Fostering global citizens through education and culture
11 October 2023
Photo: David Thompson
The Swedish School in London continues to hold its position as a provider of high-quality education in the UK. Combining the Swedish curriculum with the vibrancy of London, the school focuses on embracing Swedish heritage while simultaneously providing their pupils with the tools necessary to navigate in an increasingly globalised and interconnected society. The Link spoke with Jenny Abrahamsson, Headteacher at the Swedish School in London, to break down the recipe for the schools’ educational success.
Spanning two campuses in Barnes and Kew on the south bank of the Thames in West London, the Swedish School in London is, with its around 250 pupils aged from three to nineteen, one of the largest Swedish Schools abroad. Recently, the school received its fourth consecutive “Outstanding” rating from Ofsted (The UK Government’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills), meaning it has been recognised as Outstanding for the last thirteen years. “Our first aim is to continue to remain as a school which offers outstanding education to our pupils,” says Jenny.
More than just education
“In the over hundred years we have been in operation, our school has been about more than just the education we provide”, says Jenny. Thanks to monthly activities hosted by the parents’ association, as well as participation in other public events and festivals, the Swedish School in London plays a significant role as a community focal point for Swedish families living in the area. In turn, it facilitates a way of living abroad while still maintaining a close contact to home. “Maintaining a connection to Sweden is important because it gives us an indisputable connection to the past, to social values, to beliefs, to customs and to traditions.”
London as an extended classroom
Flying the flag as the only Swedish school in the UK, the Swedish School in London benefits from collaborating with other Swedish Schools in Europe, as they share a lot of similarities. “However, unlike any other Swedish school, we have the added advantage of being located in one of the world’s greatest cities”, says Jenny. In order to get the most of its unique location, the pupils at the Swedish School in London are exposed to a wealth of educational opportunities, including visits to museums, theatres and sporting events. Combining Swedish education with the use of London “as a second classroom” is, according to Jenny, a way to foster connections with both Swedish and British values. “That is why our logo shows a Swedish blue book inside a British red cover – because our pupils benefit from both cultures,” she explains.
Evolving educational environment
The Swedish School in London has evolved significantly since its establishment in 1907. However, it’s not always been an easy street. “Brexit has been rather challenging for the school, in many aspects, from securing teachers, pupils and staff as well as Swedish teaching materials,” Jenny explains. Nonetheless, the school has worked diligently to overcome these obstacles, as well as adapting to the changing needs of its pupils and the society on a global level.
Facilitating global citizenship
Ongoing areas of focus for the Swedish School are inclusiveness, mental health, learning environments and the combination of academic and personal growth in education. Besides this, Jenny stresses the importance of providing their pupils with the tools necessary to navigate in the modern world. By fostering language skills as well as integrating digital technologies and connectivity in day-to-day educational practises, the school continuously strives to prepare its pupils for an increasingly globalised world. “Our vision is to grow global citizens,” says Jenny.