One in two students complain of ‘noisy’ class

Swedish classrooms continue to get more rowdy despite warnings from school inspectors, a new study carried out across the country has found.

One in two students complain of 'noisy' class

“We see how teachers are forced to check students’ behaviour and are interrupted by nonsense questions in the classrooms,” said Per Ingvar de la Motte, inspector from the Lund Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

Forgetful students having to retrieve their books from their lockers in the middle of class also disturb the other children

“Others just start talking or start putting their things away before the class is over,” de la Motte told the paper.

Dagens Nyheter has looked at answers to a survey taken by tens of thousands of Swedish children, at the behest of the local authorities in the municipalities where they live.

In Stockholm and Malmö, some 50 percent of 14-year-olds said that they never find the peace and quiet needed to work during school hours.

Some 50 percent of Malmö students of the ages 12, 14 and 15 said that they never, seldom or sometimes have the peace and quiet that they need in school.

In Stockholm, 46 percent of 14-year-old students (year 8) said that they could work undisturbed during class, and 63 percent of 11-year-olds (year 5).

A separate study carried out by the Schools Inspectorate on 435 of Sweden’s schools earlier in the year showed that the problem isn’t just a big city phenomenon.

When asked to rate the statement: “During class other students disturb the peace of the classroom”, 54 percent of all 11-year-olds (year 5) fully or partly agreed. Among the 15-year-olds (year 9) the corresponding figure was 57 percent.

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Distance learning remains a ‘possibility’ for Swedish schools: Education minister

Remote learning remains a possibility, but not an obligation, for schools in Sweden as students around the country begin term this week, the Education Minister said on Wednesday.

Distance learning remains a 'possibility' for Swedish schools: Education minister
Education Minister Anna Ekström (L) and general director of the Schools Inspectorate, Helén Ängmo. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Minister Anna Ekström made the comments during a press conference in which she outlined the rules ahead of back-to-school season but did not make any new announcements.

She urged schools to be “flexible”, outlining some of the measures which have been recommended by the National Board of Education since an early stage in the pandemic.

This include changing furniture arrangements to promote distancing, staggering lesson and break times to prevent students mixing in large groups, and increasing cleaning. Many parent-teacher meetings are likely to be cancelled, she said.

Schools for under-16s have remained open throughout the pandemic, and Ekström said this decision was based on research showing children were affected by the virus to a lesser extent. “The younger the child, the more mild the symptoms,” she said.

In Sweden, only one of the almost 6,000 people to have died after testing positive for the coronavirus was aged under 10, and none of the victims have been in the 10-19 age group.

Ekström added that no occupational group linked to schools had been over-represented in Sweden's coronavirus statistics.

In addition to taking this kind of measures, heads of schools have also been given additional decision-making powers.

These include the ability to switch to remote learning, or make other changes such as adapting the timetable (including moving lessons to weekends) if necessary due to the infection situation. 

“If the situation gets worse, teaching can be moved partially or entirely to distance learning. This could happen in the whole country, individual schools, or in municipalities or regions where schools may need to close as a measure to prevent spread of infection,” Ekström said.

“The government is prepared to take measures, but we don't want to close schools.”