Scan Magazine | Special Theme | Swedish Schools Abroad
Ensuring big steps for the future Housed in a villa in the Austrian capital, Svenska Skolan i Wien provides a safe, friendly environment with plenty of opportunity for outdoor play as well as a strong academic future, welcoming Swedish expats and children of other backgrounds for a rich cultural experience. By Linnea Dunne | Photos: Theresa Bentz
“When I go back to Sweden, it always feels like everyone’s stressed all the time. It’s not like that here,” says Susanne Hiort. She is the headteacher at Svenska Skolan i Wien (the Swedish School in Vienna), founded in 1973 to complement local state schools with Swedish language teaching. Since then, the school has grown to include a bilingual nursery for children aged two and up, a pre-school year that will also be available in English from next year, and a primary school for years one to six, following the Swedish curriculum. “We were more of a straight-down Swedish school before, but we’re now starting to profile ourselves as a Scandinavian school,” says Hiort. “We’ve already got children from a wide range of backgrounds, but moving forward we will offer native language classes for other Scandinavian children.” Earlier this year, Vienna was named the best city in the world in the Mercer Quality of Life study. Hiort mentions the good
weather, the stunning nature, a calm pace and safety among the reasons why the Austrian capital is such a great place to live – and the school’s strengths are quite similar. “We’ve got a villa that can take up to 60 pupils, so there’s a familial atmosphere, not like the big institutions,” Hiort explains. With small classes and parents on the board of management, the school often becomes like a second home to many. The school has four pillars underpinning all its work: knowledge, language, culture, and cooperation. The former is ensured thanks to small groups and strong pedagogical principles, as well as staff with relevant qualifications both in the nursery and in the primary school. The language aspect benefits from the school’s bilingual profile and teachers teaching in their native tongue, something evidenced by the fact that students go on to do very well in both Austrian and international secondary schools and that those who return to Sweden have a
smooth transition. Culture and cooperation go hand in hand: parents often bring in traditional food for the children to experience the different cultures of their friends. The school also enthusiastically enjoys all the city has to offer through study visits to research labs and exhibitions as well as outings to events and in the rich nature. “There’s a real sense of security for the children and parents at our school, and that’s also part of our motto: ‘safe children take great steps in life’,” says Hiort.
Svenska Skolan i Wien is approved by both the Swedish Skolverket and the Austrian authorities, so the education is compatible with a range of different options for further study.
For more information, please visit: www.svenskaskolan.at and www.lonneberga.at
Issue 95 | December 2016 | 61