You may have heard that Swedish education is not very good. And the quality of Swedish education has indeed been hotly debated in the last 10 years or so, following declining results among Swedish students in international comparisons. It was the results in international studies and tests such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) that indicated a deteriorating performance among Swedish children in recent years.
It has been argued that Swedish students simply do not take these tests seriously as they do not affect their grades and critics of the standardised tests argue that the studies are too focused on math and science, and exclude areas of education that stimulate personal growth, morality and creativity. However, Sweden has lately worked to improve results and to raise the status of the teaching profession for long-term benefits and the 2019 PISA tests showed a positive trend for Sweden’s educational quality, with Sweden’s 15-year-olds scoring above the OECD average in mathematics, reading and science.
What does this mean for you?
Well, as a parent to a student in Sweden you should be aware how things are but also that things are changing. A new Swedish Education Act came in 2011 which contains basic principles for compulsory and further education, pre-school, pre-school year, out-of-school care and adult education. It promotes greater overview, freedom of choice, and student safety and security.
The year 2011 also saw a new consolidated curricula for all students in compulsory schools, Sami schools, special schools and upper secondary schools. The curricula contain new general goals, guidelines and syllabuses. The pre-school curriculum includes clearer goals for children’s linguistic and communicative development and for science and technology. It also includes mandatory national subject tests in years 3, 6 and 9 to assess student progress.