Why Sweden’s free schools are failing

The New Statesman is reporting on the apparent decline of Sweden’s free school system, which was lauded by then UK Education Secretary Michael Gove in 2000 as “the future” of schooling.

Sweden’s 800 friskolor make up about a sixth of the country’s state-funded schools. Introduced in 1992, they gave parents the ability to use state spending on education to set up new schools and decide where to send their children. In that decade, friskolor were made easier to set up, with companies given the right to make a profit from running them; other schools were decentralised and a voucher system, allowing parents to choose their children’s school and then awarding funds based on parental demand, was introduced. Tony Blair praised the Swedish model in a 2005 government white paper. For Tories, Sweden’s schools held out a simple message: that competition could transform state education in England.

Schools were merely “telling themselves and their parents that things were getting better” when there was no evidence that they were, says Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s director for education and skills. He views free schools as “more symptom than cause”.

Above all, Sweden’s decline is “the story of a weak education system that has devolved more and more responsibility to local and school level without doing much to raise aspirations, monitor progress and deal with underperformance”, Schleicher says. “The difference is that England has an established exam system and, more importantly, Ofsted. At least you’ll know when things start to go wrong.”

More at: Why Sweden’s free schools are failing

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Comments

  1. gov2

    “The difference is that England has an established exam system and, more importantly, Ofsted. At least you’ll know when things start to go wrong.”

    Ofsted will do as it’s ordered by school commissioners paid to enforce academisation.

  2. This is a repeat of a Guardian article published one year ago.  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/10/sweden-schools-crisis-political-failure-education

  3. wasateacher

    not forgetting the huge waste of money caused by ‘free’ schools in the UK being set up in areas which already have surplus places and then closing because of insufficient demand.

  4. wasateacher

    not forgetting the huge waste of money caused by ‘free’ schools in the UK being set up in areas which already have surplus places and then closing because of insufficient demand.

  5. Mardy Moo

    Hmmmm…..” A weak education system that has devolved more and more responsibility to local and school level”. One word comes to mind…….”academies”!

  6. wasateacher

    Mardy Moo Except that in sponsored academies more and more responsibility is being devolved to corporate headquarters hundreds of miles away from the school and taken away from both the local level and the school.

  7. wasateacher Mardy Moo They create a prison and call it freedom.  http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/12/%E2%80%9Cthey-create-a-prison-and-call-it-freedom-%E2%80%9D-schools-education-providers-and-autonomy

  8. lucy_crehan

    Nor_edu Not in person Eleanor, unfortunately. I was only in Sweden briefly for a conference, Finland was my main scandi destination.

  9. lucy_crehan

    Nor_edu Yes, huge ones. They have gone in different directions, Sweden has taken a more neoliberal turn than Finland (e.g. free schools)

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