Where are the best (and worst) areas for primary schools in Sweden?

Where are the best (and worst) areas for primary schools in Sweden?
The schools don't just differ in means and conditions. Photo: Lena Granefelt/Agent Molly & Co/imagebank.sweden.se
There are significant differences when it comes to investment in primary schools and the schools' results across Sweden, according to a new study from the National Union of Teachers in Sweden (Lärarnas Riksförbund).

The union has for the first time created a ranking of Sweden's 290 municipalities based on the primary school education on offer. It looked at the resources allocated to schools, teachers' salaries, the proportion of teachers with a licence, and student grades.

Union chairperson Åsa Fahlén said that the survey showed major differences between different areas, both in terms of finances and student achievement, even when background factors were taken into account.

“Our impression that all students do not get the same opportunities is confirmed again,” she said in a statement. “It is becoming increasingly important which municipality you live in. This cannot be called anything other than a failure and is completely unacceptable.”

Top of the ranking was Bengtsfors in Västra Götaland, while Säter in Dalarna came last.


She said the goal of the ranking was not to highlight the best- and worst-performing municipalities, but rather to show the significant gaps between them. One example is that two municipalities with extremely different socio-economic conditions, such as Täby on the outskirts of Stockholm and Lysekil in Västra Götaland, invested the same amount in their primary schools.

And it's not just means and conditions where the municipalities differ, Fahlén said, but also in terms of ambition when it comes to schools. She argued that in many areas, the level of ambition was too low, leading to less money being spent on teaching.

In order to begin bridging these gaps, the union recommended that the state take over responsibility for school funding, something which is currently up to individual municipalities. 

“All the Swedish municipalities must realize that the teachers' conditions and sufficient resources are crucial for the students' results,” warned Fahlén.

The top- and worst-performing municipalities in Sweden for primary schools, according to the ranking (adjusted for background factors):

1. Bengtsfors
2. Uppvidinge
3. Gnosjö
4. Surahammar
5. Båstad
6. Grums
7. Nacka
8. Åsele
9. Upplands Väsby
10. Laholm

281. Bollnäs
282. Mora
283. Vingåker
284. Knivsta
285. Vaggeryd
286. Ockelbo
287. Falun
288. Ånge
289. Hallsberg
290. Säter

IN DEPTH: What's behind the rising inequality in Sweden's schools, and can it be fixed?

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