Teachers are always central factors in education policy. However their roles vary depending on how educational matters are decided and managed. Furthermore, teachers’ power and control over their working conditions and teaching may vary in di#erent education systems. Up until the 1980s, Swedish teachers at primary and secondary levels were supposed to act as loyal civil servants in a strongly centralised and regulated education system. State directives were regarded as necessary to guarantee uniform schooling regardless of gender,
socio-economic, cultural and geographic background of the students. From the 1980s and onwards, this picture has changed. Education and governance of education have undergone a rather dramatic transformation, which highly a#ects the work and position of teachers. Today teachers are supposed to be responsible, autonomous professionals, not only teaching and promoting the development of young people but also actively participating in the development of the school and education as such. Not only have the majority of detailed regulations disappeared but the resources — funding and time — to manage the many new assignments and cope with the increasingly heterogenous groups of students have also diminished.
The aim of this report is firstly to compare and contrast two forms of welfare states, i.e. Sweden and Great Britain, and their patterns of educational restructuring and secondly to
discuss their possible consequences for teachers’ work and professional status. The focus is on the Swedish case as this is the country and system that is best known to me. I want to compare it to the British, or perhaps more correctly the English, case in order to highlight both similarities and profound di#erences between the two European countries.
The analysis is based on studies of education policy and teacher work in Europe, Sweden and Great Britain. One of these is the OECD project Attracting, Developing and Retaining
E#ective Teachers (2002-2004), another Education Governance, Social Integration and Exclusion in Europe (EGSIE, 1998-2001) , funded by the European Union. Sweden and Great
Britain were included in both. Moreover, I refer to scientific work analysing and comparing Swedish and British welfare and education (e.g. Kall´os & Lindblad 1994, Whitty et. al. 1998,
Hudson & Lidstr¨om 2002).
In the following section I discuss di#erent international patterns of welfare states and education policy as a basis for the presentation of the Swedish case and the comparison with British conditions.
2006. Vol. 38, no 1, 63-78 p.