The excellent school example in Landskrona and Liberal school politics

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The city of Landskrona, on the Scanian west coast, an old town with a shipbuilding yard, ro-ro ferries to the island Ven in the middle of Öresund, industries, an old fort and also in recent years quite a few immigrants from both other parts of the country and other parts of the world was during the 1990’s and early 21st century known as a quite troublesome town. Quite often there were fights, racism, people who behaved badly, damages, burglaries and other serious crimes committed. The schools in Landskrona too had lots of problems. However, improvements were on the way. One strong politician who dared to deal with the problems in a constructive way was the liberal politician Torkild Strandberg. Landskrona was in the 1990’s and first years of this millennium ruled by the Social Democrats, but Torkild Strandberg and his party colleagues from Folkpartiet Liberalerna/the People’s Party the Liberals had 3-7 seats in the Municipal Board, and they thought that the Social Democrats had too little focus on knowledge acquiring and education and too much focus on seeing the pupils and families as victims.

Then in 2006 the People’s Party got the chance to rule locally. Landskrona has the last eight years been ruled by the coalition Folkpartiet Liberalerna, Moderaterna, (the Conservatives) and Miljöpartiet de Gröna/the Environment Party the Green. Folkpartiet has an old tradition to work for schooling. (In fact public schools for all Swedish children was introduced already in the 1840’s after suggestions from the Liberals). Of course there still are problems in Landskrona, but since 2006 the local schools and the education system has gradually improved. Here is part of the story.

In the first photo above you see Lisa Flinth. She is Head of Landskrona Municipality Education Board/Landskrona Stads Utbildningsnämnd. What Lisa and the others did when they got more power behind their words was to put more focus on learning and believing in every pupil’s positive potential, from the kindergarden to the adult education. The People’s Party succeeded in getting a broad acceptance politically for their plan, despite sulky comments and intitial objections from the local Social Democrats. The plan has put focus on several items:

  • Knowledge acquiring
  • Language development
  • Mathematics
  • That the grades should heighten to at least the national level.
  • Less vandalization and calmer school environment.
  • Improved relations between pupils and teachers, school and family, school and local business companies and municipality.
  • Notice and support pupils with problems.
  • Believe in the pupil’s capacity to learn and improve.
  • Less crime going on in Landskrona.

Every year a document of excpectations is signed by the Head of the Education Board and the schools. At the schools in Landskrona there is a high priority to aid the pupils with the worst conditions, co-operate with the families, include pupils with immigrant background and develop educational methods. The schools do this by frequent evaluations and analyzes. One goes through the pupils’ development month for month, discuss with the education teams, the school leaders and listen in the teachers’ experiences. Everyone try to be a good role model according to their competence. Most teachers in Landskrona nowadays have proper education for teaching, career opportunities for those who want to and also lecturers on a high level. The schools in this municipality have become increasingly attractive in recent years. So called quality dialogues are being used as tools in the development as well as the so called Parent Alliance. A few years ago also a digitalized way of showing and following up the development for each pupil and class semester per semester, school year per school year in every single subject was introduced. It has become so successfull, and the pupils have developed so well the last four years especially that this digitalized model tool SkolFam developed in Landskrona now is exported to other communities and municipalities in Sweden.

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Grown-up pupils studying Sfi, Swedish for immigrants in Landskrona follow a system now when they study Swedish in school 2,5 days a week and the other 2,5 they have work practice at a local company. The Landskrona schools have developed a good form of co-operation with local companies, especially for upper secondary schools, Sfi, and other adult education. The former ship yard OHIAB for instance have arranged apprentice places for those who want that kind of education. Landskrona co-operate with Lund University about an education in Marine Biology. Upper secondary school education in order to become electricians or other forms of industry programmes are well developed.The ship yard and other companies often take apprentice students to make them excellent craftsmen. Pupils in primary- and lower secondary schools have class weblogs, and they too have developed well. Many more pupils and families in Landskrona get a hígher standard on their education and better chances to inclusion, work practice and jobs both on a shorter and longer term than just a few years ago. This much thanks to the Liberal education development of this city.

The Liberals worked hard during the 1800’s to make the schools public so that all Swedish children should have the right to educate, not just a selected few. A law was passed in the 1840’s, but it would take several decades before the full implementation of the new school system with school for all children in Sweden was completed. The Liberals back then also fought hard for the emancipation of women, and women’s right to vote. The first time a Liberal Swedish Member of Parliament suggested that was in 1884, five years before the foundation of the Social Democratic Party. In 1912 the Liberal Prime Minister Karl Staaff again suggested that women should have the right to vote, but it was Nils Edén, Prime Minister in 1919 who in co-operation with the Social Democrats passed the law about the right to vote for all Swedish adult men and women. The first general election was held in 1921… Gender equality and school issues have always been important for us and still are.

As it is now Sweden has a new grading system from A-F introduced by this government in 2011. Some parties want to abolish grades altogether while the People’s Party the Liberals also want to reintroduce a grading system or at least comments about order and discipline. Those were abolished in Swedish schools during the 1960’s, with a disastrous effect. Since the 1970’s the discipline and order, as well as general knowledge in Swedish schools have descended in a tragic way, along with the status for the teacher profession. It just has got worse and worse. In 1989 the then Social Democrat School Minister Göran Persson, later Prime Minister introduced the Municipalization of the Swedish schools, which also many times have been disastrous. Now the Liberals want to make the school system nationalized again. Some teachers sigh over more grades and paper work, concerning grades in order and discipline if that was reintroduced, but the idea is also that the national tests which now are heavy burdens on the individual teachers should be corrected by external censors instead.

When I met Jan Björklund, our party leader, Education Minister and Sweden’s Vice Prime Minister, in Helsingborg a few weeks ago I reminded him of when I in the summer of 2002 sent him and Lars Leijonborg, who was party leader of Folkpartiet Liberalerna back then a suggestion about a new grading system, with more grading steps than what we had in 2002 and also a system for grades in order and discipline. When I reminded him of this Björklund smiled and said that I could say that my suggestions partly had become reality.

Anders Moberg, August 31st 2014

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