Alexandra Hertz, Customer Relations Manager at Lund University Commissioned Education, feels a great commitment to continuing profession development in relation to newly arrived children and sees several positive effects.
“As a university we have a responsibility to contribute to the development of society. To provide education about reception and bilingualism in primary and lower secondary schools creates increased understanding, and makes things easier for pupils in their social life and future working life. It also benefits the economy and creates a society in which we live together rather than apart.”
The need to educate school staff about reception is not new, but has become more urgent in the wake of the war in Syria. All children living in Sweden have the right to an education of high quality. The content must be adapted to each individual child’s needs and level of knowledge and it is also important for integration in school classes that the newly arrived pupils have the opportunity to progress in the Swedish language and other subjects at the same time.
Since 2014, Lund University has been one of the higher education institutions that offer the course Paths to Learning for New Arrivals, and the only one that arranges it entirely as a distance learning course. It is structured so that schools that are a long distance from the higher education institution offering the course do not have to refrain from participating due to lack of time, financial issues or geography. It also provides national dissemination of the knowledge and tools that will make life easier for newly arrived pupils at school.
“As there is an increased number of newly arrived pupils in all municipalities and school years, all schools ought to be provided with knowledge about the second language perspective and how better conditions can be created for learning. There have been many positive developments concerning reception since I came to Sweden many years ago and I see that as a direct consequence of proven experience and advances in research”, says Maliholsadat Badri, a subject teacher at Brunnsåker School in Halmstad and a participant in the Paths to Learning for New Arrivals course.
In order to drive change, staff apply to the Paths to Learning for New Arrivals course as a school team with three to eight participants. Solutions based on the school’s unique situation are developed through literature and virtual meetings with the course tutor.
“As a teacher you cannot work alone behind closed doors. Learning starts in interaction with others. You become stronger and more secure if there are several of you”, says Maliholsadat Badri. “We read about and respond to other schools’ work concerning reception and, through a combination of discussions and literature, I develop new skills.”
A new course this year is Teaching Newly Arrived Pupils, which was developed when the Swedish National Agency for Education saw there was a need to strengthen certain professional roles. Home language teachers and study supervisors are key people in the reception process and require improved cooperation.