Swedish boarding schools put under review

All three of Sweden's national boarding schools -- Lundsberg, Grennaskolan and Sigtuna humanistiska läroverk -- will be investigated by the Schools Inspectorate (Skolverket) after reports of systematic bullying and violence between students at two of them.

”It is uncommon that we receive reports of such a serious nature. It indicates a system which allows for degrading behaviour and where adults are choosing not to see what is going on,” said Carina Abréu of the Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) to daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

The probe into Lundsberg is based on several reports of systematic bullying in the dormitories, where the older students treat the younger as ”slaves”, and use physical violence to retain their power.

When the second school, Grennaskolan, was reported, the agency decided it was prudent to look at Sigtuna as well, alma mater to King Carl XVI Gustaf, although no reports have so far been filed about that school.

”Not to my knowledge at least,” said Abréu to news agency TT

According to Abréu, several people connected to Lundsberg got in touch with the agency over the course of Wednesday and Thursday after the first reports about the school became public.

”There are many who want to share their stories. But they want to stay anonymous, as they are frightened. That in itself is worrying. It shouldn’t be that way. You shouldn’t have attended a school and then be scared of talking about it,” said Abréu.

According to SvD, one of the teachers who filed a first report against Lundsberg was asked to leave the school after the principal received complaints from students and parents about his ”newfangled ideas”.

His colleague chose to leave the school’s employ at the same time.

Mats Almlöw, head of school Grennaskolan, welcomed the agency’s decision to investigate all three boarding schools.

”I can’t speak for the other schools but here bullying and ‘peer education’ is not allowed. However, even if we work pro-actively against this, things could still happen. We have 126 students between the ages 14 and 19, living in six different dormitories. And the same controversies that erupt in an ordinary home can occur here,” said Almlöw to TT.

Grennaskolan reported a case of to the police themselves earlier in the spring, according to Almlöw.

”When something happens that is not acceptable we will report it. I have no hesitations when it comes to that. If anyone has been hit, it is a case for the police,” he said.

The victimized student and one of the three reported have so far changed school and the case is being handled by the Swedish Child-and-Student Ombudsman (Barn- och elevombudet, BEO) and the police.

Almlöw has been with Grennaskolan for the last five years and says that he has not been aware of any widespread bullying during his time there.

But according to the agency, the report against the school is serious.

”It is serious allegations of bullying behaviour that has been going on for quite some time,” said Anne Terdén from the Schools Inspectorate to TT .

During November, she visited both Grennaskolan and Sigtuna humanistiska läroverk, where the principals, teachers, as well as general staff were interviewed and students were asked to answer questions in a survey.

”We focused on what the core values of the school are and how they deal with bullying,” she said.

Terdén won’t say anything about the result of the investigation before the report has been completed. So far, the agency hasn’t filed a report to the police with regards to Grennaskolan.

The three Swedish boarding schools get their permits from the government and are separate from other independent schools in Sweden.

That means that the agency doesn’t have the right to revoke their permit, which it could in the case of other independent schools in the country.

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Half of Viking city of Sigtuna were immigrants: study

No fewer than half the population of the Viking town of Sigtuna were immigrants, a new genetic analysis of human remains from the 10th to the 12th century has discovered.

Half of Viking city of Sigtuna were immigrants: study
An 11th century skeleton found in Sigtuna. Photo: Stockholm University
While rough half of the 38 people whose bones and teeth were genetically tested grew up in or around the nearby Lake Mälaren area, the other half came from as far away as Ukraine, Lithuania, northern Germany, the British Isles, and parts of central Europe, as well as from southern Sweden, Norway and Denmark. 
“It was a sort of Viking Age Scandinavian Shanghai or London,” Anders Götherström, Professor of Molecular Archeology at Stockholm University, told the TT newswire. “Anyone who wanted to do something, to work their way up in the church or in politics were first forced to come to Sigtuna.” 
Now a picturesque lakeside town with a well-known private boarding school, Sigtuna was one of Sweden’s first cities, founded in 980AD by the country’s first Christian king Olof Skötkonung. 
It soon grew into a major settlement of around 10,000 people, roughly the same population as Anglo-Saxon London. 
The study, the largest of its kind so far carried out in Sweden, combined DNA analysis and strontium analysis of teeth to build a detailed picture of where the people had come from. 
The results have been published in an article in Current Biology,  Genomic and Strontium Isotope Variation Reveal Immigration Patterns in a Viking Age Town
Maja Krzewinska, the researcher at Stockholm University who was the study's primary author, said that it showed that Vikings had not only been emigrants and invaders. 
“We're used to thinking of the Vikings as a travelling kind, and can easily picture the school books with maps and arrows pointing out from Scandinavia, as far as Turkey and America, but not so much in the other direction,” she said in a press release issued by the university. 
The project is part of the ATLAS-project which plans to use ‘deep-sequence analysis’ to shine light on the demographic history of Sweden. 
“I especially like that we find second-generation immigrants among the buried,” Götherström, one of the project’s leaders, said in the release. “That kind of migratory information has never been encountered before as far as I know.” 
The study found that approximately 70 per cent of the female population were immigrants, and about 44 per cent of the men.
Götherström told TT that the Atlas project underlined the fact that, genetically, there was no such thing as an ethnic Swede. 
“The Swede doesn't exist genetically,” he said, “We've pieced ourselves together from parts taken from the whole world, and the more we study this genetically, the more we see that people have been moving around the place the whole time.”