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The paradox of parental influence in Danish schools: A Swedish perspective
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2007 (English)In: International Journal about Parents in Education, ISSN 1973-3518, Vol. 1, no 0, 124-131 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article I discuss the boards of compulsory schools in mainly Denmark and Sweden to a less extent where parents are in majority. Questions of interest for my study are: Why is parental interest in being elected to school boards so low? Why do teachers react negatively to questions about school boards? How are the various interests of teachers, pupils, parents and politicians balanced in the actual partnership? What impact do neo-liberalism and marketplace policies have on the participation of parents in schools? All the questions emanate from the paradox that traditional Danish ways of ensuring parental influence no longer seem to work with the current type of school boards. Utilizing concepts from the frame factor theory I explore the consequences of this for school boards. Data collection is designed as case studies and the methods used are interviews, participation in board meetings, school visits and document analysis. The conclusion shows that school boards are complex and even contradictory. Politicians´ aims regarding boards are not clear. Boards cannot be a relevant response to the political threat from private school policy or a general solution to problems of local democracy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Ernape , 2007. Vol. 1, no 0, 124-131 p.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-3083OAI: diva2:141536
Available from: 2008-04-04 Created: 2008-04-04 Last updated: 2012-09-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Lokala styrelser med föräldramajoritet i grundskolan
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Lokala styrelser med föräldramajoritet i grundskolan
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis consists of a thesis for a Licentiate degree (Kristoffersson, 2002. Föräldrainflytande i grundskolan. En studie av nio lokala styrelser med föräldramajoritet i grundskolan. [Parents involvement in compulsory school. A study of nine local boards with parents in majority in compulsory school]) and two articles (Kristoffersson, 2005. Parental involvement: Parents´ new role in Swedish schools; and Kristoffersson, 2007. The paradox of parental influence in Danish schools. A Swedish perspective). In this thesis my interest is particularly governance, management, communication and partnership. The research aimed comprehensively to describe the school boards and discuss the education policy behind the implementation of the boards. An additional aim were to see whose interests favoured in local school boards. I also wanted to study how comparative research in this case can be relevant to Swedish studies of local school boards. I used the frame factor theory, which aids the exploration of the correspondence relations between factors that affect local school boards. Governance and partnership are key concepts applied to the analysis of data. Critical analysis and discussions of these boards from a hermeneutic sign are included, which meant that I tried to understand the boards in their context. I used a case study method. Data were gathered through interviews, observations and analysis of documents (e.g., school board minutes). The results signify that different interests are not adequately balanced on the boards. Communication between the board and the parents not on the board was not satisfactory in many cases and such parents felt excluded from the board’s activity. The principal’s collaboration with the board’s chairperson was an important influence on the board. Evaluation, support and feedback of the board’s activity from the local school authority in the municipality were often neglected. The implementation of the boards related to the transferred welfare policy to more market-oriented political governance. The political governing of the school changed, and was influenced by neo-liberal trends where partnership had become the new prestige word. Parents are today seen as individual consumers in a market, whereas as board members they should make decisions that include all parents. Instead of increased parental influence in the schools, the effect of boards could be increased differences between pupils and between parents. This arose because parents are not a homogenous group. Social, cultural and economic conditions have an influence on parents’ activities. The state implementation of local school boards in Sweden and in many countries is, therefore, complex. This can be seen through the weak interest in the creation of boards, which also can be linked to the top-down character of the reform. This study is an example where global, national and local factors interact.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, 2008. 112 p.
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 0281-6768 ; 86
Local school boards, governance, frame factor theory, case study, parents, partnership.
National Category
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1606 (URN)978-91-7264-515-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-04-25, Humanisthuset, Hörsal E, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2008-04-04 Created: 2008-04-04 Last updated: 2011-04-13Bibliographically approved

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