Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Children: Swedish Model

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Children: Swedish Model

Article excerpt

The Tories may have turned to Iain Duncan Smith for new thinking on family policy. But for decades the British left has looked to the Nordic countries, Sweden in particular, for inspiration--and with good reason. Sweden excels consistently in education and childcare, coming second out of 21 "rich" countries in a recent Unicef report on child well-being, just behind the Netherlands. Britain came last.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Sweden invests in children from day one. Parents receive 390 days leave on 80 per cent of their salary (subject to a ceiling) and children are guaranteed a place in preschool at 18 months, with monthly fees capped at [pounds sterling]100. Britain provides 39 weeks paid maternity leave and just two weeks paternity leave, while working families are often unable to pay for childcare.

At Tappan pre-school in central Stockholm, children make their own decisions. Those too young to talk place dolls in model rooms to show what they would like to do. "It's very important they feel that they are listened to," says Eva Paajarvi, the pre-school manager.

The Room for Kids, in the heart of Stockholm, is a library, play area and art studio bundled into one. Two thousand adults and children pass through its doors, for free, six days a week. "Every detail has been built from a child's perspective," says Katti Hoflin, the manager. This is most apparent in the library: the books are ordered by association (those on worms near the ground, stars at the top), the shelves double as a play den with built-in hiding places, and in the story-telling room, there is a replica night sky in tiny lights on the ceiling. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.