Tightened teaching rules cause trouble for students

All Swedish teachers will soon have a professional certificate. But this new requirement is posing difficulties.

Students may have to switch teachers, be taught from a distance, or even see their school shut down.

“We’re a little worried that this may kill schools,” Ann-Mari Mäki Larsson, in charge of Pajala municipality’s education, said to the TT news agency.

Larsson is referring to a dilemma Pajala, in the far north of Sweden, shares with other thinly populated municipalities: their schools are small, with few teachers, and are far from other schools.

Competence regulations for teachers will be tightened this summer, and the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) is to issue teacher certificates. This will make small schools very vulnerable.

Two or three teacher together must have full competence for all subjects and all grades. After 2015, only certified teachers may be in charge of teaching and grading.

Neighbouring Kiruna municipality, as well as Krokom and Ånge municipalities, also in northern Sweden, are considering a range of practical solutions.

“Getting teachers to commute between several schools or distance teaching are the possibilities that we can see,” concluded school director Peter Nordmark in Kiruna.

“But distance teaching requires one teacher to broadcast, and one to be on location with the students, and that won’t be cheap.”

Rural areas and cities alike will have employers making some large changes within the teaching staff.

“Basically this reform is good, but when too much is changed at once the quality of the education is lowered. There’s a risk that we’re going to have worse teaching than we’ve had earlier between now and 2015,” said development manager Lars Thorin in Ånge municipality.

86,000 people are working as grade school teachers, and of these, 86 percent currently hold a degree in teaching.

This means that 10,300 full-time teachers lack competence, and cannot obtain a teacher certificate.

On July 1st the regulations for teachers and pre-school teachers will be tightened, and only teachers with the appropriate qualifications, in other words a teaching degree within their subject, can then be hired.

From August 1st teachers will be able to apply for a teacher certificate from the Swedish National Agency for Education. This will show which grades and subjects the teacher is qualified for.

To receive this certificate, a teaching degree and one year’s work experience is required.

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Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime