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EDUCATION

Government proposes new teacher certification

The Swedish government has announced the introduction of a professional certificate for teachers from 2012, with only those in possession eligible to secure a permanent contract.

Government proposes new teacher certification

The new certification system will apply to both pre-school and school teachers.

A person can be certified in two ways – through completing their teaching degree or through the completion of a university level degree in addition to further teaching qualifications, the four Alliance government party leaders write in an opinion article in the Dagens Nyheter daily on Monday.

Fredrik Reinfeldt, Maud Olofsson, Jan Björklund and Göran Hägglund also propose that a mentor system be put in place to supervise new teachers for an introductory year. Only after the completion of the introductory year can a permanent employment contract be offered.

“Only when the teacher has passed their first introductory year on top of an approved formal education can they become fully certified,” the party leaders write.

The Swedish Teachers’ Union (Lärarförbundet) has welcomed the move.

“It improves the quality of the schools. This, together with tighter demands on qualifications, also strengthens teaching as a profession,” union chairperson Eva-Lis Sirén told news agency TT.

Sirén added that students will feel more secure with teachers who hold formal qualifications.

She criticised the government however for not earmarking the funds for the initiative.

“The money for this is part of the general municipal pot. We know that times are tough and municipalities can thus elect to use the funds for something else. We hope that the government returns with clear guidelines.”

National Union of Teachers (Lärarnas Riksförbund – LR) president Metta Fjelkner also warmly welcomed the proposal.

“Education Minister Jan Björklund should be commended for having been careful to keep the promise to teachers over certification, as it was an election pledge in 2006,” said Fjelkner.

She also believes that it is important that the money actually goes to those who will serve as mentors and not into “a municipal black hole”.

But she also expressed “deep concern” over the working situation of teachers in Sweden’s schools.

“The government writes that a qualified and dedicated teaching staff is needed in order to achieve good results and I agree. But the actions of the government’s party colleagues in the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) in collective bargaining negotiations may be negating the positives,” she said, referring to ongoing pay negotiations that are close to deadlock.

“SKL want to lock in teachers and has no trust in them to prepare their lessons when they have the best opportunity to do so. They are the same parties but they act completely differently,” she says.

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EDUCATION

IES chain blocked from opening four new schools

Sweden's Internationella Engelska Skolan (IES) chain has been denied permission to open four new schools in Gothenburg, Huddinge, Norrtälje, and Upplands-Bro, after the schools inspectorate said it had not provided pupil data.

IES chain blocked from opening four new schools

According to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) has denied permission to the chain to open a new planned new school in Norrtälje, north of Stockholm, even though the building that will house it is already half built. The inspectorate has also denied permission to three other schools which the chain had applied to start in 2023. 

In all four cases, the applications have been rejected because the school did not submit the required independent assessment for how many pupils the schools were likely to have. 

Jörgen Stenquist, IES’s deputy chief executive, said that IES has not in the past had to submit this data, as it has always been able to point to the queues of pupils seeking admissions to the school. 

“The fact that Engelska Skolan, as opposed to our competition, has never had the need to hire external companies to do a direct pupil survey is because we have had so many in line,” he told DN.

“In the past, it has been enough that we reported a large queue in the local area. But if the School Inspectorate wants us to conduct targeted surveys and ask parents directly if they want their children to start at our new schools, then maybe we have to start doing that.”

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According to the newspaper, when the inspectorate had in the past asked for pupil predictions, the chain has refused, stating simply “we do not make student forecasts”, which the inspectorate has then accepted. 

However, in this year’s application round, when IES wrote: “We do not carry out traditional interest surveys as we simply have not had a need for this,” the inspectorate treated it as grounds to reject its applications. 

According to DN, other school chain have been complaining to the inspectorate that IES gets favourable treatment and was excused some requirements other chains have to fulfil. 

Liselotte Fredzell, from the inspectorate’s permitting unit, confirmed that the inspectorate was trying to be more even handed. 

“Yes, it is true that we are now striving for a more equal examination of applications. Things may have been getting too slack, and we needed to tighten up.” 

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