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Sweden:National Reforms in School Education

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Overview Sweden

Contents

Sweden:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Sweden:Historical Development

Sweden:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Sweden:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Sweden:Political and Economic Situation

Sweden:Organisation and Governance

Sweden:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Sweden:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Sweden:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Sweden:Organisation of Private Education

Sweden:National Qualifications Framework

Sweden:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Sweden:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Sweden:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Sweden:Funding in Education

Sweden:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Sweden:Higher Education Funding

Sweden:Adult Education and Training Funding

Sweden:Early Childhood Education and Care

Sweden:Organisation of Programmes for Pre-Primary Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Pre-Primary Education

Sweden:Assessment in Programmes for Pre-Primary Education

Sweden:Organisation of the Pre-Primary Class

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in the Pre-Primary Class

Sweden:Assessment in the Pre-Primary Class

Sweden:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Sweden:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Sweden:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Sweden:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Sweden:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Sweden:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Sweden:Organisation of Upper General and Vocational Secondary Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Upper General and Vocational Secondary Education

Sweden:Assessment in Upper General and Vocational Secondary Education

Sweden:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Sweden:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Sweden:Higher Education

Sweden:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Sweden:First Cycle Programmes

Sweden:Bachelor

Sweden:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Sweden:Second Cycle Programmes

Sweden:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Sweden:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Sweden:Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Distribution of Responsibilities

Sweden:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Sweden:Main Providers

Sweden:Main Types of Provision

Sweden:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Sweden:Teachers and Education Staff

Sweden:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Sweden:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Sweden:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Sweden:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Management and Other Education Staff

Sweden:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Sweden:Management Staff for Higher Education

Sweden:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Sweden:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Quality Assurance

Sweden:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Sweden:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Educational Support and Guidance

Sweden:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Sweden:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Sweden:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Sweden:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Sweden:Mobility and Internationalisation

Sweden:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Mobility in Higher Education

Sweden:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Sweden:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Sweden:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Sweden:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Sweden:National Reforms in School Education

Sweden:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Sweden:National Reforms in Higher Education

Sweden:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Sweden:European Perspective

Sweden:Legislation

Sweden:Institutions

Sweden:Glossary

2017

Improved education for children in care

SiSAM is a collaborative model for continuous education aimed at children in care developed by the Swedish National Board of Institutional Care (Statens institutionsstyrelse) and the National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (Specialpedagogiska skolmyndigheten). The model was tested 2013-2015 by municipal social services and schools. Further development of the model will include children in familiy homes (familjehem), emergency family home (jourhem), homes for care or residence (hem för vård eller boende, HVB) and assisted living facilities (stödboende). Three government authorities are involved in developing the model, the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket), the National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (Specialpedagogiska skolmyndigheten) and the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen). For more information see the Swedish government official webpage.

Pilot project to promote vocational training and education

The government proposes a five year pilot project to improve and increase the interest for vocational education. The initiative establishes partnerships between upper secondary vocational education providers and business sector representatives. The purpose of the project is to address the decreased interest in vocational training and tackle a future shortage of competent personnel in many industries. For more information see the Swedish government official webpage

Improved opportunities for minority language education 

The Swedish Ministry of Education (Utbildningsdepartementet) is conducting a survey to better undestand what measures are needed to protect and strengthen the national minority languages. The query is partially due to EU's critisicim against Sweden regarding minority language education. The assignment will be presented on August 31, 2017. 

Changes to the Discrimination Act 

As of 1 January, 2017 new regulations apply regarding active measures against discrimination. These regulations will apply to preschool, primary and lower secondary school and are regulated by the Education Act and part of the Discrimination Act. For more information see the Swedish National Agency for Education's (Skolverketnew regulations.

Curricula changes to promote gender equality and equal rights 

The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) will suggest changes to the curricula for primary and lower secondary schools, preschools, leisure-time centres, compulsory education for students and children with intellectual disabilities, special schools for students and children with impaired hearing and/or with severe speech and language disabilities and the Sami schools.The proposed changes will strengthen the schools' mission to counteract traditional gender patterns, to promote gender equality and to actively encourage equal rights and opportunities. 

2016

Education providers will be required to provide education during school holidays

Education providers will be required to provide education during school holidays for pupils in year 8 and 9 in compulsory school. The pupils concerned are those risking not to meet one or more goals of knowledge and especially those risking not to be eligible for a national program in upper secondary school. The reform is intended to enter into force as of 1 June 2017. The education providers will be compensated through an increase of SEK 60 million in the general state grants received by the municipalities. 

A national strategy on digitalisation in school

The Swedish National Agency for Education has submitted a proposal to the Swedish government on a national strategy on digitalisation in school. The strategy aimes at giving all students and staff members the opportunity to develop digital skills. In addition, access to digital tools should be equal between schools and digitalisation should contribute to improved results and efficiency. The strategy applies to preschool, preschool class, leisure-time centres, compulsory school, compulsory school for pupils with learning disabilities, special school, Sami school, upper secondary school, upper secondary school for pupils with learning disabilities and adult education.

Increased investments in homework support

In 2016, the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) paid nearly SEK 269 million to 2,211 schools and SEK 12 million to 37 non-profit organisations to provide homework support. It is nearly ten times as much compared to 2015.

SEK 390 million per year is set aside for homwork suport during 2016-2019. The basic amount is SEK 1,000 for each student who is offered to participate in the activities. In 2016, SEK 8 million was earmarked for nonprofit organisations to provide homework support and the same amount is calculated for 2017.

Starting in 2016, municipalities and independent schools can also apply for grants for pupils in year 1-5 in primary school. Schools can now also collaborate with non-profit organisations and use their staff when arranging homework support.

Measures to enable all young people to complete upper secondary school

The government has appointed an investigator to, in dialogue with a parliamentary reference group, propose measures to enable all young people to complete upper secondary school. One specific task is to suggest how the upper secondary school introduction program can be improved, something that could specifically benefit the group of newly arrived young people. Another task is to propose other educational pathways that may serve as an alternative to upper secondary school education. The inquiry will also investigate whether, and to what extent, upper secondary education at folk high schools should be accessible to young people under the age of 18 years.

Improving coordination of support for pupils with disabilities

The official government report "Coordination, responsibility and communication - the way to increase the quality of education for students with certain disabilities" aimes to improve the coordination of support for pupils with disabilities. The report proposes that the state, municipality and county efforts for students with deafness, hearing loss or severe language disorder will be coordinated from the national level all the way to the classrooms through so called regional hubs. The report also proposes changes to the Education Act (Skollagen) so that sign language is offered on the same terms as minority languages and that the Special Needs Education Authority should be able to offer remote teaching when municipalities fail to recruit their own sign language teachers. The amendments are proposed to enter into force on 1 July 2018.

Updated curriculum strengthens the role of the preschool class

On July 1, the preschool class got a new section in the curriculum. The text, which clarifies the purpose and the core content of the preschool class, will strengthen its educational quality. The new curriculum texts include the following clarifications:

  • The preschool class will serve as a bridge between the preschool and the school, as the preschool class is characterised by a combination of working methods and pedagogy used in the different school forms.
  • The preschool class will prepare students for further schooling.
  • Information about the content of the education is to be transferred at the transition from the preschool to the preschool class, and again at the transition from the preschool class to the school.
  • It will be clearer who is responsible for transferring information about the content of education at transitions.

Improving the reception of immigrants

In 2015, 163,000 people sought asylum in Sweden. It is the highest number of asylum seekers in Sweden's modern history. The government is planning a number of investments to support the transition, improve people's access to education and work, and to strengthen efforts to combat racism and xenophobia in order to safeguard an open and democratic society. SEK 100 million will be invested in school buildings, SEK 30 million in increased funding for the reception of unaccompanied children and SEK 10 million to reinforce work against racism and xenophobia in schools of Sweden.

Increased tuition in mathematics for year 4-6

The government proses a gradual increase of the number of hours of mathematics for pupils in year 4-6. The increase will eventually amount to 105 more hours of mathematics tuition for all children in primary school. There is a proposed budget of SEK 245 million to compensate municipalities in 2016 and SEK 490 million from 2017. The changes are proposed to apply from July 1 2016.  

Fast track training schemes for newly arrived teachers and preschool teachers

From the autumn 2016, five Swedish universities offer a new course for newly arrived teachers and preschool teachers. The course is given partly in the Arabic language, so that the students will get an understanding of the Swedish school system as soon as possible. The fast track means that the newly arrived teachers and preschool teachers can get an internship and work experience and eventually an employment faster than is possible today. The goal of the fast track training schemes is to offer work for newly arrived in sectors with labour shortages.

Investments in equitable education

In the budget for 2016 the government invests in increased numbers of staff at leisure time centres and school libraries, increased compensation to local authorities for the education of children to asylum seekers and improved outdoor environments for preschools, schools and leisure time centres.

The state will take a clearer responsibility in supporting schools with low academic performance and challenging conditions. The government will also increase support for student health and extended teaching time to reach the requirements announced in the spring budget bill. In total the government will invest nearly SEK 660 million in equitable education in 2016. Together with the investments in equitable education announced in the 2015 spring budget, about SEK 1.8 billion will be invested in 2016.

Investments to make teaching a more attractive profession

The teaching profession has had declining status and attractiveness over a long period of time. According to the international study TALIS 2013 only five percent of Sweden's teachers consider the profession a high status one. A major teachers´ union (Lärarförbundet) and Statistics Sweden (Statistiska Centralbyrån) estimate that there will be a shortage of 65,000 teachers in 2025. 

In the budget for 2016, the government invests in raising teacher salaries, The Teacher Wage Initiative (Lärarlönelyftet). The government also proposes initiatives for more routes into the teaching profession, enhancing the ability for more teachers to receive their certificates and reinforcing ongoing professional development initiatives such as the boost for reading and the boost for mathematics. Together with investments announced in the 2015 spring budget, SEK 1.9 billion will be invested in 2016 and nearly SEK 3.4 billion annually between 2017-2019 to make teaching a more attractive profession.

Investing in early interventions

The government has already initiated a number of investments in early interventions. The primary school commitment includes investments in preschools, enhanced special education, more teachers in primary schools so that teachers have more time for their work and class sizes can be reduced. The government is also investigating a reading-writing-arithmetic guarantee to ensure that pupils get the support they need in time.

In the budget for 2016, the government invests in professional development in special education for teachers in secondary schools. The initiative will provide teachers with basic special educational competence. The initiative will develop the model for professional development that is established through the boost for reading and mathematics, where peer learning has been central to the improvements in schools. Together with investments announced in theh 2015 spring budget, the investment in early interventions amount to SEK 500 million in 2016 and thereafter SEK 570 million annually in 2017 and 2018 respectively, and SEK 500 million 2019. 

Assessment of newly arrived pupils’ knowledge

Assessing newly arrived pupils’ knowledge became mandatory for schools from 1 January 2016. The Swedish National Agency for Education will provide support to schools, both general support, such as skills development, and targeted interventions to schools in particular need of support. 
To further improve equal opportunities for newly arrived children across Sweden the municipalities will benefit from a significant economic contribution. Local governments will receive SEK 9.8 billion for better reception of asylum seekers and newly arrived. SEK 200 million will be allocated to the municipalities that has received a large proportion of asylum-seeking children over the last year. The government also raises the school voucher to local authorities for asylum-seeking children by 50 percent, which is an investment of 393 million.

Changes in the Education Act regarding national boarding schools

The government decided in 2014 that the concept of national boarding schools, in accordance with chapter 29, sections 15 and 16 in the Education Act, should be abolished and that the schools that had this position should be subject to the same rules as other Swedish grant-aided independent schools. The changes involves:

  • national boarding schools will no longer receive any extra grants
  • compensation for the students will be paid in the same manner as to other grant-aided independent schools
  • there will be a uniform system for government grants regarding Swedish foreign students attending a training course in Sweden
  • no fees must be levied for education in primary and secondary education

The changes came into force on January 1, 2016 with transition rules for students who have commenced training before that.

2015

Steps to improve school outcomes

In addition to the strengthened municipal responsibility, targeted provisions (including summer schools and classroom assistants) remain in place for students who do not have the necessary grades to continue their studies at upper secondary level after the current nine years of compulsory schooling. Homework help is also expected to continue to be supported. Knowledge standards will be set in reading and an assessment tool will be developed in Swedish and mathematics for the first school year (age 7). Additionally, a knowledge requirement is to be set in literacy. The number of teaching hours has been increased in mathematics (up to 120 hours a year) in compulsory schools at the cost of EUR 55 million per year. For more information see Sweden's 2015 Country Report

Reforming the teaching profession

The government supports teacher in-service training through collaborative learning. In 2015-18 around 40 000 teachers will be able to participate in specific training. Moreover, the government allocates SEK 40 million every year for ‘training schools’ from 2014 until 2019. The first 15 specialised ‘training schools’ have started to accommodate future teachers. Following the career development reform, since autumn 2013 one in six teachers benefits from an increased salary and the career advancement steps created for so-called ‘lead teachers’ and ‘senior lecturers’. From July 2015, only teachers with so called 'accreditation' will be allowed to grade students and be employed on a permanent contract. For more information see Sweden's 2015 Country Report

Improving integration of newly arrived students

The government aims at improving the integration of newly arrived migrant students. To this end, it announced in December 2014 a comprehensive proposal for reforming the reception of newly arrived students. An important element of the proposal is the assessment of students' prior knowledge and schooling background, although the framework and support structure for schools and municipalities are still to be elaborated. A government grant for increasing teaching hours for the newly arrived in compulsory school has been put in place. However, the impact of the upper secondary 'introductory programmes' is yet to be assessed. In February 2015, the government announced that municipalities will be given increased support to be able to provide newly arrived children and young people with a well-adapted child care and school education. For more information see Sweden's 2015 Country Report

Tax deductions for home study assistance removed

Tax deductions for home tuition for children were approved in December 2012. In the Spring Fiscal Policy Bill the government proposed to remove the tax deductions from the autumn term 2015, saving SEK 20 million in 2015 and SEK 50 million per year until 2019. The parliament accepted the proposal in June 2015 and the change came into effect in August 2015.

Voluntary introduction of grades in year 4

A pilot project will be carried out where schools are given the opportunity to introduce grades from year 4. The age when grades can first be given remains unchanged in the Education Act and stays at year 6. 

The Swedish National Agency for Education coordinates the pilot project and accepts applications from school heads to participate. A prerequisite for a school’s participation is that teachers as well as parents have been consulted. The Agency may authorize participation in the pilot scheme for a maximum of 100 schools across the country. The trial will begin in 2017. The pilot scheme will be monitored and evaluated regularly. The new grading system will be thoroughly evaluated and reported to parliament in 2020. For more information, in Swedish only, see the multi-party agreement

Inquiry regarding a mandatory preschool class

The government has investigated the options for the introduction of a ten year compulsory school with an obligatory primary school start at the age of six. The inquiry was presented 30 September 2015 and was open for consultation until the end of February 2016. The inquiry proposes:

  • How a mandatory preschool class for six year olds can best be introduced.
  • How the preschool class can become part of the primary school.
  • A timetable for the introduction of both options, and
  • the necessary constitutional amendments.

The inquiery suggests that the preschool class should be mandatory from the academic year 2017/2018.

Investment in Primary School “Lågstadielyftet”

The parliament has allocated SEK 1,987 billion for 2015 to improve the quality of the primary school. The investment will be used to improve the quality of teaching in primary schools. The government grant covers year 1-3 and the preschool class. The aim is that the state grant will be permanent. Municipalities and independent school organisations determine what the state grant will be used for based on their conditions and needs, eg, to reduce class sizes, to have more teachers in the classroom, to have lessons with classes divided in two or to recruit more specialist teachers. The Swedish National Agency for Education will administer the grant. For more information, in Swedish only, see the education committee’s report

National tests in Social- and Natural Sciences voluntary for pupils in year six

As of 15 April participation in national tests in Social Sciences and Natural Sciences for year six will be voluntary for schools. The amendment in the Education Ordinance aims to provide teachers with more time to spend on teaching instead of preparing for and administrating national exams. National tests are given in year 3, 6 and 9 in Swedish/Swedish as a second language, Mathematics, English, Social Science and in the Natural Science subjects. It is the headteacher who decides whether or not a school shall take part in the exams, they are mandatory for students at schools that participate. 

Investment to improve reading skills

The initiative “Läslyftet” aims to increase students' reading comprehension and writing skills by strengthening and developing the quality of teaching. The initiative is based on peer learning for teachers where they learn from and with each other with the support of a tutor.

SEK 48 million will be invested in the program in the academic 2015/2016 and managed by The Swedish National Agency for Education. The funds will be used to educate and offer time to one or more supervisors who in turn will assist fellow teachers with effective methods for reading and writing. Supervisors are offered training at higher education institutions. The initiative is aimed at teachers of all subjects and intended to be implemented 2015-2018. A final report including an evaluation of the initiative will be submitted by 15 December 2018 to the Ministry of Education. For more information, in Swedish only, see The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket).

Investment in education during school holidays

The Swedish parliament has allocated SEK 100 million to fund summer school and teaching during other school holidays for students in year 6-9. The additional tutoring is aimed at pupils who do not achieve the knowledge requirements for their particular year. This is an increased investment compared to the SEK 78 million that was invested in the same scheme last year. For more information, in Swedish only, see the education committee’s report

Investment in education against racism and intolerance

The Living History Forum has been commissioned by the government to undertake a major training project during the period 2015-2017 about various forms of racism and intolerance. The training will focus both on racism in history and the present day. The aim of the initiative is to contribute to a more equal society characterized by respect for the equal dignity and rights of all people and to promote democracy. The assignment will be carried out in cooperation with the Swedish National Agency for Education. The goal is to reach all Swedish pupils in primary and secondary school. The Living History Forum has been allocated SEK 25 million for the task. The initiative shall be evaluated and reported to the government by 10 March 2018. For more information, in Swedish only, see the government website.  

Curricula proposals and teaching tools regarding the Swedish national minority languages

The government gave the Swedish National Agency for Education the assignment of developing primary education curricula proposals regarding the Swedish national minority languages: Finnish, Romani Chib, Meänkieli and Yiddish. Furthermore, the assignment includes the development of knowledge requirements for the grades A, C and E. The agency should also support the development and production of books and teaching tools within the area. The government adopted the detailed subject plans 25 July 2015.

Wider access to mother tongue tuition

Native language instruction is a separate subject in compulsory school. Teaching in the subject should aim at helping the pupils to develop knowledge in and about their mother tongue. All students who speak a language other than Swedish at home can, in principle, receive mother tongue tuition in schools. Adopted children also have the right to education in their native language even if the language is not spoken at home. All those pupils should, however, have a basic knowledge of the language. For the national minority languages - Finnish, Meänkieli, Sami, Romany, and Yiddish - tuition can be given to children who do not speak the language at home every day. The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) had the task to develop the mother tongue curriculum with an allocated budget of SEK 2 million in 2014. The reform came into effect from the autumn 2015 with an allocated budget of SEK 5 million in 2015 and 9 million annually beginning in 2016.

Increased funding for professional development within the area of reading and writing

In the 2014 spring budget bill the government proposed that funds for teachers professional development within the area of reading and writing should more than double. The project will receive increased funding of SEK half a billion during 2015-2018 which means that additionally about 40 000 teachers will be able to participate in training.

More information, in Swedish only, is available on the government website

Resources to achieve higher learning outcomes for newly arrived students

In the 2014 spring budget bill, the government announced that SEK 1.8 billion should be invested during the next four years on newly arrived students. The funding is related to tree different areas:

  • Newly arrived students in primary school will receive an additional three lessons in Swedish per week during their first four years in Sweden.
  • A time limited targeted government grant is introduced which will be used to improve learning outcomes in Swedish , for example through training of teachers or through providing additional reading lessons.
  • A review of newly arrived students' skills are proposed to be made by the municipalities to quickly place the students within the appropriate grades.

More information, in Swedish only, is available on the government website.