23 SES 16 B, Unpacking Myths of the Nordic Success Story of Education in an Era of Multiple Crises
Background In the early 1990s, the highly regulated and uniform Swedish school system was transformed into one of the most liberal ones in terms of decentralization, choice, competition, and encourage¬ment of private, fully tax-funded schools with a unique possibility of profit-making (Erixon Arreman & Holm, 2011). The aim was to create a ‘stimulating competition’ between public and private schools to improve the effectiveness and quality of the entire education system. After 2000, intense competition between schools over students and vouchers has developed. Nevertheless, Swedish schools are to work in accordance with the long-standing vision and goals of inclusion, equality, and justice in and by a ‘school for all’ (Lundahl et al., 2013); a vision which still characterizes the OECD countries, with relatively small academic and social differences and divisions. Research is, however, sparse on local school actors navigating between the two co-existing sets of disparate and conflicting educational goals and the outcomes of the new policy ensemble in different local contexts. Objective The paper identifies and discusses the local impact of school competition and consequences for professional efforts of inclusion and equality at upper secondary (post-16) level. Theoretical framework The paper uses a policy enactment approach (Ball, Maguire, & Braun, 2012) when analyzing and understanding how competition and difference-driven policies and simultaneous demands of equality and inclusion are interpreted, translated, and reconstructed by staff and students in different local contexts. Methods and data sources The empirical data emanate from two research projects: ‘Upper secondary school as a market’, and ‘Competitive and inclusive? Working in the intersection between social inclusion and marketization in upper secondary school’, funded by Swedish Research Council. Data collection: three extensive surveys, case studies in municipal and private upper secondary schools in varying local contexts, including interviews with principals, teachers, counselors, students, and municipal representatives (altogether 298 individuals, whereof 146 students), and finally observations in schools and school fairs. Results School choice and competition constitute a powerful economic steering mechanism with profound impact on schools’ inner work. All upper secondary schools compete over students, teachers, and reputation, resulting in a difficult planning situation and increased workload. Schools have to address specific groups of students and to construct pedago¬gical identities or ‘brands’, contributing to a homogenization of each schools’ student composition. Staff professional identities change from being pedagogical to more service-oriented. Branding and marketing commonly contradict professional values, taking time and energy from inclusive work.
Ball, S. J., Maguire, M., & Braun, A. (2012). How schools do policy. Policy enactments in secondary schools. London: Routledge. Erixon Arreman, I. and Holm, A-S. (2011). Privatisation of public education? The emergence of independent upper secondary schools in Sweden. Journal of Education Policy, 26(2), 225–243. Lundahl L., Erixon Arreman I., Holm A. & Lundström U. (2013) Educational marketization the Swedish way. Education Inquiry, 4(3), 497–517.
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Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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