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EDUCATION

Swedish court clears teacher who yanked pupil

UPDATED: A Swedish teacher who pulled a misbehaving student out of the classroom will not have to pay damages to the pupil's family, a district court said in a ruling welcomed by the teachers' union.

Swedish court clears teacher who yanked pupil
File photo: TT

A teacher in Höör municipality, southern Sweden, grew tired of a pupil's behaviour and grabbed him by the wrists, only to pull him out of his chair and out of the classroom.

The child and pupil safety ombudsman said the incident had both caused the pupil pain and left red marks on his wrists and back. The boy's family later demanded 15,000 kronor ($2,300) in damages from the municipality, but local administrators in Höör refused.

The case eventually made its way to the Lund District Court, which ruled that the altercation did not damage the pupil's integrity. The court ruling further stated that it was clear that the pupil's behaviour had disrupted the class and that it considered it to be proven that removing the boy was necessary to restore order.

While the court conceded that the teacher had caused the red marks on the pupil's wrists, the ruling deemed the level of violence justified to get to grips with the situation.

The teacher earlier this year told the regional Skånska Dagbladet newspaper that he had few tools to safeguard a good learning environment in the class room.

"The child and pupil ombudsman has an important role, at the same time there can be situations like this one," he said.  

The deputy head of the teachers' union Lärarnas Riksförbund welcomed the ruling. 

"Had it been the opposite, we'd have an even bigger problem in our schools. It would have meant a teacher can never touch a pupil," Anders Almgren said.

Good behaviour in the classrooms has been a sticking point for Education Minister Jan Björklund, who earlier this month appointed a "decorum commissioner" to look at ways to improve order, and to ensure a productive learning environment as Sweden keeps slipping in international comparisons of pupils' knowledge. 

Sweden's child and pupil safety ombudsman said on Thursday that she would appeal the Lund court ruling.

"My view is that in this case it was unjustified violence," Caroline Dyrefors Grufman told the TT news agency.

She said the ruling opened the door for teachers to resort to violence.

Almgren disagreed.

"It's gladdening that one now supports the teachers in their work to keep a calm work environment in the classrooms," he said. "And that you now know where the boundary is when it comes to enforcing the demands of the school law."

"In that way it could set something of a precedent, as teachers now know approximately what level we're talking about."
 

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ALMEDALEN 2022

Swedish PM pledges to ban profit making at free schools

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has pledged to stop companies withdrawing profits from schools, in what is likely to be one of the Social Democrats' main campaigning issues in the coming election campaign.

Swedish PM pledges to ban profit making at free schools

The proposal, one of three measures announced to “take back democratic control over the school system”, was launched on the first day of the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland.

On Sunday evening, Andersson is set to give the first big speech of the festival, with Ulf Kristersson, leader of the centre-right Moderate party, and Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar scheduled to make their speeches on Monday, and Sweden’s other party leaders taking slots on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  

“Schools in Sweden should focus on knowledge, not on the pursuit of profit,” Andersson said, as she made the pledge, stressing that her party aimed not only to ban withdrawing profits, but also “to make sure that all the possible loopholes are closed”. 

Free schools, she complained, siphon off billions of kronor in tax money every year at the same time as free schools increase divisions in society. 

Banning profits from schools is an obvious campaigning issue for the Social Democrats. The latest poll by Gothenburg University’s SOM Institute found that fully 67 percent of voters support such a ban.

The only issue is that the Centre Party, whose support the Social Democrats will need to form a government, is likely to block a future Social Democrat government from implementing it, something Andersson was willing to acknowledge.

“What I know is that there’s a very strong support for this among the Swedish people, but not in the Swedish parliament,” she said. 

The Social Democrats have campaigned on the issue in past elections, pledging to stoppa vinstjakten, or “stop the pursuit of profit in schools”, or, in the run-up to the 2018 election, only to see the policy blocked in the January Agreement the party did to win the support of the Centre Party and the Liberal party.  

On Sunday, Andersson would not give any details on whether companies listed on Swedish or international stockmarkets would be prevented from operating schools, saying she was leaving such details to an inquiry into reforming Sweden’s free school system the government launched on June 30th.  

In the press conference, Andersson criticised the inflated grades given out by free schools, which are dismissed by critics as glädjebetyg, literally “happy grades”.

“We end up having pupils who graduate with good marks who then realise that their school has let them down,” she said. 

At the press conference, Andersson also reiterated the Social Democrats call to ban the establishment of new religious free schools, and announced plans for a national schools choice system, stripping free schools of the ability to run their own queue systems. 

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