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EDUCATION

Swedish teachers fail on homework: study

Swedish teachers have been given poor marks for failing to use homework properly and are trailing Nordic neighbours Finland in the classroom according to a new study.

Swedish teachers fail on homework: study

The study revealed that Finnish teachers made better use of homework in the classroom setting. Sweden, Finland and Norway participated in the study where it was found that Finland put greater emphasis on homework that allowed pupils to mark and discuss their work in class.

However, students shouldn’t get too excited about the report’s findings as homework is here to stay according to Sweden’s Education Minister Jan Björklund.

“The solution is not to get rid of homework,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper in reaction to the study.

In the report it states that Swedish teachers are using homework in an incorrect way by failing to follow it up adequately the next day. It was also suggested in the study that homework was sometimes used to fill in gaps when teachers were unable to teach during their classroom lessons.

“In Finland the homework activity in class is there to enhance learning which is a marked difference to Sweden and Norway,” said Liv Sissel Grønmo, a researcher at the University of Oslo.

Swedish teachers were given a poor grade for failing to follow up on mathematics homework in particular. Nine out of ten teachers in Finland who participated in the study were found to discuss maths homework regularly in class compared with just two in ten in Sweden.

“Homework is good when used properly but the problem is that it is often used as a way to make up for what they didn’t learn in class and that is wrong,” said Björklund.

He added that in order to solve the homework problem new directives are needed along with changes in the training of teachers.

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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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