Swedish-only Policy as response to discipline issues

Richard J Senghas Richard.Senghas at sonoma.edu
Sat Jan 20 11:39:15 UTC 2007

Swedish- only policy for school in southern Swedish town of  
Lanskrona, following recent issues of discipline, lack of control,  
and student bullying.


'Swedish only' at Landskrona school

Published: 20th January 2007 12:05 CET
Online: http://www.thelocal.se/6152/

The principal of Landskrona's Gustav Adolf School is to introduce a  
new policy prohibiting the use of foreign languages on school  
premises. Almost half of the children at the school come from an  
immigrant background.

The rules are to be tightened following the expulsion of 6 pupils and  
the suspension of 22 others from the school in the southern Swedish  

When leftover fireworks from the recent new year's celebrations  
exploded inside the school on Thursday, health and safety  
representative Leif Paulsson ordered the school's immediate closure.

The incident followed reports of boys urinating in girls' shoes, as  
well as repeated bullying and beatings on school premises.

The only exception to the new rule is the teaching of foreign  
languages. Otherwise only Swedish will be tolerated.

"This means that pupils may speak only Swedish in the classroom and  
in the corridors. This applies even when they are speaking to each  

"We are doing this so that others will not be able to think that they  
are saying anything insulting," principal Patrik Helgesson told  
newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad.

The Swedish Children's Ombudsman, Lena Nyberg, is deeply critical of  
the measures.

"As an adult one must try to reach agreement with the children at a  
school before introducing this type of regulation. Disciplinary rules  
always work best where there is consensus," Nyberg told Helsingborgs  

"The situation in Landskrona seems to be one of abdication, whereby  
staff have long since handed over power. Now they are trying to take  
the power back by settinmg the rules unilaterally.

"There is a large dose of discrimination against children who speak a  
different native language. The first thing that strikes me is that  
there are many newly arrived children of refugees in Landskrona who  
have not yet had the time to learn Swedish. Are they supposed to  
avoid saying anything at all during the school day?" she added.

Parents will be notified if a pupil revert to speaking his or her  
first languages. If the pupil continues doing so despite initial  
warnings the parents will be brought to the school for further  
discussion. If this does not solve the problem all parties involved  
will be called to a conference to discuss a potential solution.

Gustav Adolf School is the first to impose the sort of language ban  
suggested recently by two Liberal Party politicians in the nearby  
city of Malmö.

"Some pupils at Gustaf Adolf School have been threatened and harassed  
in the native languages of other pupils, which is why the rules have  
been tightened," said administrative manager Ylva Runnström.

"Only Swedish may be spoken on school grounds. There are already  
rules prohibiting harassment and this is a continuation of those.

"I am going to raise the issue of whether this should also be the  
case in other schools. It is important that we have the same levels  
of tolerance in all our schools," she added.

Ingegärd Milborn, a legal expert at the Swedish National Agency for  
Education, has not heard of similar measures at any other school and  
is uncertain as to the legality of the new regulation.

"The question is whether this can viewed as insulting towards the  
children. Forbidding children from speaking their native language is  
a sensitive matter. The situation is complicated for the school," she  
told Helsingborgs Dagblad.

TT/The Local

The Local © The Local Europe AB 2007
News from Sweden in English

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