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Sweden: Quality Evaluations in the Nordic Countries

Conference contribution
Authors Sonja Sheridan
Pia Williams
Susanne Garvis
Published in Nordic Educational Research Conference, 23 - 25 March 2017 in Copenhagen Denmark
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Language en
Subject categories Pedagogy, Pedagogical Work


Research topic/Aim: In this presentation we share a snapshot of findings from a recent ECERSV3 evaluation in Sweden. The purpose of this study is to investigate the factors that influence the quality of Swedish preschools as well as explore a perceived understanding about preschools from preschool teachers, parents and children. In recent years, the OECD (2015) has reported that the quality of Swedish preschools has declined, moving from first place within the OECD countries to now number 3. Much angst has also been reported on increasing group sizes within preschools, high stress amongst preschool teachers, increasing child stress as well as many other issues (Sheridan, et al., 2014; Swedish National Agency for Education, 2016; Williams, et al., 2016). From a quality perspective, group size is closely linked to the conditions for preschool teachers to work professionally and children's opportunities to learn according to the intentions of the curriculum. Methodology/research design: During 2016 we collected data from 130 preschools in Sweden with children aged 3V5 years. Data was analysed with descriptive statistics as well as drawn on Bronfenbrenner ́s theory to examine the variation of available conditions for wellbeing, learning and knowledge formation. Our intention was to explore examples of high quality, mid quality and low quality. Theoretical framework: From a theoretical perspective of quality we discuss the findings in terms of the four interacting dimensions constitute pedagogical quality). The four quality dimensions are derived from a metaVanalytical process of deconstruction and reconstruction of research on quality in preschool (Sheridan, 2007, 2009). Each dimension is constituted by qualities that are unique to that dimension and that can be related to structures, processes, contents and results (Donabedian, 1980; Sheridan, 2009). Depending on how the dimensions interact with one another, learning environments of different quality are created. Thus, from a pedagogical perspective of quality the learning environment in preschool can be seen as a complex system of interplay between policy, people, material resources and pedagogical processes. Expected conclusions/Findings: The results indicate a big variation regarding quality in early education in Swedish preschools. High quality is vulnerably and affected by various factors, which in turn influence the conditions for children's wellbeing and future learning. The study follows the Swedish research council guidelines and ethical rules in social science research. Ethical aspects of the research were taken into consideration, including in particular requirements for confidentiality, consent, information and autonomy, along with the emphasis that participation in the study was voluntary.

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