Skolböcker ligger på ett bord. Foto: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Proposal: Limit school choice for new arrivals

1:54 min

Only a small percentage of Swedish schools are taking in the lion's share of new arrivals. Now a new government investigation proposes that municipalities should be allowed to place newly arrived pupils in school without taking their wishes into account in order to improve the distribution of new arrivals in Swedish schools.

The report proposes that municipalities should be allowed to make exceptions to the school choice reform, which allows children to apply to any school they want, and place children in certain schools against their wishes if they believe that it would benefit the student. Each exception would require the municipality to motivate how this would benefit the student and the municipality's reception of refugees.

The report has looked at a number of different models aimed at getting more schools to take in new arrivals and was commissioned by the previous centre-right government.

"We have a situation today where 4 percent of the Swedish schools take in a third of all the newly arrived students. It is unacceptable that some schools on the map still do not take in any when we are experiencing the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War," Minister for Education Gustav Fridolin told newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Today, schools are not allowed to deny students as long as there is room for them, but they are allowed to prioritise applicants based on who has been on the waiting list the longest, who lives closest to the school, if the child has attended pre-school classes at the school, or if the child has siblings in the school.

However, the government appointed investigator, Social Democrat Ebba Östlin, also proposes that a maximum of 5 percent of the places at each school should be set aside for new arrivals so that they would not be affected by the waiting list.

"We make similar exceptions already. If a school is full, they have to prioritise. The only difference now is that we are targeting a group of people to ensure that everyone will have access to a good education and that new arrivals will get the opportunity to attend any school," Östlin tells Swedish Radio News.

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