Children’s experiences: The institutional grip of evaluation in Swedish school-age educare

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Evaluation, School-age educare, Children’s experiences, Institutional thinking, Group interviews


Swedish school-age educare has, in the last 25 years, undergone extensive reforms with revised goals for work in practice and new working conditions. The reforms and changing conditions seem to have challenged practice in terms of quality. Since 2010, instead of programme evaluation for generating knowledge about the expected benefits for children of attending school-age educare, quality and evaluation have been regulated in the Education Act 2010:800(2010) as decentralised, continuous, ongoing systematic quality work led by school leaders and teachers themselves. The aim of this study was to examine the norms and the social order forming evaluation in school-age educare practice, including how staff think institutionally about evaluation, how evaluation is classified and categorised and identifying institutional shadows. The article is built on interviews with 53 staff members in twelve different centres. The interviews were analysed using Mary Douglas’ (1986) theory about how institutions think. The analysis contains a careful reading of interviews through a theoretically informed institutional lens and has resulted in different categories of evaluation in SAEC, as well as the identification of an institutional shadow. Children’s experiences is discussed as the institutional grip and shadowing goals and results in evaluation. Finally, it argues for institutional change.


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How to Cite

Lager, K. (2024). Children’s experiences: The institutional grip of evaluation in Swedish school-age educare. Journal of Childhood, Education & Society, 5(1), 61–71.