Guess I’m not the only one

14 March 2013

Yesterday the local paper published a scathing article sharply criticizing Little Girl’s small village elementary school (email me for the link or Google’s English translation).

Evidently the school recently had a standard visit from Skolverket (The Swedish National Agency for Education) which determined that the school is extremely deficient in physical safety, creating a secure environment, paying attention to attendance, having zero tolerance for bullying and violence, supporting children who are being left out, monitoring the children during free time, teachers’ attitudes towards and respect for the students, providing support for Swedish-as-a-second language students, communicating with parents, meeting the needs of more advanced students, having communicable educational goals and results, and meeting national educational standards. Additionally, apparently the school has had five principals in the last two-and-a-half years.

Awesome. I am so thrilled we moved across the ocean so that our children could grow up in this charming little village with such a lovely school.

I called a mom contact of mine in the village and asked her what she thought, and she told me her kids had been on the waiting lists for other schools for years as they’ve been disappointed with the school for an assortment of reasons. Good to know. WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME THIS STUFF BEFORE? Moving here seems more and more like a very uninformed decision.

On the bright side, the attention the school is now getting will hopefully make things better, including the issues I wrote about in my last post about the pseudo-bullying that so bothers Little Girl. It’s also good to know I am not crazy and over-reactive and culturally insensitive for being unhappy about aspects of Little Girl’s experience there. Apparently they are supposed to have lesson plans and watch the kids at recess and take violence seriously and provide support for Swedish-as-a-second language students; it wasn’t just The Swedish Way that they haven’t been. This certainly seems like a good time to get involved with what is, I am now learning, the large group of dissatisfied parents of kids at that school.


9 Responses to “Guess I’m not the only one”

  1. Sara Says:

    Well, that’s disappointing. It wasn’t news to you, but there’s something about seeing it in black and white (and hearing it from other people) that makes things seem much more vivid. Really, though, I’m not just trying to put positive spin on it when I say that it seems to me to be good news that you have reason to expect higher standards in Sweden. It would have been awful if tolerance of mild violence among young children in schools WAS just a weird Swedish thing! I hope that you are successful in working for change.

  2. Alyssa Says:

    I agree with Sara. This is good. Now you can meet those other dissatisfied parents raise hell. I am telling you as a teacher working in a major school system that parents that make the most fuss get the attention. I know you may not want to make a fuss for Little Girl’s sake but if there is a group in place then that may make it a bit easier.

  3. Youma Says:

    Education is not sweden’s strongest dicipline unfortunately, why we loose to finland in the “best country” competitions.

  4. a Says:

    Now that you know that it’s not just you, maybe you’ll feel more comfortable about making issues known. And maybe you can organize the other parents, who don’t seem to be doing anything to make the school change. (If it were my only option, I’d be there every day hovering over them and making sure my child was learning something. Why are these parents just complacently accepting poor service?)

    Vindication! And crap! Why couldn’t the district you moved to have had the best school? That sucks. But there’s hope…

  5. Annika Says:

    Wow – as you say, this is bad news, but perhaps with a silver lining (the larger group of dissatisfied parents to join up with). Long term, if it were me I would probably look into either moving or switching schools – seems like a big battle and problem to take on :(.

    @Hanna – well in this particular case and for different reasons, E is at home which means she does have the time and resources to fight for LG’s safety. Not that this is an ideal solution for everyone but in THIS case with THIS school and THIS little girl at risk, it is a good thing. I kind of wish someone would have had the time to fight that battle for me in primary school. I am absolutely not blaming my parents for going to work but at the same time going to school day after day risking violence and always being scared is hell!

    You can’t expect a kid that age to figure out why things are going seriously wrong or to fix them, and if the system has been failing for a long time like in this case, someone has to step in even if it means taking on what is practically a full time job either to protect the child or to change the system.

    • hanna Says:

      I’m aware that E is at home, I was answering a’s comment about the other parents. I doubt that a majority of them are stay-at-home mums. The comment wasn’t about E, maybe you should read it again.

    • Antropóloga Says:

      We can’t/won’t move within Sweden, because buying the family home from my husband’s parents was, like, the whole point. We’d both have better work opportunities if we didn’t live in a rural village outside a very small city, of course, but this house was such a big part of why we came here, and now that we’ve put a lot into renovating it, moving is even more out of the question. All that actually sounds kind of unconvincing and dumb when I write it out, though. The other component is that my husband’s family all live in this area, not that we see most of them often.

      And though of course there are other schools (all with waiting lists), I don’t really want my kids to go to, say, the English School with all the American teachers, because why live in Sweden then? If this village was the goal, then so is the village school. But it would be stupid to keep the children in it if it really keeps being subpar. I see that, of course. There are other schools and it may be time to join some waiting lists.

      I keep telling my husband I want to talk to the rektor about how I can be more involved and maybe be at the school physically to do something (what, though? rastvakt?) He says that I can’t do that because of the baby, but that the parent-teacher organization is the way to go. So that’s what we’ll do. We will be involved in that. Honestly I didn’t even know they had one before. The school never gave us any info on it.

      I’ll write more about it, but my husband did have a very long sit-down with the (very new) rektor and got some answers about what is going on at the school and has a good feeling about the future in general and with this troubled kid in particular. I am more dubious but I also was not at the meeting.


  6. Maria Says:

    Skolinspektionen’s job is to critisise, and never commend. A top school which does everything completely right would thus get a blank report. I think it’s good to know… the reports are all public, so if I were you I’d get the reports both for your school and for the schools that are supposedly better, and which have waiting lists. I’ve done that in my area, and was surprised at what I found. In order to realistically interpret what the Skolinspektionen reports you’ll have to put in quite an effort, in my experience. You have your own feeling for this school and it matters more, believe me. Talking with the rektor is a great start. The parent-teacher organization will probably be slumbering at best, it takes a couple of active parents to keep it alive and kicking, but once it’s up and running, in my experience the school will definitely listen. Perhaps you could be one of those active parents to shake things up a bit?

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