23 SES 10 A, Policy Reforms and the Regulation of Teachers and Their Work
After a period of deregulation and introduction of market mechanisms in the early 1990s, measures of tighter control in Swedish schools have been imposed. The dismantling of state control of education was infused by neoliberal ideas and different reforms encouraged individual agency and facilitated privatization and competition within the welfare sector. As there has been similar trends in many countries, the reformation of the Swedish school system can be seen as part of an “epidemic” in the OECD (Levin, 1998). But instead of a retreat from the state, new ways strengthen the governance of education have evolved since the end of 1990s and early 2000s (Hudson, 2007).
One of the most efficient ways for the state to intervene in educational settings have been to use law as a regulative tool. A comparison of the old Education Act (1985:1100) with the new Education Act (2010:800) shows a remarkable quantitative expansion of rules, i.e. sections and paragraphs, resulting in a management in detail supervised by an extended school inspection. Consequently, new legal practices have been applied in Swedish schools.
With the emphasis of quality controls, standardized testing and evaluations, Sweden has followed the general pattern in the Nordic countries and Britain (Hudson 2007).
However, with the educational results in focus, the decline of results in international surveys, especially the results in the PISA-surveys, has received enormous publicity and contributed to a general concern that the quality of Swedish schools was insufficient. The decline in results has contributed to a justification for educational reforms (Ringarp 2016).
In order to improve the results, more attention has been paid on the quality of the teachers and their work. In 2011 the Swedish government decided on rules of competence and legitimation for teachers (2011:326) with the aim to increase quality in education and the status of the profession. The reform has been in accordance to the teachers’ trade unions struggle to achieve a professionalization of teachers’ occupation and higher wages.
Two years later another reform also aiming at improved quality and status of teachers, was approved by law, the reform of career services for teachers. In the Memorandum preceding the reform, references were made to Teachers Matter (OECD, 2005), How the World’s Best-Performing School Systems Come Out on Top from McKinsey & Company and Creating Sustainable Teacher Career Pathways pointing at the evidence of the importance of the teacher (Alvunger 2015). In the Swedish context also the need to attract the best students to become teachers was essential (U2012).
The reform of career services for teachers entailed a new category of teachers; the “first teacher”, that after being appointed by the organizer of the school would receive a wage increment on approximately 500 € a month, paid by the state. The reform is regulated by law decided by the government (2013:70). As designed to be directed at the best qualified teachers selected by the principle, up to now the results have been ambiguous. There are examples of first teachers that enjoy legitimacy among their colleagues, but surveys show that a majority does not appreciate the reform, nor the distinction of some colleagues to be more qualified than the others.
In the paper, we will focus on how the reform of career services for teachers has been justified, and how the reform as an example of legal intervention in labor market relations has been received.
Alvunger, D. (2015) Educational leadership in transition: Towards new forms of educational leadership? The local implementation of Förestelärare in Swedish schools. Nordstep, Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy; vol 3: 55-66. Blichner & Molander (2008). Mapping Juridification. European Law Journal; Vol. 14 (1); 36–54. Michael Dobbins & Kerstin Martens (2012) Towards an education approach à la finlandaise? French education policy after PISA, Journal of Education Policy, 27:1, 23-43 Fransson, S (2016). Juridifieringens konsekvenser på skolans område – en översikt av begrepp och principer (Consequences of Juridification Educational Setting – An overview of Concepts and Principles). Utbildning & Demokrati (Education & Democracy); Vol. 25(1); 33–51. Hudson, C. (2007). Governing the Governance of Education: the state strikes back? European Educational Research Journal, 6(3), 266–282 Levin, B. (1998). An Epidemic of Education policy: (what) can we learn from Each Other? Comparative Education, 34, 131–141. Lindblad, S., Lundahl, L., Lindgren, J., Zackari, G. (2002). Educating for the New Sweden? Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 46, 283–303. Nonet, P. & Selcnick, P. (2009.) Toward Responsive Law. Law & Society in Transition. Fourth edition. New Jersey: Transaction Publisher. Ringarp, J. (2016). PISA lends legitimacy: A study of education policy changes in Germany and Sweden after 2000. European Educational Research Journal; Vol. 15(4) 447–461 SFS 2010:800 The Education Act. SFS 2013:70 Förordning om statsbidrag till skolhuvudmän som inrättar karriärsteg för lärare Ordinance on state subsidies for principal organizers that establish career servics for teachers. Teubner, G. (1987). Juridification. Concepts, aspects, limits, solutions. In Teubner (eds) Juridification in social spheres. A Comparative Analysis in the Area of Labor, Corporate, Antitrust and Social Welfare State, p. 3-48. Berlin: Walter De Gruyter. U2012/4904/S Karriärvägar m.m. i fråga om lärare i skolväsendet (career services for teachers in the education system) Memorandum from the Department of Education.
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