On Tuesday, the international TIMSS study was presented, showing improved results in maths and science for pupils in year four and eight, and in maths for students in the last year of upper secondary school's (ages 16-18) science programmes. Afterwards, the government called a special conference to comment on the results.
"Obviously I am happy that this is a positive trend, but still, you have to realise that the Swedish school system has quite a long way to go before we can say that we are satisfied. For instance if you compare to the results in the 1990s, we are still quite a bit behind," said Minister for Upper Secondary School Education, Anna Ekström.
In an interview with Radio Sweden Ekström, who until recently was a non-political director-general of the National Agency for Education, was cautious to attribute the improved results to any particular government policy.
"It is early days yet, so it is much to early to state cause and effect," she said, but she did mention the programme known as 'mattelyftet,' the 'maths lift,' that was introduced in 2012 during the previous government, which has offered extra training and inspiration for primary and secondary school teachers who teach maths. To date, more than three-quarters of Sweden's teachers have been through the training.
Education Minister Gustav Fridolin also mentioned the 'maths lift' and the importance of further education for teachers, but attributed
"No government can take the credit for these results, at the end of the day, it is a proof of the hard work in Swedish schools," he said.
One concern highlighted at the press conference by Fridolin as well as Ekström, is that the Timss study show increased differences in performance between schools.
"It is very much a question how we allocate resources between schools, how we make sure that the most experienced teachers really teach in the schools where they are most needed. And also to make sure that children from different backgrounds meet in schools, that schools are a meeting place for children from diverse backgrounds," she said.