Practical conditions for Home and Consumer Studies in Swedish compulsory education: a survey study

Authors


Correspondence

Cecilia Lindblom, Department of Food and Nutrition, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden.

E-mail: cecilia.lindblom@kost.umu.se

Abstract

The aim of the study was to map the field of internal and external conditions that Swedish Home and Consumer Studies teachers and pupils have contend with. A questionnaire was constructed and delivered online in November 2010. It contained 27 question covering teacher qualification, quality of premises and equipment, lesson time and collaboration, and the use of national syllabi. A total of 385 persons across the country answered the questionnaire; about 21% of those teaching Home and Consumer Studies in Swedish compulsory school during the school year 2009–2010. These respondents taught in a total of 392 compulsory schools, which equalled about 22% of the schools teaching grades 7–9 in Sweden. Almost a quarter (23%) of the teachers lacked formal training for Home and Consumer Studies. Respondents without an appropriate degree qualification included those trained as nursery school teachers, dietitians and civil engineers. As regards classrooms, while 88% of respondents reported access to fully equipped kitchens with stoves, sinks and work surfaces, 5% used regular classrooms and the remainder were obliged to come up with alternative solutions, such as using portable kitchens in regular classrooms or conducting their lessons in the school restaurant. This study raises many questions about the quality of Home and Consumer Studies provision in a number of schools. The local deficiencies in the nationally decided frame factors for Home and Consumer Studies found by the present study gives us reason to doubt that all pupils achieve the overall learning goals of ‘knowing in practice’ and making informed choices utilizing environmental, economic and health perspectives. This might affect the health and economy of the individuals in the long run, with implications for the national economy and public health. On the basis of these findings, we therefore recommend that current conditions for Home and Consumer Studies and how the subject should operate in schools become a focus for national debate.

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