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EDUCATION

Here are the best and worst schools in Sweden

The gap between Sweden's best and worst schools is growing, according to a new study from the National Union of Teachers in Sweden (Lärarnas Riksförbund).

Here are the best and worst schools in Sweden
A file photo of a student in a Swedish school. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

The study looked at five different areas including student achievement and teacher qualifications in order to produce figures on how school performance varies between Sweden’s municipalities.

The results showed that Lomma in Sweden’s southernmost region Skåne performed best, while Finspång in southeastern county Östergötland did worst. Performance in the specific categories varied significantly.

In Vellinge municipality for example, 98 percent of students passed their national tests in year nine and were eligible to progress to upper secondary school (Gymnasium), but in Färgelanda the rate almost halved to 52 percent.

Student performance was generally poorest in smaller municipalities and best in wealthy Stockholm municipalities.

“What is most evident is that it is so unequal between municipalities and incredibly varied. There are even differences between municipalities with similar economic make-ups,” Åsa Fahlén, chairperson of the National Union of Teachers, told news agency TT.

Fahlén compared Swedish schools to a lottery when it comes to the conditions students will work in, and highlighted an overall downward trend.

“We can see that the inequality is increasing and it is difficult to take anything positive from the results,” she said.

The union also argued that Sweden’s schools should receive their funding from the central state to try to tackle the imbalance, instead of having their resources allocated by municipalities as is currently the case.

“Municipalities are not able to deliver equal schools. Much depends on both the economic conditions but also will and understanding of the importance of school. Sometimes I don’t think people understand how important it is to invest in schools and to have competent teachers,” the union head argued.

Sweden’s schools have been criticized in recent years as scores in national tests slide down global rankings. The proportion of students who did not get good enough grades to move on to the final three years of school in the country rose from just over 10 percent in 2006, to more than 14 percent in 2015.

The municipalities whose schools performed best and worst, according to the study:

1. Lomma
2. Salem
3. Varberg
4. Härryda
5. Örnsköldsvik
6. Danderyd
7. Bollebygd
8. Markaryd
9. Ekerö
10. Luleå

281. Ronneby
281. Töreboda
283. Sollefteå
284. Nordanstig
285. Skinnskatteberg
286. Munkfors
286. Vansbro
288. Fagersta
289. Bollnäs
290. Finspång

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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