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How one Whole Education school went Swedish for a week

May 22, 2018

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Julian Grant is the Headteacher at Shevington High School. The school has taken part in the Student Agency In Learning programme, which is a group of schools in the Whole Education network inspired by the Kunskapsskolan principles. Here he reflects on the school’s ‘Swedish week’, which implemented lessons and ideas from Sweden in school for one week, in advance of a wider roll out in 2018/19.

This year at Shevington High School, we started to deliver a KED Inspired curriculum to Year 7 students, that included coaching and working on steps and themes. As a school we had a strategy to immerse ourselves as much as possible into the KED philosophy. We have participated in study visits to several Swedish KED Schools, we hosted 20 exchange students from Kunskapsskolan Enköping in December and then visited them, and one member of staff had the fantastic opportunity to be involved in the Teacher Exchange Program.

After a few days in Kunskapsskolan Enköping, it was quite clear we really needed to trial some of the strategies we had seen there before implementing them fully in September. This is when the concept of Swedish Week came about.

The idea was to introduce some KED influenced practices for a week to see if they worked within our UK context. Susanna Wahlqvist from Kunskapsskolan Enköping came here to support our efforts. We changed the timetable for Year 7 and 8 so they had a workshop session every day. In that time, they had three tasks to complete by the end of the week.

We decided for Swedish week all students would hand in their mobile phones as we had seen it done so successfully in Enköping. It seemed to be one of the biggest challenges of the week.

We put on a Swedish inspired menu in school and staff were encouraged to eat together with students, which reduced the need for the usual supervision. This really made the atmosphere in the canteen so much calmer.

Another thing we tried was to turn the school bells off. We usually have a bell ring every hour to indicate a change of lesson. For Swedish week we had no bells at all. The movement around school was much calmer and relaxed as the students did not exit classes all at the same time. Punctuality was not affected; students were still quick to get to lessons.

 The final but very successful approach adopted during the week was Fika. Every day at break time, we provided tea and coffee plus a range of refreshments, i.e. fika. The purpose was explained to all staff – to get them together and talk about anything other than school.

 Swedish Week was an excellent way to fully embrace the KED principles; most staff participated in the workshop sessions and more students than ever had the opportunity to lead their learning. Now we are excited about planning for September-in fact, Fika Friday is already permanently in place due to the popular demand!

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Julian will be contributing to Whole Education’s session at the Inspiring Leadership Conference 14-15th June. The session, ‘Curriculum development in the current climate: building an entitlement to a fully rounded education’, will be hosted by Whole Education’s Chair, Sir John Dunford. 

To learn more about Whole Education’s SAIL programme, run in association with the KED UK network, visit our website.

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