School attendance problems in Sweden are not seen as an important parameter to increase quality in schools or our school system. But every child has a right to education! Therefore we seek to change this.
Our mission is to increase the understanding and change the way adults reply to children and young people who think and do differently than we want and hope for. As a result school attendance is one of our main areas.
Our work started as a blog, Prestationsprinsen, in 2010. Consequently, it has during the years since then become
- a nonprofit organization Prestationsprinsen & vänner (P & friends).
- a corporate part that provides schools and municipalities with training, lectures, and consulting, specialized in school attendance problems.
Prestationsprinsen is a game of words. In Sweden we use ”Prestationsprinsessa” (which literally means Achievement Princess), for girls and women who have high ambitions, work too hard and try too hard to please others. In other words, it is a caring term, that implies we need notice and help out. However the term Achievement Prince/Prestationsprinsen (our name) does not exist for men and boys. To clarify, men and boys typically do have a different way of acting out their frustration in the same situations? Therefore they are not seen as much of princes, more obstructive. However, this is not a fair way for us adults to react, but common. Instead we need to look behind the symptoms and solve the underlying problems that cause these reactions.
Prestationsprinsen & vänner supports families struggling with everyday life and school. Firstly we share tips and information on our website (prestationsprinsen.se). Secondly we are present in social media and thirdly we provide “Parents Evenings” with discussions and lectures. In addition we offer coaching to parents. Further more, last fall our founder Aggie Öhman had a book published called Prestationsprinsen. 42 short stories, from our blog, on how to make life easier for our beloved kids.
School Attendance Problems in Sweden
The prevalence of school attendance problems in Sweden are not regularly measured and analyzed. In 2016 our organization found funding to do what our school authorities have not done – a survey of bot excused and non-excused school attendance. In addition we used levels of absence in correlation with what is seen as troublesome in research. Moreover we investigated not only schools, but also our municipalities. Since they have a large responsibility assuring all children’s right to education.
We were co-founders of what we believe was Sweden’s first conference on school attendance problems “Hemmasittardagen” in 2014. To clarify, these days were arranged 2014-2018 and reached out to professionals and parents. This was at the time unique and subsequently contributed to a lot of interesting and fruitful meetings and discussions.
School Attendance Problems in Sweden
We released a report Skolans tomma skolar, containing facts and figures concerning school attendance problems in Sweden in 2016. Importantly, for the first time a survey was done that investigated excused absence in addition to unexcused absence (Our school authorities had only explored unexcused), schools but also municipalities (who have great responsibilities for every child’s right to education) and how SAP are recognized and worked with. We found that 70 000 of the approximately 600 000 students aged 10 to 16 in compulsory school (grundskolan) had an absence of more than 10 percent during the fall of 2015. Of these 18 000 were absent more than 20 percent.
In short we will provide an abstract (in English) of our report om school attendance problems in Sweden, Skolans tomma stolar (the empty chairs of our schools). But you can find information in Swedish here, an abstract (use a translation tool?) and links .
The latest survey of our school authorities was done in 2016. However, it investigated only non-excused absence. In addition they divided the levels of absence in in only two categories: total and all above 5 percent. Omfattande ogiltig frånvaro i Sveriges grundskolor in English Extensive un-excused absence in Swedish compulsory school (concerns age 6-16).
Influence on Education Policy
Prestationsprinsen seeks to influence national education policy. Above all we want school attendance problems in Sweden recognized as an important factor in improving the quality of our schools. Therefore we have meetings with politicians and other stakeholders, arrange seminars, write articles etc. Subsequently we want to see regular national statistics, common definitions, recommended follow-up parameters and levels of attendance, designations etc.
Learnings about School Attendance
In conclusion, our most precious learnings from our work with school attendance problems in Sweden:
- Firstly, it is extremely rare that children do not want to learn and attend school. In other words almost always a substantial part of the problem is that the school situation has become too much. As a result, to work with CBT and other means to get children back to school without bettering the situation often only causes more problems if the bullying is not stopped, the special needs not met, the school is still not inclusive etc.
- Secondly, it is important to work actively with school attendance data and making analysis based on research and other schools’ experiences. Due to this potential school attendance problems can be early detected. In addition it is a successful way of establishing if measures taken are successful, both on an organizational and individual level.