Under proposals put forward in this week's budget, Malmö's elementary schools would swap the current two-term year for three terms, with a shorter summer break. If passed, these proposals would make it the first city in the country with three terms in the school year.
Liberal Party councillor Sara Wettergren argued that this structure, which is similar to the typical system in the UK for example, would help improve average grades and would also lead to a reduction in the results gap between schools in different areas.
“Many children who don't have Swedish as a native language lose a lot during the summer break,” she explained to the TT news agency. “Not everyone speaks Swedish at home or has Swedish-speaking people close to them, and that's when we notice a weakening in knowledge which affects all subjects.”
“Sweden has had two terms since the farming society. It's been outdated for a long time and I'm not the only one who thinks so,” Wettergren added. “It's not easy to change something that's been around for a long time, but at some point maybe you have to stick your neck out and test something new.”
Sweden's long summer breaks, which can last up to ten weeks depending on the region, have their roots in a time when children needed to help their parents out with farm work during the summer.
But in nearby countries such as Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, six-week breaks are more typical.
It's not the case that children would lose out on their time off under the new proposals; the breaks would simply be split more evenly throughout the year.
And before the new schedule can become a reality, it needs to get approval from both the government and the teachers' unions.
The Swedish Teachers' Union said that the proposals had come as a surprise, and called for cooperation.
“No one has raised this question with us. It's just appeared without us talking about it earlier,” Marie Wall Almquist, spokesperson for the Swedish Teachers' Union in Malmö, told TT.