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Tutoring Newly Arrived Students in Sweden: A Matter of Trial and Error?
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages. (BUV)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4008-0749
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages. (BUV)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1343-249X
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages. (BUV)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0127-0999
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

General description

This research deals with tutoring in the mother tongue to support newly arrived students in Swedish elementary schools. Although Sweden has received many migrants for a long time, educational policies and organization for these students have been fragmented and poorly developed (Bunar, 2010, 2015; Nilsson, 2013). Students with a 'foreign background' have on average lower school results than pupils with a Swedish background (OECD, 2010; The Swedish National Board of Education, 2016). The proportion of students with 'foreign background' has gradually increased since the beginning of the 1990s. Also, in recent years there has been a marked increase in students who immigrated after school start (7 years of age). Many newly arrived students in Sweden don't obtain grades to continue to upper secondary school after grade 9. The proportion of students in this group increased from 37 percent in 2006 to 50 percent in 2015 (The Swedish National Agency for Education, 2016). These results are especially challenging as it is stated in The Swedish Educational Act that "All children and youths shall have equal access to education". It is further stated that "teaching should be adapted to each pupil's circumstances and needs. It should promote the pupils' further learning and acquisition of knowledge based on pupils' backgrounds, earlier experience, language and knowledge." (The Curriculum for the Compulsory School System, the Preschool Class and the Leisure-time Centre, Lgr 11; cf. Guadalupe, 2013). Thus, the Education Act stipulates that the education provided in each school form and in the recreation centre should be equivalent, regardless of where in the country it is provide. Until recently, the most common way to receive newly arrived students in elementary schooling in Sweden have been introductory classes, with the aim of learning Swedish and getting an introduction into Swedish society (Avery, 2017; Simola & Hansson, 2017). This organization have left students with very heterogeneous backgrounds (language, age, capabilities) in the same classroom, which led to uneven equality and arbitrariness in the education (Bunar 2010; Nilsson & Axelsson, 2013). As a consequence of school results and a growing criticism of education for newly arrived students from professionals and researchers, new rules were introduced in the Education Act concerning the this group on January 1, 2016 (Andersson, Lyrenäs & Sidenhag, 2015; Swedish National Agency for Education, 2016). As it is the responsibility of the municipality to implement and organize education for newly arrive students, the local organization differs widely (Avery, 2017). Thus, several models of organizing education for newly arrived students have been added (Avery 2017) and new models are developed. Currently models of direct inclusion in regular classes with language support from tutors in the newly arrived student's mother tongue is given in the Swedish ordinary classroom seem to increase. However, research on school organization for newly arrived students and their actual support in their local schools are scarce. With this research we want to make a contribution to the ongoing European discussion on how to make education available and with a good quality to all newly arrived students (cf. Avery, 2017; Bukus, 2016; European Commission, 2015; Terhart & von Dewitz, 2017; Torbjørnsen, 2017).

Objectives

The objective of the study is to explore organizational models of receiving and supporting newly arrived students in two Swedish municipalities. The study will provide opinions and perspectives of different supporting models for newly arrived students from headmasters, teachers, student tutors as well as from newly arrived students themselves.

Theoretical framework

Theoretically, our contribution builds on a theory of practice developed by O'Reilly (2012) where external structures as well as internal structures in the researched compulsory schools are taken into account. Practices take place in a perspective or "horizon of action" and involve active agency, communities of practice and conjuncturally-specific external structures (O'Reilly, 2012). The concept of situated learning proposed by Lave and Wenger (1991) is used to analyze how wider structures are both preconditioning and limiting variables for outcomes of action. Also a perspective of culturally responsive teaching inspired by Gay (2010) is of importance when analyzing teaching practices.

Methods/methodology

The project draws on qualitative data from seven elementary school and two reception units. These case studies explore arrangements and organizational models of receiving newly arrived students and their support. The data includes interviews with headmasters, teachers, tutors and newly arrived students as well as ethnographic data from observations.

Expected outcomes/result

The analysis show that elementary schools, even within only two Swedish municipalities, varies widely in their organization and support for newly arrived students. This seems to have a background in the school's history and habit of receiving newly arrived students, in the school's leadership and their interest and knowledge of policies and research in the field as well as opportunities for recruiting competent staff. Several of the schools have altered their organizational models for supporting newly arrived students during the last year (2016-2017), working towards involving student tutors in the mother language to support students in their regular classes. These students' tutors have the task of supporting pupils' knowledge development in different subjects and helping the students to the extent possible to the goals of the education. In order to do so they are supposed to plan together with the class-teachers and the subject matter teachers, an organization that is complex and seems quite difficult to accomplish. Our research show that the student tutors' qualifications vary significantly, their position and status and opportunity for participation in the schools vary, their assignments and awareness of the assignment vary, as well as the teachers understanding of what study supervision is and can be and their will and ability to interact as well as the organizational conditions. Under certain conditions the student tutors' have great potential to work as a significant professional, making a positive difference for new students' chances in the education system, and under other conditions more like an assistant. Student tutors in the mother tongue demonstrate concern for the students' emotional and physical conditions, thus creating a caring climate. However, questions on the tutors' language competency and their knowledge level in subject matter areas can be raised in relation to these arrangements.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bolzano: European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) , 2018.
Keywords [en]
Newly arrived, tutoring, Sweden
National Category
Religious Studies Learning
Research subject
Child and Youth studies; SOCIAL SCIENCE, Educational science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-13392OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-13392DiVA, id: diva2:1277041
Conference
European Conference on Educational Research ECER2018 Bolzano
Available from: 2019-01-09 Created: 2019-01-09 Last updated: 2019-01-09Bibliographically approved

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von Brömssen, KerstinRisenfors, SignildKorp, Helena

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