The city of Västerås has 150 000 inhabitants and is situated approximately100 kilometres west of Stockholm. The city provides services to its inhabitants in various fields such as pre-schools, schools, elderly care, social services, sport arenas and other leisure centres, youth activities, infrastructures and environmental planning.
Västerås stad, Barn och utbildningsförvaltning is the school administration of the local authority of the city. The organisation provides and organises pre-schools (4000 children), primary schools (6000 pupils), lower secondary schools (5000 pupils) and upper secondary schools with 16 different national programmes (including programmes that include VET-training, in total 4000 students). over 3000 teachers and pedagogs are helping the children/students to reach their educational goals and preparing them for their future adult life.
The schools are supported by the overall organisation and by the polical committees in their search for development, new compentencies and inspiration from international contacts. The schools and their staff seek inspiration and exchange with their peers in other countries to be able to contribute towards professional personal growth and school development. They are in constant search of additional tools to improve their capacity to actively support their students to fulfil their goals and enable them to lead a good life after school.
The city and the local university, Mälardalens Högskola, are working closely together in several fields such as students education, teacher training and research.
In the city there are several ongoing projects to improve the results of the students. The poor results in mathematics is one of the main concerns and the administration is addressing the need to find new methods and competency development in several ways.
A special development leader for mathematics was appointed ten years ago and she is also the project leader of several local projects within the field. She is also deeply involved in the development of the teaching of mathematics on a national level collaborating with the Swedish National Agency for Education and active in several national networks. The effort is organised by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions and is supporting the development of Mathematics in the Swedish schools. The result of these efforts are so far positive, but there is a need to ensure the sustainability of it.
There is an ongoing four yearlong development and research project with the local university Mälardalens högskola, called “count on Västerås” (Räkna med Västerås). It started up in 2012 and the projects steering group is composed by representatives from the management of Barn- och utbildningsförvaltningen and the management of the research unit for mathematics at the university. The aim of the project is to improve the teaching of mathematics in the class room and to develop tools for planning, carrying out and evaluation of the class room teaching. The two main basis of the teaching are problem solving and formative evaluation, and there is an emphasis on blended learning. The staff involved are partly employed by the city as teachers/mentors and partly by the university as researchers. For the moment three researchers are working in the project and they will also be involved in the TEMP project.
The second big local project is a three year long lifelong learning project financed by the Swedish state, “Mattelyftet” aiming at increasing the students’ goal achievements in mathematics and strengthen the quality of the education. It is based on peer learning and all primary and secondary schools are, or have been, involved in the project.
The students of the secondary schools each have access to a lap-top of their own provided by the city and the teachers have good access to digital tools, but generally they are not used enough to strengthen and develop the teaching. There are special ICT mentors appointed by the administration and they will also be included in the implementation of the TEMP project. There is a need for skills enhancement and the development of new innovative practices. The organisation is therefore now at a point where the next step is to develop the use of ICT in mathematics to support teachers and students, and in doing so enabling the administration to provide an adequate continuous professional training based on blended learning.