Upper secondary schoolUpper secondary education in Sweden has passed through a period of reforms and developments in the last 25 years. In 1970 the then existing different types of schools for theoretical and vocational education at upper secondary level were amalgamated into one school, gymnasieskolan, designed to accommodate all young adults. The final leaving examination of the former gymnasium for university preparatory studies had been abolished two years earlier. During the 1970's and 1980's, a number of measures were taken to improve upper secondary schooling so as to match the needs of the labour market and those of higher education with the wishes and requirements of young people. At the end of the 1980's a reform of the structure of the upper secondary school was initiated, which in 1991 led to major alterations to the 1985 Education Act. A new system of upper secondary education was introduced in the 1992/93 school year and was implemented by the school year 1995/96.
The alterations to compulsory schooling have been accompanied by changes in the curriculum and marking system of the non-compulsory schools.
Since 1st July 1992, municipalities are obliged, under the Education Act, to provide upper secondary schooling for all pupils leaving compulsory school. This applies to all residents up to and including the first six months of the year of their 20th birthday. Over 95% of compulsory school leavers apply for upper secondary school and nearly all of them are accepted.. However, in accordance with a decision by Parliament in Autumn 1993, in order to be eligible for upper secondary school, as of the 1998/99 school year, pupils will be required to have pass grades in Swedish, English and mathematics from the compulsory school.
Most upper secondary school studies take place in school coming under municipal responsibility. Studies in agriculture, forestry, horticulture and certain caring occupations, however, take place in schools run by the county councils (landstinget). All upper secondary schooling is co-educational and provided free of charge. There are also a number of independent (private) upper secondary schools. Upper secondary schools are generally located in larger municipalities and the pupils usually come from several different municipalities. The large upper secondary schools mostly include a variety of study courses and courses. Certain courses, e.g. physical education, are organised for pupils from all over the country.
The number of pupils varies between 300 and 1500. Various types of education within one school can be located to different buildings, and in many places upper secondary education pupils and students in municipal adult education share the same building. Sparsely populated areas have upper secondary schools which collaborate with the senior level of compulsory school and with an upper secondary school in a larger municipality. The number of pupils per class does not usually exceed 30 in theoretical study courses and courses, and 16 in practical vocational ones.
Most of the independent upper secondary schools are found in the major urban areas and there are great variations between them in terms of courses on offer. The average number of pupils in independent upper secondary schools is approximately 100, as compared with about 700 in municipal schools. The school year has the same allocations of time in upper secondary school as those in compulsory school.
SystemIn the new upper secondary school all education is organised in study courses of three years duration. The new vocational courses are designed to confer more thorough knowledge than the pre-reform vocational studies. The pupils are also given increased choice with respect to the content of their own education, as well as greater possibilities to influence the teaching methods and the forms of evaluation. Specialised courses as they exist at present will be abolished.
There are 16 nationally determined programmes, 14 of which are primarily vocationally orientated and two preparing primarily for university studies. Most national courses are divided into branches that are drawn up centrally, municipalities may choose to set up local branches adapted to local needs and conditions.
The educational aims of the national programmes are set out in programme goals. The courses must give a broad basic education within the vocational field as well as providing the foundation for continued studies on completion of the upper secondary school. Pupils who have requirements other than those provided for within the national programmes can opt to follow a specially designed programme, for which the pupil, in co-operation with the school, designs an individual syllabus for the whole period of study. For pupils who are unsure of what to study there can also be individual courses of varying length and content. After having studied in an individual programme the pupil may transfer to one of the national courses, a specially designed programme or apprenticeship training. The third year can be exchanged for a supplementary courses to obtain, for example, skills other than those provided in the programme which a student chose initially.
The apprenticeship training-programme comprises vocational training organised by the employers involved as well as education in the upper secondary school, mainly in core subjects.
All pupils who are entitled to education in a national programme can apply to any school in the country. Municipalities must offer a comprehensive selection of national programmes and admissions capacity for the various courses must be adapted to pupils' preferences. If a municipality is unable to provide all courses, the local authority can enter into agreement to co-operate with other municipalities. Two or several municipalities which together provide education in a national programme constitute a co-operation region for that programme. The national programmes and the national and local branches are to be built up from courses within different areas. A subject syllabus can consist of a number of short courses both within the programme selected as well as from other programmes. Course goals are set out in syllabi which are common to upper secondary schools and municipal adult education.
CurriculumCore subject Min. guaranteed tuition-time per three-year programme in hours: Swedish 200
Sport and health studies 80
Nature studies 30
Religious studies 30
Aesthetic studies 30
In addition to the core subjects, pupils take subjects which are specific to their programme. All pupils are also to carry out a project during their course of studies. In all courses time is set aside for local supplements or practical work connected with subjects, as well as for individual choice to allow pupils to choose additional subjects and courses within the national programmes. The timetables, which are now attached to the Education Act, express in units of 60 minutes the minimum guaranteed teacher or supervisor-led instruction time. This is 2.400 hours for the vocationally oriented programmes and 2.180 hours for academically oriented programmes, over the three years. The local education authority of school decides when different subjects are to be studied and how long the lessons should be.
In the vocationally oriented courses, at least 15% of the pupils' total time is to be spent on training at a place of work. The school will be responsible for procuring such training opportunities and for supervising pupils during this training.
The new common curriculum, with specific objectives set for each type of school, came into effect 1st July 1994. As in the new curriculum for compulsory school, the objectives stated in the curriculum for the non-compulsory schools are of two kinds. The set of basic values are to influence the activities of the school and the demands imposed on pupils and school staff will be set out in six different sections: knowledge; norms and values; pupil responsibility and influence; choice of education - work and civic life; assessment and grades; responsibility of the head teacher.
AssesmentGrades are goal-related and are rewarded on a four-point scale, Fail, Pass, Pass with distinction and Pass with with special distinciton.The student's achievements are related to the goals defined in the syllabus for the course. An upper secondary school leaving certificate is awarded to all pupils after the end of his schooling, summarising the awards obtained for all courses completed.
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