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Educates new profession

Published: 22 November 2019

Teacher assistants is a new and increasingly demanded occupational category within the Swedish school. In the past, the group has often been seen as an additional resource intended for simpler work tasks, but a new commissioned education under the leadership of Luleå University of Technology aims at a greater professionalization of the profession.

– The teacher is always responsible for the educational development, but a well-trained teacher's assistant can, in collaboration with the teacher, play an important role in the classroom, says Stina Thunberg, a doctoral student at Luleå University of Technology and teacher of the commissioned education.

Supports teachers and students

For a long time, there are people who work within the school but lack formal education. This professional group has had many different names over the years, but common is that they often work with less qualified tasks. In line with an ever-increasing teacher shortage and new demands on the school, the need for a professional category with supportive function that complements the teaching staff has increased significantly. Part of the solution to this challenge may be teacher assistants who, in collaboration with trained teachers, support teaching. However, for good results a professionalization of the new professional category is required.

– What is often missing is an overall understanding of what the educational work looks like at school and that all employees have a curriculum to follow. With this course, the participants are given a deeper understanding of the school's values and an opportunity to reflect on how we should work in the school. I also think that you become a safer person for the students if you are educated and clear about the role and task of the school, says Stina Thunberg.

Specialization towards integration and special education

The commissioned education is given via Lernia in Piteå, Stockholm and Malmö. More than 100 people participated in the first round and this fall the second of three planned courses are given. Luleå University of Technology is responsible for teaching that concern Swedish as a second language and special education.

– Through a greater knowledge of theories and models for a favorable second language development, the teacher's assistant can provide better support for multilingual students but also facilitate the ongoing work for the teachers. You can also imagine that the teacher's assistant has a better chance of sitting down in peace with a smaller group of students who need extra help with school work, says Stina Thunberg, reflecting on the role of teacher assistants in the classroom.

– Teacher assistants do not rate students and this may cause them to have a different relationship with the students. They become a person who supports the teaching without the students feeling that they value their knowledge. Then you can get a different role in learning that can be very positive. That is where I think this new profession can develop into something very exciting.

The participants in the commissioned education come from all over the country and consist of people who are already employed in the school and people who have not worked in the school before. The only requirement is that the participants have basic qualifications from the upper secondary school.


Stina Thunberg

Thunberg, Stina - Lecturer, PhD Student

Organisation: Swedish and Education, Education and Languages, Department of Health, Education and Technology
Phone: +46 (0)920 493176