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Time to learn, time to develop?: change processes in three schools with weak national time regulation
Umeå University, Faculty of Teacher Education, Department of Child and Youth education, Special Education and Counselling. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2007 (English)In: Pedagogy, Culture & Society, ISSN 1468-1366, E-ISSN 1747-5104, Vol. 15, no 1, 37-54 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article analyses change of time use and time allocation in three schools participating in a Swedish five-year national experiment in which State regulation of teaching time was weakened. Participating schools could freely decide how to use and distribute teaching time. The experiment was launched at a late stage in a 25-year decentralisation process. During this period, the Swedish education system has become one of the most decentralised ones among the OECD countries. Based on a four-year longitudinal study, the initiation and implementation of more goal-oriented and flexible time allocations in the three schools were analysed. When removing the time schedule one would expect schools to change both time allocation and pedagogy. However, in all three schools, change concerned the latter rather than distribution of teaching hours across subjects, pupils and so on. In particular, change was about replacing traditional subject-based teaching by thematic, cross-disciplinary studies and introducing working forms resulting in increased autonomy, but more responsibility on the part of the pupils. It is concluded that the additional weakening of time governance did not have any dramatic effects on initiation and implementation of school development. It primarily resulted in a confirmation, legitimisation and to some extent speeding up of existing change efforts. More generally it led to increased possibilities of information, networking and attention.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge Taylor & Francis , 2007. Vol. 15, no 1, 37-54 p.
Keyword [en]
Sociology of education
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-4984DOI: 10.1080/14681360601162121OAI: diva2:144316
Available from: 2012-04-25 Created: 2006-03-14 Last updated: 2012-04-25Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Tid till förfogande: Förändrad användning och fördelning av undervisningstid i grundskolans senare år?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Tid till förfogande: Förändrad användning och fördelning av undervisningstid i grundskolans senare år?
2006 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Time as a recourse in school : Practising flexible time allocation and time use
Abstract [en]

The Swedish education system has undergone decentralisation and deregulation since the late 1970s. The 1999 parliamentary resolution for a 5-year experiment of increased school autonomy in time allocation, was a late step in this development. Approximately 900 compulsory schools in 79 municipalities no longer had to adhere to the regulation of the national time schedule.

The overall aim of this thesis is to describe and analyse changes of time allocation and time use in schools during the experiment. The analysis has the theories and research by Basil Bernstein and Michael Fullan as the point of departure. Framing and classification, educational change and teachers’ work culture are some of the key concepts. The results from interviews with 32 local directors formed the basis of selection of three participating municipalities and schools in the longitudinal study. The sample included both municipalities participating and some not participating in the experiment. The schools had varying motives for participating, and different initial time allocation strategies and procedures. However, they all shared an ambition to strengthen curriculum and school development. Pupils, teachers and head teachers from three classes and teacher teams in the three schools were interviewed and observed over a period of two years. Documents on time use and policies from the three schools were analysed.

No dramatic changes were observed. Changes rarely meant a redistribution of time between contents/subjects or pupils. Instead they were predominantly about weakened boundaries between subjects and teachers, increased teacher control over the work and giving pupils more influence over their own learning situation. So called open lessons, when pupils were allowed to choose what, where and how to study, cross-disciplinary studies and subject-integrated teamwork facilitated this. A majority of pupils and teachers appreciated the increased freedom and control over their work. Some teachers, however, tended to be more hesitant, pointing to risks of work overload and lowered academic achievement. Both teachers and pupils doubted that all pupils could manage highly autonomous studies, and agreed that some needed more structure and help from the teachers. Teachers in practical and aesthetic subjects were often constrained from engaging in cross-disciplinary studies and teamwork. Having one’s teaching assignment divided between many different classes and even schools, and lack of premises were commonly mentioned obstacles.

Committed head teachers and well-functioning teacher teams were significant factors were commonly in the observed development process. Also, active support from the municipality and network-participation were contributing factors. Attention is drawn to the fact that it is not possible to relate the observed changes exclusively to the time schedule experiment. They were feasible within the existing, flexible frames of the national time schedule. Furthermore, a number of other changes occurred parallel to the experiment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Barn- och ungdomspedagogik, specialpedagogik och vägledning, 2006. 51 p.
Doktorsavhandlingar i pedagogiskt arbete, ISSN 1650-8858 ; 6
School autonomy, time allocation, time use, pupil influence, pupil individualisation, teacher work, change.
National Category
Pedagogical Work
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-724 (URN)91-7264-007-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-04-07, Sal 213h, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2006-03-14 Created: 2006-03-14 Last updated: 2010-02-01Bibliographically approved

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Nyroos, Mikaela
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