Representatives from Plug In took part in an OECD conference in Ireland on the subject of employment and economic growth.
We were asked to hold a workshop on the subject of "Local strategies for youth employment," says Gunnar Anderzon, Project Manager for Plug In at SALAR. In this workshop, Kungsbacka, one of the fifty or so municipalities involved in Plug In, explained how the ambition of trying out new ways of dealing with early school leaving at upper secondary level resulted in a new municipal upper secondary school being opened for the first time since the 1970s.
Beda Hallbergs Upper Secondary School opened this January. It currently has 27 students, all of them young people who were studying at upper secondary school, but dropped out for various reasons. They now have the chance to continue at a smaller school with individually adapted studies. The school management team expects to be fully operational by autumn 2013, when they will also accept students coming directly from lower secondary school. They expect to have a total of 50 students in each year cohort.
Frida Fogelmark, Head Teacher of the newly opened school, explains that they place a lot of focus on learning.
"We work hard to make sure that all students find their own learning style and pace of study. Some study in a slower pace than expected at a regular upper secondary school, others at a high pace, others at a different pace altogether. We start every day with a shared breakfast and plan the day. We then have an inspirational session on a variety of themes. These sessions are not just about acquiring knowledge, but serve an important social function."
A school day at Beda Hallbergs consists of two long study sessions. One before lunch, one after. This is when students study the courses they have chosen for themselves, at the pace they prefer.
"We also feel that it's important to clarify the goals that the students are striving towards and the abilities that we're constantly practising," explains Frida. "Which is why we have a continuous dialogue on the desired status in terms of their individual objectives, and on how we can reach those objectives together."
The idea behind Beda Hallbergs Upper Secondary School is to be a small municipal alternative school that works in a slightly different way.
"We've been given a fantastic opportunity, students and teachers together, to create a school that we believe in," says Frida.
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