolan, was reported, the agency decided it was prudent to look at Sigtuna as well, alma mater to King Carl XVI Gustaf, although no reports have so far been filed about that school.

”Not to my knowledge at least,” said Abréu to news agency TT

According to Abréu, several people connected to Lundsberg got in touch with the agency over the course of Wednesday and Thursday after the first reports about the school became public.

”There are many who want to share their stories. But they want to stay anonymous, as they are frightened. That in itself is worrying. It shouldn't be that way. You shouldn't have attended a school and then be scared of talking about it,” said Abréu.

According to SvD, one of the teachers who filed a first report against Lundsberg was asked to leave the school after the principal received complaints from students and parents about his ”newfangled ideas”.

His colleague chose to leave the school's employ at the same time.

Mats Almlöw, head of school Grennaskolan, welcomed the agency's decision to investigate all three boarding schools.

”I can't speak for the other schools but here bullying and 'peer education' is not allowed. However, even if we work pro-actively against this, things could still happen. We have 126 students between the ages 14 and 19, living in six different dormitories. And the same controversies that erupt in an ordinary home can occur here,” said Almlöw to TT.

Grennaskolan reported a case of to the police themselves earlier in the spring, according to Almlöw.

”When something happens that is not acceptable we will report it. I have no hesitations when it comes to that. If anyone has been hit, it is a case for the police,” he said.

The victimized student and one of the three reported have so far changed school and the case is being handled by the Swedish Child-and-Student Ombudsman (Barn- och elevombudet, BEO) and the police.

Almlöw has been with Grennaskolan for the last five years and says that he has not been aware of any widespread bullying during his time there.

But according to the agency, the report against the school is serious.

”It is serious allegations of bullying behaviour that has been going on for quite some time,” said Anne Terdén from the Schools Inspectorate to TT .

During November, she visited both Grennaskolan and Sigtuna humanistiska läroverk, where the principals, teachers, as well as general staff were interviewed and students were asked to answer questions in a survey.

”We focused on what the core values of the school are and how they deal with bullying,” she said.

Terdén won't say anything about the result of the investigation before the report has been completed. So far, the agency hasn't filed a report to the police with regards to Grennaskolan.

The three Swedish boarding schools get their permits from the government and are separate from other independent schools in Sweden.

That means that the agency doesn't have the right to revoke their permit, which it could in the case of other independent schools in the country.

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