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Safe Schools – A Nordic Method for Student Participation and Norm Criticism

Through the Safe schools project, the organisations Likestillingssenteret KUN (NO), Ekvalita (FI), and Elevernas Riksförbund (SE) will develop a joint Nordic method based on norm criticism, in order to create an inclusive and equal school with a focus on increased student participation.

This will be achieved through five distinctive work packages which involve students’ councils, deans and student representatives in secondary schools in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Åland.

Schools should contribute to equality and democracy, according to the curricula of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Åland. We know that norms and the breaching of norms cause some students to be subjected more frequently to offence, bullying, harassment and discrimination. This is sometimes linked to the legally defined discrimination laws concerning gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, ethnicity and disability, but there is also a connection between different forms of oppression. In order to counteract the forms of bullying currently manifesting in Nordic schools, we must address questions about equality, power and norms. The project aims to contribute to this effort.

The project will, in co-operation with students’ councils and student representatives, test and further develop methods that can be applied to promote student participation, as well as the relevance of students’ councils and their impact. Students gain insight into their own rights, and into norm-critical method, and tools to evaluate their own school in relation to, among other things, the

Convention on the Rights of the Child, school legislation, and political goals concerning equal rights. They must themselves define what is useful and relevant to them, and will thereby provide input regarding the working method. The students’ analysis should be discussed with the school management and provide a foundation for practical efforts and further collaboration.

The project is launched in one pilot school in each nation, to develop methods and implement these in twelve schools in total. Based on the experiences from workshops held with the students, discussions with the school deans, and the process of developing and testing the method material, we will also establish guidelines for the school management. The project group is responsible for design and structure, but students are involved to influence the actual contents.

The project will finish with a digital launch, presenting it to the respective target groups; deans, students’ councils and student representatives throughout the Nordic countries. The student representatives will be the ones to continue the work in new settings, and further disseminate the method in their own countries.

Updated 16 January 2023