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The Swedish model of upper secondary education: an analysis of recent reforms and trends of school attendance and dropout
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Special Education. (Lärandemiljöer och didaktisk utveckling)
2015 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The Swedish educational system has been reformed in several waves, adopting policies inspired by the principles of New Public Management (decentralization, standardization, accountability) and with the creation of a school market (voucher, independent schools, free choice). Another reform of the upper-secondary system in the 90-ies had the aim of making secondary education more democratic, reducing the difference between the vocational and the academic programmes, by means of increasing the academic content of the vocational tracks. The upper secondary education has now developed to a differentiated system of options, among which the students are expected to choose, recently including an apprenticeship option. The aim of this paper is to present a review of the Swedish upper secondary system, to identify some contradictions in the policy adopted and to analyze trends that are emerging in research and evaluations. The upper secondary education is free and accessible to all the students. About 4 % of the age group population, having intellectual disability attends though a separate system. The throughput shows that a large share of students (more than 30%) does not achieve the required degree within the expected period. The students lacking the qualifications required for the 18 vocational or academic programmes (about 20% of the age group) are since 2011 enrolled in 5 different introduction programmes (IP). Evaluations of the development of the IP show large differences among providers, difficulties in adapting the organization to the students’ situation, and high degree of need of support among the students. The more comprehensive secondary system with reduced difference between academic and vocational tracks may have contributed to increased dropout among disadvantaged students. The policy of upper secondary education wanting to conciliate goals, of both realizing a democratic and equitable system, and raising efficiency, performance, and the educational standards, seems not to work as expected, while at the same time epidemiological studies show increased rate of anxiety, depression and distress among young people.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
special education, education policy, upper secondary education, educational reform, dropout
National Category
Educational Sciences Pedagogy
Research subject
Special Education; Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-122094OAI: diva2:864157
ECER 2015, Education and Transition, Budapest, 7-11 September 2015.

Symposium: Nordic Educational Programmes to Assure Transition and Prevent Dropout in the Network: Policy Studies and Politics of Education

Available from: 2015-10-26 Created: 2015-10-26 Last updated: 2016-02-09Bibliographically approved

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Allodi Westling, Mara
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