Curriculum, Subjects, Number of Hours
The curriculum for the compulsory school, preschool class and the leisure-time centre (Läroplan för grundskolan, förskoleklassen och fritidshemmet) came into force in autumn 2011. The curriculum sets out the goals and general principles. The goals are of two kinds: a) goals to aim for and b) goals to attain. The goal is to aim to state the direction of the school's work and thus the desired quality development. The goals to be attained are an expression of the minimum pupil attainment required when leaving school. It is the responsibility of the school to ensure that pupils are given the necessary support to reach these goals.
The syllabi are written by the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket), and decided upon by the government. The syllabus gives each subject its general orientation and nature and sets out the goals to aim for in the subject and the goals to be attained by years three, five and nine. There is no regulation on teaching methods or on which kind of pedagogical tools (books, computers etc) to be used.
The timetable, which forms part of the Education Act, states the guaranteed total number of hours of tuition. For year 1-9 of compulsory schooling, a total number of 6 890 hours are guaranteed. For the preschool class a total number of 525 hours is guaranteed. The schools themselves decide how the teaching time is allocated over the nine years of compulsory schooling and when a subject is introduced. The timetable also provides scope for the pupil's own options and those of the school. Around 11 percent of the total time available is set aside for such options. Decisions on the distribution of the number of hours between subjects, groups of subjects, choice of languages and the pupil's own options are made by the school board. The school head makes decisions on the school’s choices and establishes the local timetable. The number of hours in the timetable per level (year 1-3, 4-6 and 7-9), subject or group of subjects, may be reduced with a maximum of 20 percent but it is not permitted to reduce the number of hours in Swedish or Swedish as a second language, English and mathematics.
Timetable for the compulsory school - guaranteed minimum number of teaching hours (= 60 minutes) for subjects and subject groups:
Home and Consumer studies
Physical Education and Health
Swedish/Swedish as a second language
Geography, History, Religion, Social studies; together:
Biology, Chemistry, Technology, Physics; together:
|Total guaranteed hours||6 890|
Pupil options enable pupils to deepen and broaden their knowledge in one or more subjects. Of the total guaranteed number of hours (6 890), 600 hours may be used for school-specific options. The school can decide to use hours from all subjects in the compulsory school in order to develop its own specific profile. However, no subject or group of subjects may be reduced by more than 20 percent and the teaching hours in Swedish, Swedish as a second language, English and mathematics cannot be reduced. Common school profiles are to focus on music, culture, sport, science and languages.
There are a number of obligatory national tests in year three, six and nine. Pupils in year three have national tests in Swedish/Swedish as a second language and mathematics. Pupils in year six have national tests in Swedish/Swedish as a second language, mathematics and English. In year nine the pupils do national tests in Swedish/Swedish as a second language, mathematics, English, one of the social science subjects (geography, history, religious studies or social science) and in one of the natural science subjects (physics, chemistry or biology).
‘Swedish as a second language’ is regarded as a subject in its own right at all levels of compulsory school. Pupils with immigrant background can, if they need and wish so, study ‘Swedish as a second language’ instead of regular Swedish.
English is the first compulsory foreign language. Each municipality determines when to start teaching English, but is governed by the goals to be achieved by the fifth year. Consequently, many pupils start English tuition in the first school year. All pupils must choose another second language in addition to English; German, French and Spanish are the most common. Municipalities must offer the choice of at least two of these languages. In addition, other languages may be offered. As an alternative to foreign languages, pupils may choose sign language, the language spoken at home, a deepening of their knowledge of Swedish/Swedish as a second language or English. The schools decide when to begin instruction in a second foreign language. Around 70 percent of the pupils study a second foreign language in year six. A third foreign language may be offered as a pupil option or as a school option.
The syllabi link the core values of the curriculum with the contents of subjects and knowledge to be acquired. Teachers and pupils choose materials and methods. It is crucial that syllabi are interpreted in the school and that pupils are involved in this work. The syllabi also contain goals that describe how pupils can exercise influence over the work at school.
Teaching Methods and Materials
There is no regulation on teaching methods, but the curriculum recommends learning by discovery approaches and the trend is towards more pupil-centred methods, topic-based and interdisciplinary teaching. An example of the current trend is that pupils choose their own tasks and methods within their own individual study plan. In some schools alternative teaching methods such as Montessori and Waldorf are used. The curriculum underlines that interaction between different subjects is important but this regulation is not detailed. Pupils may be taught in groups of the same age or as mixed-age groups. Under the Education Act teachers must be properly qualified to teach their main subjects. Exceptions can be made if qualified staff is not available.
At compulsory level the teachers are free to make their own decisions and choices of teaching material such as books, audio-visual materials, ICT etc. There is no list of compulsory reading materials. The schools purchase teaching material from various publishers and distribute it to pupils free of charge. ICT is used as a tool for all learning and as an aid to develop teaching. Several online tools for teachers are made available free of charge at the website of the Swedish National Agency for Education for those teachers who wish to use them. This includes tools for on-going short-time programmes when the agency has received specific funds for a subject or for the professional development programme the Boost for Teachers (Lärarlyftet).
There is no authority that makes teaching material for the regular compulsory school system, but the National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (Specialpedagogiska skolmyndigheten) develops and produces special needs education teaching materials, primarily for pupils with disabilities. The agency also adapts regular commercial publishers' products to give students with different forms of reading disabilities the possibility to use the materials. The agency has the responsibility for coordinating state support to teaching materials for Special Needs Education.
There are no regulations on the amount of, or the frequency of homework, this is decided locally at each school, or by the teachers.
The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket)