Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


Swedish Experience Positive for School Choice


Swedish Experience Positive for School Choice

Recent research from Sweden shows that the competition provided by independent schools improves the performance of the local state run schools, says Joy Quigley, Executive Director of Independent Schools of New Zealand.

In 1992 changes in Sweden’s law allowed for the development of independent schools, including those run for profit, that are funded in the same way as state run schools.

Prior to that only a few government-approved independent schools received state financing. The last decade has allowed sufficient time for the establishment of a significant number of schools and for some useful analysis to be undertaken.

The number of students in independent schools has more than quadrupled over the decade and the number of independent schools has increased more than five fold. Yet no one has been able to show that it has had any negative consequences for the public schools. On the contrary all evidence to date indicates that the public (state) schools have improved as a result of having competition says a report by researchers Fredrik Bergström and F. Michael Sandström.

As in New Zealand there has been much debate around the impact of increasing school choice on the local state school. Opponents of more choice argue that the best students and teachers would transfer to independent schools, with a negative consequence for the quality of state run schools. Another argument is that tax revenue is being used to pay for independent (private) schools for children with rich parents. The Swedish experience reports that in practice there is very little to indicate that children of high-income earners would choose independent schools to a greater extent than low-income earners. On the contrary, the school voucher system had rendered it possible for large groups in society to enjoy the same freedom of choice that was heretofore granted only to a few.

Bergström and Sandström were aware that their research would be very critically evaluated and as a result tested a total of more than 20,000 different variations of their model to ensure they could stand by their conclusions.

The recurring tendency within their modelling is that competition contributes to a positive development of the local state run school.

As in New Zealand the number of students attending independent schools in Sweden still remains small, with approximately 4% of primary school children and 5.6% of upper secondary school pupils educated outside the state system. This compares with about 3.7% in New Zealand overall. But the rapid increase since the change in the law reflects parental desire to choose a school that best meets the educational needs of their child. Previously school fees prohibited them from being able to make that choice.

In the last decade the number of independent schools in Sweden has risen from 122 to 637, or about 10% of the total number of all schools. Another 316 applications to start new schools were received for the 2003/4 scholastic year. Recent experience suggests about 100 of these will result in a new school in the next twelve months.

Many of the new schools in Sweden are specialist or pedagogy based (eg Montessori or Steiner) and there are fewer new religious based schools, whereas many of the new independent Christian schools in New Zealand are less than ten years old. Montessori and Steiner schools have been common in New Zealand for several decades and many of them have integrated into the state system in order to remain financially viable. Swedish law allows these schools to retain their independence because they are now funded the same as state schools.

Seven of the eight political parties in Sweden support the current arrangement which funds independent schools in the same way as state run schools. At the last election in New Zealand the majority of political parties indicated their support of choice in education.

Many in this country see Sweden as a model for New Zealand. With sound research showing that the performance of the local state run school improves with the provision of equal funding to independent schools perhaps it is timely for our Government to investigate how the Swedish system operates, said Joy Quigley.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

NZ On Air TV Funding: More Comedy Comes Out Of The Shadows

Paranormal Event Response Unit is a series conceived by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi as a TV spin-off from their highly acclaimed feature film What We Do In The Shadows. More>>

ALSO:

Mars News: Winners Announced For The 2016 Apra Silver Scroll Awards

Wellington singer-songwriter and internationally acclaimed musician Thomas Oliver has won the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll Award with his captivating love song ‘If I Move To Mars’. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: Salt River Songs by Sam Hunt

Colin Hogg, a longtime comrade of Sam, writes in his Introduction that, ‘There is a lot of death in this collection of new poems by my friend Sam Hunt. It’s easier to count the poems here that don’t deal with the great destroyer than it is to point to the ones that do.’ More>>

Electronica: Restoring The World’s First Recorded Computer Music

University of Canterbury Distinguished Professor Jack Copeland and UC alumni and composer Jason Long have restored the earliest known recording of computer-generated music, created more than 65 years ago using programming techniques devised by Alan Turing. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: Almost Getting Away With Murder

The Black Widow by Lee-Anne Cartier: Lee-Anne Cartier is the sister of the Christchurch man found to have been murdered by his wife, Helen Milner, after an initial assumption by police that his death, in 2009, was suicide. More>>

Howard Davis: Triple Echo - The Malevich/Reinhardt/Hotere Nexus

Howard Davis: The current juxtaposition of works by Ralph Hotere and Ad Reinhardt at Te Papa perfectly exemplifies Jean Michel Massing's preoccupation with the transmigration of imagery in a remarkable triple echo effect... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news