Swedish teacher risks sack for student bets

A Swedish schoolteacher has been suspended after making a wager with his students about passing an exam. If they passed, he would pay them 100 kronor ($14.85) each, and if they failed, they would have to cough up 200 kronor.

Swedish teacher risks sack for student bets

“I think they are overreacting,” said one student, who reportedly lost the bet, to local paper Smålandsposten.

One of the fours students passed the test and earned the 100 kronor, one was absent due to illness, another never turned in the test and one failed.

The day after the exam he paid his teacher 200 kronor, according to the paper.

“I wanted to be fair and honest and give my teacher 200 kronor seeing as I failed the test,” said the student who viewed the bet as a “joke”.

However, the joke was lost on the teacher’s employer, the Växjö municipality.

There the feeling is that the man has behaved in a way that warrants his dismissal from the school.

“It is a question of taking advantage of a person who is dependent on you. To make them hand over money for not passing a test is highly inappropriate behaviour,” said municipality personnel manager Michael Färdigh to the paper.

The school board received the information from a concerned parent who had heard what had happened and was worried about the implications.

According to the paper, the teacher regrets having made the wager with the students and says that he has been under pressure from the school board for some time.

He was hoping that the students would see it as a carrot to perform better in school.

His employers say that the wager is enough to dismiss the teacher; however, the relationship between him and the school has been difficult for some time.

“But that’s not it. It is this incident that has triggered the whole thing,” Färdigh told Smålandsposten.

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‘Earlier grades could help vulnerable pupils’

Sweden's finance minister has proposed the introduction of grades in third grade, arguing that it could help children with less-educated parents and help Sweden meet its aims for a modern knowledge-based economy.

'Earlier grades could help vulnerable pupils'

Writing in Dagens Nyheter (DN), Anders Borg and his Moderate Party colleague Tomas Tobé, head of the parliamentary committee on education (utbildningsutskottet), argued that the removal of grades for young children had most affected the pupils with less-educated parents.

“Swedish schools will have zero tolerance of pupils not reaching the education goals and Sweden will be one of the countries that face international competition with knowledge, research and high productivity,” they wrote.

Citing Swedish children’s slipping test results in international comparisons, they credited Education Minister Jan Björklund for tightening the reins.

“Investments in teacher quality and salaries, which will make teaching into a career, in conjunction with earlier grading, more national tests and longer hours spent in school are examples of reform,” they wrote.

“These reforms give support in particular to pupils whose families aren’t able to compensate for gaps in teaching at school.”

They said research supported this thesis, but did not specify which studies.

Borg and Tobé further argued for the importance of grades in giving teachers and principals feedback about which students needed extra help. It could also help identify schools in need of more resources, they said.

Referencing Finland’s high scores in international comparisons, they argued that Sweden should adopt its neighbour’s system of offering help to students early on.

“In Sweden, about 15 percent of grade-schools were not offering help to pupils who risked not getting adequate grades,” they wrote about a School Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) study from 2011.

“The pupils have a right to that help.”

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