A school was facing serious difficulties: vandalism was a problem, the school was messy, and the students were unruly.
But when a former soldier took over as principal and decided to install military-style disciple, the difference was significant.
Now, test scores at the school have increased by 20 percentage points in just a few years.
Three years ago when Truls Katsler became the principal of the Ölycke School in the town of Löberöd, Sweden, the military veteran brought a few ideas with him.
He wanted the school to be neat and tidy and he also wanted clear rules, strict discipline, a focused study environment, and a supportive atmosphere.
"We have quite strict rules, but it's important that students understand that we do it because we care about them. Our rules have heart. We're not looking for iron discipline. When the environment quiets down, students thrive—and they perform better, as well," principal Katsler told local newspaper Skånska Dagbladet.
Also new on the agenda, students have assembly outside in the schoolyard every Monday, regardless of the weather. There, students are updated on school news, they're praised for the good things they've done, and they're reprimanded when they need to be.
In addition, principal Katsler banned hats and coats in the classrooms, banned cell phones except for educational purposes, cleaned up drugs—and made schedules clearer and lunches punctual.
"It's okay to make demands, but the terms have to be clear. You can speak in a friendly manner while you're indicating that there's no room for negotiation," principal Katsler says.
The tightened discipline has been successful. Grades have increased by 20 percentage points in just a few years—and the percent of students to graduate from grade nine went from 74 to 95 percent over the past four years.
"The recipe for success is to actually put demands on students and show them that you care," principal Katsler says.
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