Public Reforms of Swedish Upper Secondary Education, 1991–2017

Author: Staffan Kling
Institution: University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Author: Iwona Sobis
Institution: University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Year of publication: 2018
Source: Show
Pages: 9-39
DOI Address:
PDF: kie/122/kie12201.pdf

This article focuses on the Swedish reforms of upper secondary schools and their effects during the period of 1991–2017. The reforms were conducted in the spirit of New Public Management (NPM) and generated many more problems than solutions. The purpose of this article is to prepare a foundation for further research by mapping: What do we know about the NPM reforms within the Swedish upper secondary schools? What kind of knowledge is still missing and should it be developed? With the assistance of Roland Almqvist’s (2006) understanding for the NPM movement divided into three theoretical perspectives (marketization, contract management, and decentralization), we propose a literature study.
This study showed that the Swedish reforms of the upper secondary schools contributed to growing social segregation among students, students’ decreasing performance in science, reading and mathematics that proved to be under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average, and teachers experienced a lack of autonomy and de-professionalization. The political promises about “school for all” and “social inclusion” either were not fulfilled or the reform effects were not investigated well enough. Despite all research being done, we do not know what kind of Swedish upper secondary school represents a good practice for the future.


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teachers’ de-professionalization students’ performance segregation decentralization and control contract privatization upper secondary schools public reform competition

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