Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 41

Note by Committee Staff on Visit to Denmark[52]: Tuesday 6 to Thursday 8 June 2000

Members: Mr Barry Sheerman (Chairman)

  Dr Evan Harris

  Helen Jones

  Mr Nick St Aubyn

  Specialist Adviser:

  Mrs Rosemary Peacocke

  Committee Staff:

  Mr Liam Laurence Smyth (Clerk), Mr Robert Rees (Committee Specialist)

OUTLINE PROGRAMME

Tuesday 6 June 2000

0.  Briefing by HM Ambassador—not for publication.

  1  Ministry of Education

  2  Ministry of Social Affairs

  3  Ballerup Early Years Teachers Training College

  4  Villa Blide Kindergarten in the woods

  5  Working dinner hosted by Deputy Head of Mission—see guest list

Wednesday 7 June 2000

  6  Peder Lykke School

  7  Galaxen integrated care facility

  8  Royal Danish School of Educational Studies

  9  Charlottebo after-school care centre

  10  Working dinner hosted by First Secretary (Political)—see guest list

Thursday 8 June 2000

  11  Br`ndby Municipality

  12  HC Andersen language centre, Magebo

  13  S'holtskolen pre-school class

  14  Mid-Zealand Efterskole

TUESDAY 6 JUNE 2000

1.  MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

  Helle Beknes—Special Adviser

  1.1  Ms Beknes welcomed the Sub-committee and described the structure and responsibilities of the Danish Ministry of Education. She was in the department dealing with primary and lower secondary education.

  1.2  Although compulsory education did not begin until the age of 7, 98 per cent of Danish children attended non-compulsory pre-school classes. Up to the present time, there had been insufficient political support for lowering the age from which education was compulsory.

  1.3  Pre-school classes had been given a legal basis in 1963, and since 1996 municipalities had been obliged to provide a pre-school class at each school. There were no guidelines for pre-school classes, in which it was expected that children would become accustomed to being in groups and to the routines of school. The Minister could not lay down a required curriculum. The 1,700 Folkeskole (primary and lower secondary schools) were administered by 275 municipalities in a highly decentralised system. Folkeskole were funded by a block grant from the State and by municipal taxes.

  1.4  The use in England of league tables was often cited in Denmark as an undesirable model, but the publication of school performance data remained a delicate subject under discussion.

  1.5  Children were guaranteed a place at their local school. They could attend another school if space was available. About one in eight Danish children attended a "private" school-where parental contributions made up 15 per cent of the total budget, the rest being met by the State. The "private" sector had so far run on a not-for-profit basis. Kindergartens were publicly funded, but with parents paying a small fee per child. The minimum number of pupils required to establish a school could be as low as two dozen.

  1.6  All pupils were expected to take exams in the ninth or tenth grade before going to complete a further three years of school education in a gymnasium, a technical school or some other form of provision. There was no central inspection of schools. Private schools could choose their own inspectors or inspectors from the municipality to ensure that education in Danish, English and Maths were up to standard. The class system was less in evidence in Denmark than in the UK—parents would pay around DKK 600 (£55) a month to attend private schools which ranged from the progressive to the traditional in their outlook.

  1.7  Practitioners in pre-school (Reception) classes had the same qualification as kindergarten teachers and after-school play leaders. These "pedagogues" constituted a profession separate from that of teachers, who would take children from the first grade. Some attempts were being made to integrate pre-school classes with the first grade curriculum, but there was some resistance to this from both teachers and pedagogues.

  1.8  Danish public opinion had been shocked by Denmark's poor performance, particularly in relation to its Nordic partners, in the 1991 international companion of literacy (and, to a lesser extent, mathematics). In 1998, Danish schools in cooperation with the Association of Danish Teachers and the municipalities had entered upon the Folkeskole 2000 programme, which emphasised that a good start provided the best foundation.

  1.9  The main reasons for focussing on early childhood from the point of view of the Ministry of Education were:

    —  the Danish outcome of the IEA Literacy Project;

    —  the rising numbers of children using school leisure time activities;

    —  the trend to bringing municipal administrations together;

    —  a concentration of disruptive pupils in the first grades of formal school;

    —  new knowledge of the learning process;

    —  using economic resources in a more effective way.

  1.10  The school day for younger children lasted 4 hours. After-school leisure time activities were usually provided but had had little connection to what children did during school hours or previously in daycare facilities. The Ministry of Education was concerned to improve coordination and development between the stages of transition experienced by a Danish child from home daycare to kindergarten, to pre-school, to leisure time activities to Folkeskole.

  1.11  Up until recently the prevailing view had been that children should not learn to read before the first grade, but it was becoming more common for small children to be prepared for literacy earlier. Teachers and pedagogues were being encouraged to work together in the first grade and in drawing up common targets and aims for early daycare. The Ministry could provide advice to municipalities on children's literacy outcomes, but comparative performance data were not published.

  1.12  Parents were involved as governors on school boards, which had a parent governor majority with representation from pupils and staff and the school principal as non-voting board members. Parents in Denmark generally resisted any push to achieving literacy earlier, believing that their children deserved a proper childhood. Children generally walked to school, except in the big towns. Leisure time activities were provided for a hour or so before school and for up to six hours after school.

  1.13  Compulsory subjects from the first grade included Danish, Maths/Science, Religion, Physical Education, Music and Arts, with History being compulsory from the third grade. The aims were determined nationally for proficiency areas within each subject. The local curriculum was determined by the municipalities, though the Ministry could assist with the design of the curriculum.

  1.14  Any special needs would be identified in kindergarten from the age of three. It was common for speech therapists to work in kindergartens. The lack of emphasis on formal literacy made it unlikely specific problems such as dyslexia would be noticed in kindergarten.

  1.15  There were some night kindergartens for children of shift workers, but typically both parents would be out at full-time jobs during the day. The six year old child would go to before school leisure activities, then to the pre-school (reception class) than after-school leisure activities, before spending a couple of hours at the end of the day at home between the parents coming back from work and bedtime: The name given by some childhood experts to this sometimes stressful part of the day for tired adults and children was "the time of the wolves."

2.  MINISTRY OF SOCIAL AFFAIRS

  Grete Hansen—Deputy Head of Department, Family & Children Policy

  Ulla Broen

  2.1  The 14 counties in Denmark were responsible for health and social services, secondary schools and physical planning. The 275 municipalities were responsible for primary schools and also for social services and physical planning. Within this complex, decentralised structure there were four distinctive features:

  family-friendly- daycare, parental leave, economic support for families

  consensual approach—an (arguably) female-friendly attitude

  families and children—18 per cent of total social expenditure; relatively high proportion of single parents (usually mothers) accounting for about one third of families with children

  labour market—a high participation by women including mothers increased the need for childcare options

  2.2  The 1998 Social Service Act offered three levels of assistance, with increasing levels of compulsion, to assist families (i) in general (ii) who wanted assistance in (iii) who needed intervention to protect children. Daycare services catering for educational, social development and caring needs were at the same time a general service available to families and part of a strategy for supporting and protecting children. It had been regarded as somewhat provocative to make these objectives explicit in the legislation.

  2.3  Daycare facilities were required to provide a seamless service including:

  social and general skills, physical exercise, exploration of surroundings, imagination and creativity, linguistic development, cultural values, play and learn, participation and responsibility, provision of care

  2.4  Children were not expected to learn to read in daycare centres, even if their parents wanted them to. Children might play with letters and books but there was not a programme for learning to read.

  2.5  Danish as an additional language was provided for children in special daycare facilities. Municipalities were required to provide 15 hours a week of Danish language teaching before the child entered school. Sometimes families chose not to keep their children in institutions for the rest of the day. Integrating children of immigrants and refugees was one of the Ministry's major current concerns.

  2.6  Emphasis was placed on learning outside in the immediate surroundings as well as more extensively in the countryside and woods.

  2.7  Daycare institutions and family daycare took a number of forms:

    creche—six months to two years

    nursery school—three to five years

    after school—six to nine years

    age integrated facilities

    pooled schemes

    supervised family care (childminders)

    one year pre school class (six years)

    free choice (including nannies)

  2.8  The proportions of children in some form of daycare were:

    three to five year olds 91 per cent

    nought to three year olds 64 per cent

    from six months to 17 years 55 per cent

  2.9  Family relatives were rarely used to provide day care except in an emergency until a "proper place" could be found. One of the main political topics responding to parental pressure was reducing the waiting lists for municipally provided childcare places. Municipalities pressed the State for increased funding; for example, to reduce discrimination against children of unemployed people arising from the preference on waiting lists given to working parents. With an overall unemployment rate of five per cent, women's labour market participation rate at 80 per cent was one of the highest in the world.

  2.10  Preference was not normally given to siblings on waiting lists. Not all settings had the option of taking up a place part-time. Parents had to contribute one third of the cost of any daycare scheme, with means-tested assistance available for lower income parents. Benefit payments were taxed at a marginal rate of 30 per cent (compared to 50 per cent for most employees). Unemployment benefit started at 90 per cent of previous salary, up to DKK 2,000 a month. Paying around DKK 2,000 a month as the parental contribution to a full-time daycare place was generally considered to be a fairly high payment. There was considerable variation between municipalities in the standard of provision.

  2.11  Parents complained about waiting lists. There was general support for women who wanted to make a career to make use of the parental leave system. It was generally expected that from the age of six months a child would be in daycare to allow both parents to work. As unemployment had fallen from its higher levels, parental leave was becoming less popular. Parental leave had been seen as a labour market policy to provide at least temporary work opportunities for unemployed people.

  2.12  Childminders were supervised rather than qualified. "Free choice" described a new scheme for a person to come to the parents' home, but without any guarantee of quality. Financial assistance was available from the municipality. [This provision had been added to the legislation at the same time as removing the discrimination against unemployed parents—see paragraph 2.9 above.]

  2.13  Efforts were being made to increase the relatively high proportion of men working with young children. Pedagogues were paid a little less than teachers, but the time taken to train as a pedagogue was comparable with that for teacher training.

  2.14  Daycare was part of an overall strategy of support for families which included cash benefits for birth or adoption, parental leave, child allowances and advance payments by the municipalities to the parent with care of any maintenance owed by the absent parent.

3.  BALLERUP SEMINARIUM

  Anne-Mette Danielsen—International Co-ordinator

  Andrea Sorensen

  Vernon Jones

  Stine Rosen

  Lis Ostergaard

  3.1  Ms Danielsen welcomed the Sub-committee to the Balleru Early Childhood Teachers' College. Over a sandwich lunch, she outlined the principles of training early childhood practitioners ("pedagogues") in the Danish system. The training over 3.5 years with work placements totalling 64 weeks was comparable to teacher training and pedagogues were accorded a degree of esteem in Danish society.

  3.2  Pedagogues worked closely with other professionals such as social workers and speech therapists. Unlike Sweden, however, Denmark had not united the professions of teachers and pedagogues.

  3.3  The Danish tradition of pedagogues was concerned more with social skills than cognitive skills. The approach owed more to Froebel than Montessori; and was founded by the nineteenth century poet and philospher Pastor Grundtvig. This vision of building the Danish nation combined linguistic revival and nationalism with an emphasis on active participation in a civil education to build democracy from the ground up. In a phrase, Grundtvig way was about learning rather than being taught.

  3.4  The aims and goals of the distinctively Danish approach to early years education were based on cultural values of democracy, equality and dialogue. Training pedagogues emphasised a positive attitude to mental health, self esteem, change and innovation and a coherent approach to the development of the whole child. General skills included overall knowledge, practical experience, an action-based approach, skills and experience in co-operation and communication and skills in analysing, compiling and monitoring. Personal skills included independence, creativity, responsibility and open-mindedness.

  3.5  Early years education was seen as a help to parents. It was especially valuable for children for whom Danish was an additional language to be in daycare even if their parents were at home. The long hours spent by children in Danish daycare sessions meant that closer relationships were built up between staff and children then were usually the case in shorter playgroup sessions.

  3.6  Pedagogues required a different range of competences from teachers. Some experience of life after school was preferred before applicants were accepted for training. The pay of pedagogues compared reasonably well to other professions. The ratio of trained to untrained staff varied depending on the setting, but it was typically 2:1, with the untrained post a transitional one for a trainee as a short-term placement.

  3.7  About 11 per cent of pedagogues were men. Ballerup's strength in sports helped to attract applications from men who might later tend to specialise in after-school sports activities for primary school children rather than daycare for very young children.

  A group of four student pedagogues performed in costume a tribute to the Spice Girls' "Stop Right Now."

  3.8  A fairly recent case of sexual abuse of young children by a person in a position of trust had led to some debate in Demark over the protection of children and the role of men in early years education. Since that scandal, there had been some insecurity felt by men working in early years education. In general working with young children was a respected profession in Denmark, and seen as a second best to teaching. It was possible to over-emphasise the value of having men as role models for young children, but perhaps women tended to discourage boisterous behaviour and were more risk averse generally than men in looking after small children.

  3.9  Early years education in Denmark could be seen as parenting on a grand scale, including taking over what some could see as parents' roles in toilet training, table manners and tying shoe laces. The length of a child's day in daycare meant that children spent many sleeping and waking hours with pedagogues. The Danish system emphasised democracy, equality, respect, tolerance, compromise and sharing. These values were reinforced by example and by discussion. The children were stimulated physically, socially and intellectually but there was no attempt to teach academic subjects. Numbers and the alphabet might come up in songs and games. The Danish child was provided with experiences in the big wide world to ensure that they had these experiences, even if their parents were too poor or too busy to take them on outings. The Danish child had no targets to reach in working towards being a social animal by the time it started formal school. The child should experience a start free from stress.

4.  VILLA BLIDE

  Ms Lilian Mogensen

  Ms Jytte Skovby

  Mr Thomas Okesen

  4.1  The Sub-committee joined a group of eight children (two girls, six boys, aged between four and six years) and two adults (Ms Jytte Skouby and Mr Thomas Okesen) at a rendezvous at the end of a suburban road (Fugle-havevej). The Sub-committee walked with the group through the rain back along a path through the wood to the Villa Blide kindergarten.

  4.2  The children were expected to be outside in all weather and rarely expressed a preference to stay indoors. The children were well behaved and responsive to their visitors. They sat down quietly for a mid-afternoon snack of fruit and bread.

  4.3  Ms Lilian Mogensen discussed the kindergarten in the woods with Members of the Sub-committee.

5.  WORKING DINNER HOSTED BY BRITISH DEPUTY AMBASSADOR

  Mrs Vita Bering Pruzan Head of Family Research Unit, National Institute for Social Research (Socialforskningsinstituttet)

  Mr Peter Starck Reuters

  Mrs Carmen Stark

  Mrs Henny Hammershoej President OMEP Danish National Committee, Froebelseminariet, College of Educator Training

  Mr Karsten Hammershoej

  Mrs Jytte Juul Jensen Jydsk Paedagogseminarium

  Mr Ole Langsted

  Mr Jens Iversen Galaxen Daycare Centre

  Mrs Jytte Iversen

  Mr Lars Jacobsen Head of Section, EU Policies, Ministry of Education

Wednesday 7 June 2000

6.  PEDER LYKKE SCHOOL

  Lotte Gotrik—Head of Section for Young Children

  Gutte Larsen—Pedagogue, pre-school (Reception) class

  Jamie Mason—Pedagogue, pre-school (Reception) class

  6.1  Peder Lykke school was a well-maintained single storey neighbourhood comprehensive school for about 750 children aged for six to 16 which had opened in the mid-Seventies. The school year was 200 days. Very few school leavers left to go directly into work. Some took an optional 10th grade, at the school or elsewhere. About 30 per cent went on to a further three years at high school (gymnasium) to prepare for university and others went to colleges or technical schools. The maximum class size was 28. There were four pre-school (Reception) classes with about 25 children in each. The school did not have a specific profile in any particular area. The building was laid out as a number of "houses" linked to the main spine of the building. Each "house" was a cluster of classrooms, leisure areas and staff rooms for groups of grades: Pre-school/Reception and Grades 1 and 2, Grades 3 to 6, and Grades 7 to 9 (and the optional 10th grade).

  6.2  Children moved up the school together as a group. It was very seldom that a child repeated a grade. There was no streaming between classes in a grade nor was there setting for particular subjects. The compulsory subjects in the pre-school (Reception) class were Danish, physical education, art, religion, language and maths (including nature and technology). In addition to these academic subjects, there were also social/development areas to be addressed, including traffic and road safety, vocational guidance ("what do you want to be when you grow up?"), and social education which addressed behavioural problems or other special efforts required. An American system called Step by Step was used to help children to understand other people's feelings. In the community many children's parents had divorced, and the children would have spent much of their time away from parents in childcare. Increasingly there were behavioural problems with pre-school children, and not just those from broken homes. This new phenomenon was being addressed by special efforts to give help in small groups. Where extra resources were required, for example to help a child who used a wheelchair, an application would be made to the school governors.

  6.3  After Danish, English was the second taught language, studied from the fourth grade. French or German would also be studied, from the seventh grade. There were good information and communication technology facilities in a dedicated room in each "house". There was no OFSTED- style external inspection.

  6.4  Teaching in pre-school (Reception) had recently changed with Government encouragement from busy almost all play to more integrated thematic learning preparing for literacy and numeracy. It was a sensitive political question as to why pre-school Reception classes were taught by pedagogues rather than teachers. It was sometimes argued that it would be better for children to start in the pre-school class with teachers who could move with them up into the first and second grades. Teachers were paid about 5 per cent more than pedagogues. Training for pedagogues had become almost as long as the four years for teachers.

  6.5  Although reading was not taught in the pre-school (Reception) classes, there was good preparation for numeracy and literacy. Although specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia might not be picked up at an early stage. Social education included making use of puppets and role-playing to deal with any difficulties children had with aggression, bad language and other problems. Pupils were being taught to be democratic. There was no rewards system, nor were there punishments. The teacher tried to co-operate with parents. A disruptive pupil might be removed from the class to cool down. In some circumstances a child might transfer to another school to try different surroundings, but formal exclusions were extremely rare. Difficult children might be sent for three or four months to camps in the countryside before returning to school.

  6.6  Personal aims were drawn up for each child, including the highly able. Despite strong support from the community in childcare and pre-school education, educational outcomes in Denmark as in the UK were strongly influenced by a child's economic background. It was up to the principal to monitor class teachers who were required to have an annual written plan. In practice, pupils were taught in three or four groups within each class.

  6.7  The Sub-committee saw a rehearsal demonstration in two pre-school Reception classes of a Dutch method of Writing Dance (Skrivedans, by Ragnhild Oussoren-Voors). A group of 17 children (11 girls, six boys) made hand and arm movements to music, first while standing in a circle. Then some of the children used different colours of chalk to make marks on the blackboard, according to the musical cues for movement, which made pictures: a volcano in the rain or an abstract flower pattern.

  6.8  Part of the area in the "house" for pre-school and grades one and two was a communal area for after-school leisure activities.

7.  GALAXEN INTEGRATED CARE FACILITY

  Jens Iversen—Head of Facility

  Winnie Larsen-Jensen—Deputy Major of Copenhagen (Family and Labour Market)

  Eric Christiensen—Director, Copenhagen Municipality (Family and Labour Market).

  Jytte Iversen—Pedagogue

  Gabrielle O'Hagan—Parent

  Gorm Gunnarsson—Parent

  7.1  (See Fact Sheet)

  7.2  The 21 staff (of whom three were men) included people from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland and Bosnia. Quite a few of the 80 children aged from one to six years had Danish as an additional language.

  7.3  Record books were kept for each child, who could dictate captions and stories to go with drawings and photographs. The storyline project encouraged children to write their own fairytales which they dictated on to the computer screen. The child's own fairytale with the illustrations was kept in large storybooks available for others to use. Children enjoyed a sense of achievement from seeing other staff and children reading their stories. Children's stories had also been printed on T-shirts.

  7.4  Another project was to give each child a small lunchbox to collect memories of the summer. After the holiday, each child was encouraged to open their box and to explain the contents to their classmates—photos, tickets, shells, leaves and so on. In this way the child developed public speaking skills.

  7.5  The feedback received from the several different pre-school (Reception) classes to which Galaxen nursery children went was that Galaxen children were secure and confident.

  7.6  The Sub-committee visited the rooms for each age group, and also spoke to the Deputy Mayor and Director from Copenhagen Municipality. Members of the Sub-committee were also photographed and interviewed for a local newspaper.

8.  ROYAL DANISH SCHOOL OF EDUCATIONAL STUDIES

  Hans Vejleskov—Professor and Head of Department for Early Childhood Education

  Stig Brostro­m—Senior Lecturer, Department for Early Childhood Education

  Elizabeth Hansen—Senior Lecturer

  Sven Thyssen—Danish Institute for Educational Research

  8.1  The Royal Danish School of Educational Studies would be merging with other institutions in June 2000 to form the Danish Educational University. The Sub-committee discussed current educational research over a sandwich lunch. The researchers did not claim that Denmark had the best system in the world; they described what they found.

  8.2  As it was becoming more and more common for both parents to be working, there was more interest in integrating the time children spent with pedagogues (three to six years, after school activities after the age of six), and teachers (school from the age of six).

  8.3  It was difficult to persuade leisure time pedagogues that learning could be play. They were afraid of being dominated by teachers and so losing the value of free time activity—or "stealing the young person's childhood."

  8.4  Mr Thyssen said that recent research on children separated from their parents at creche all day had found that there were benefits for the child coming into contact with other children. Other research had found that the attitude of the working mother to being away from her children could have a significant effect on the well-being of the child. For most Danish pre-school children, creche or kindergarten was the usual option, but parental leave and "free choice" could provide an alternative. It would be interesting to research differences in children's attachment patterns. It appeared to be the case that children with a secure parental attachment performed better in childcare settings outside the home than children with more insecure parental attachment.

  8.5  The concept of teaching was resisted by pedagogues if it meant imparting knowledge, but they were more open to the child and practitioner sharing an activity aimed at a desired outcome. Children could deal with reading and writing when it was appropriate for the individual child's development. It was no longer forbidden for children to read before starting school. There was a new willingness to combine literacy with play.

  8.6  There was still too much difference between the pre-school (Reception) class and first grade and between kindergarten and the pre-school (Reception) class. More priority had been given in recent years to improving liaison between pedagogues in kindergarten and pre-school classes. It was becoming more common to keep records of all individual children, and not just those needing specific interventions such as speech therapy. There remained strong resistance to testing and assessment which were seen as running counter to Danish values of equality and democracy.

  8.7  There was some concern that the lack of more structured teaching in the early years tended to penalise children from less academic backgrounds. Hans Vejleskov and Elizabeth Hansen were working on devising a way of testing the quality of children's writing. The poor performance of Danish children in international comparative studies had created a more favourable climate for testing in schools. A new OECD study of 15 year olds' attainment would be carried out within a few months. The danger of teaching to the test was fully recognised.

  8.8  Only two or three pre-schools worked with the American High/Scope method. Such rigid systems were not successful with pedagogues in Denmark. For many years Danish educators had been very sceptical to testing and evaluation and there had been very few investigations of outcomes. Danish researchers had preferred to concentrate on innovation and development work in schools, rather than comparing children taught in different ways. The great Danish educator Grundtvig had taken Great Britain as his inspiration and Danish educators remained closer to the English rather than the French model.

  8.9  University graduates who went into teaching generally did so at gymnasium level. Otherwise teachers and pedagogues followed their separate routes through four years of training as an alternative, not a follow-on, to a university degree in an academic subject.

  8.10  It was now becoming more acceptable to discuss gender differences, whereas until recently only social differences had been measured. A recent newspaper article had stated that women now formed the majority of students in higher education.

9.  CHARLOTTEBO AFTER-SCHOOL CENTRE

  Jannie Christiansen—Deputy Head

  Natascha Gracia—Assistant

  9.1  The Sub-committee visited one of three after-school leisure time centres associated with a neighbourhood comprehensive in Taastrup near Roskilde, about 40km from Copenhagen. About half of the children lived in social housing, and many of them came from immigrant families. The means-tested parental contribution was DKK 640 (£60) a month.

  9.2  The Sub-committee visited several rooms in the centre and outside areas, including a sand pit, a netball court and a kiln. Children could play computer games (Playstation) for 30 minutes at a time, but TV programmes were watched only on special occasions. The centre was open before school (about 40 children came for breakfast) and after school for about 80 children from noon to around 5pm. Some of the staff came from ethnic minorities. Free choice of play was emphasised, with some teaching of group games. The children would be taken on outings and (in winter) to the local swimming pool.

10.  WORKING DINNER HOSTED BY BRITISH EMBASSY

  Mr Stig Lund International Secretary, Association of Early Childhood Teachers (union)

  Mr Thomas Damkjaer Petersen Chairman, Landsforeningen Skole og Samfund (Parents' organisation)

  Ms Lise Skanting Special Adviser (Education), Danish Employer's Federation

  Ms Clare MacCarthy Financial Times Correspondent in Denmark

  Ms Inge Skjoldager National Women's Council

  Ms Sarah Harrison BBC Journalist

Thursday 8 June 2000

11.  BRONDBY MUNICIPALITY

  Kjeld Rasmussen—Mayor

  Eva Roed—Vice Mayor

  Tove Rasmussen—Chief Executive

  Tove Jorgensen—Director of Schools

  11.1  Kjeld Rasmussen had been Mayor of Brondby for 32 years and was one of the best known figures in Danish local government. He had played a leading role in building up Brondby Football Club to be one of the most famous clubs in European football. He had visited the UK several times, often in connection with one of Brondby's twin towns, Washington (Tyne and Wear).

  11.2  Like Washington, Brondby was a post-era New Town. Brondby had grown from 4,000 to 35,000 people over the past half-century and thanks to its software industry it was among the 10 most prosperous municipalities by national income. Social housing had been built to a very high standard and had at one time been too expensive for tenants not on benefit. A large number of foreigners (200 Bosnian families, for example) had come to Brondby. If present trends were to be continued, Danes would be in a minority in Brondby by 2008. New rules had been put in place to prevent over-crowding in flats and a new letting policy, combined with the national annual turnover of leases, should reduce any tendency to create an immigrant ghetto.

  11.3  Foreign children had to learn Danish before first grade of school. They were taught from the time when they were small babies. The Hans Christian Andersen centre used the famous Danish writer's fairytales to help the children learn Danish and also something about the national culture. For example, the children would go on outings to places mentioned in the stories.

  11.4  Brondby had the highest school spending in Denmark. Language teaching was also provided for adult foreigners to help prepare them for the labour market. There had been a debate over special kinds of meat for immigrants, but that was now behind them. The view of the municipal authorities was not racist, but they wanted the foreigners to get to know Danish culture.

  11.5  In addition to its famous football club, Brondby had also been the national cricket champions for the past 19 years. The Municipality had a golf course (only 9 holes, because of objections from environmentalists). The Mayor presented Members of the Sub-committee with the English version of his guide to the royal palaces of Amalienborg in Copenhagen.

12.  HC ANDERSEN LANGUAGE CENTRE

  Eva Roed—Deputy Mayor

  Tove Jorgensen—Director of Schools

  Jens Evald Jorgensen—Head of Centre

  John Wood—Pedagogue

  Leif Jensen—Pedagogue

  Dorte Tostenes—Pedagogue

  12.1  The Sub-committee visited the Sprogcenter (language centre) designed to help foreign children in the early years to learn Danish. Several parents were present in the large playground with sandpit. Some children were performing a puppet show version of a Hans Christian Andersen story.

  12.2  There were cultural differences between Danish and Muslim families' expectations of children. Danish children's autonomy increased as they grew older, but in Muslim families children became more aware of their responsibilities as they entered adolescence. Small children learned to play in Danish and also acquired a sense of what kinds of behaviour were appropriate in the family setting and in kindergarten respectively. Parents various reasons for coming to Denmark usually boiled down to a desire to give their children a better life.

13.  SOHOLTSKOLEN PRE-SCHOOL CLASS

  Lene Krogh Larsen

  13.1  The Sub-committee visited a pre-school (Reception) class and observed children in their normal activities. They were working on a circus project, and several children were designing programmes and copying letters from printed originals. The school was working on greater integration of teachers and pedagogues for the younger children.

14.  MID-ZEALAND EFTERSKOLE

  Niels J'rgen Hansen—Principal

  Suzette Munksgaard—Teacher

  Bodil N'rgaard—Teacher

  14.1  The Efterskole was a distinctively Danish institution which formed part of the Grundtvig philosophy of education as enlightenment for life. More than half of 10th grade students chose to spend a year in one of the 254 residential Efterskoles, which had an average of 87 students taking a year between finishing Folkeskole and going on to the next stage of their education: gymnasium, technical school, college. The purpose was to meet other young people in fellowship. The lessons were similar to State Schools. The 9th and 10th grade, and the pupils took the same final public examinations. Different Efterskole exemplified different values or specialisms—Mid-Zealand had a distinctively Chritian ethos with morning assembly, grace before and after meals and optional church attendance on Sundays. Many children went home at weekends.

  14.2  Not all the teenagers came from broken homes, but some Efterskoles specialised in particular problems. Parents who could afford it were required to pay a contribution of between DKK 1300 and DKK 2000 (£120 to £180) per month. Class sizes were generally small, from 15 to 18. The Sub-committee divided into three groups to tour the school, accompanied by a boy and girl rather than a member of staff. In addition to classroom and 2 person bedrooms, the school had excellent facilities for IT, art, music and metalwork, in addition to a small working farm.

June 2000


52   The expenditure ceiling authorised by the Liaison Committee was £14,641. The estimated total outturn cost of the visit was £6,715. Back


 
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