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Sweden: New Law to Permit Suspending Students

(Apr. 17, 2009) Sweden's government is proposing a new law on discipline for school children. The Education Minister, Jan Björklund, has called for reforming the existing law, which became effective in 2006. That law allowed teachers to confiscate items that distracted students and permitted administrators to move disruptive students to other schools, but not to suspend them. The proposal would permit principals to issue suspensions for up to one week at a time, with a maximum of two such suspensions in any one calendar year. Another measure that would be permitted would be the issuing of written warnings to pupils at any age; at present that can only be done in secondary schools. Detentions, now served only after school, could under the proposed legislation be served for an hour before the start of the school day. (“Let Schools Suspend Pupils”: Björklund, THE LOCAL, Apr. 14, 2009, available at

Björklund explained the need for reform, saying that the “current rules are partly too unclear and partly too tame.” (Id.) Commenting on the proposal, Mette Fjelkner, the head of the National Union of Teachers in Sweden, said that the new rules would enable teachers to take steps that were necessary in some cases, but argued that the provisions should not apply to the younger pupils. (Id.)