Svendborg Gymnasium is one of the largest Upper Secondary Schools in Denmark with some 1,200 pupils and 120 teachers. The school centers around two academically oriented upper secondary programs:
Both programs prepare pupils for their further academic careers while, at the same time, they develop their personal and general competencies. The programs aim at enhancing the pupils’ independent and analytical skills as well as preparing them to become democratic, socially conscious citizens with a global outlook.
The programs comprise a wide array of both compulsory and optional subjects at different levels. The curriculum and examinations must follow national standards and are subject to external evaluation. Apart from subject-specific oral and written examinations, pupils must also prepare one or two major written assignments.
Admission requirements for STX are nine years of basic school as well as certain subject requirements. For HF, admission requirements are nine years of basic school or the equivalent thereof. STX is for young people aged 16-19, whereas HF attracts young and adult alike.
If you ask the pupils at Svendborg Gymnasium to name one of their headmaster, Jesper Vilbrad’s, characteristic abilities, they will most likely say that he meets the pupils as an equal. At Jesper Vilbrad’s office, the door is always open. This informal and forthcoming attitude is in a way the result of a development, which began in 1872.
In those days, the school was called Svendborg Realskole, and the main principles of the school were discipline, obedience and respect. However, the first manager of the school, Johannes Møller, made the first attempts at changing the teaching procedures in order to place the pupils in the center of attention. Johannes Møller believed in accommodating the amount of homework and the teaching to the needs and abilities of the individual pupil, and he even believed fresh air and exercise might improve learning abilities. His message was that teaching and learning can take place outside the classroom too.
Times may seem to be changing at a slow pace, but in retrospect, the changes appear clearer. From the mid-twentieth century, our school developed its values and the focus was now on dialogue and a sense of community. Learning became a matter of mutual conversation between teachers and pupils, rather than simply learning things by heart.
During the period of financial growth in the 1950s and 60s, the school changed from being an elite institution for a small number of privileged pupils to becoming a youth education program for the broad majority of young people in the Svendborg area. The new methods and theories of learning changed the school too, along with the youth rebellion of the 1960s. Pupils who used to be orthodox in their respect of the teachers began having their own critical opinions about society and voicing them. Pupils were no longer on formal terms with their teachers, and started calling them by their first names. Education was now a common project between teachers and their pupils.
The second part of the twentieth century thus loosened hierarchies and power structures in the schools. Today’s challenge is the dynamic and free way the pupils acquire knowledge and communicate through the internet and social media. Teaching and learning must constantly be redefined, but openness and dialogue remain the core values of our school.
Set up by the school, all councils and committees that deal with matters relating to pupils have representatives chosen by the pupils themselves. Additionally, they have representatives on the school board.
Furthermore, each class elects two pupils to form part of the pupil council which meets once a week. The meetings are led by the two presidents whom the pupils elect themselves. During the council meetings, they discuss all matters concerning the daily life at the school and, subsequently, pupils’ proposals are brought forth in the relevant committees or to the headmaster.
Both pupils and physical education teachers are invited participate in sports in excellent surroundings. At the school, they have access to modern sports facilities. All facilities are spacious and fully equipped to handle a wide variety of activities which includes climbing walls and gyms as well as numerous basketball and volleyball courts.
The facilities are not limited to the obligatory physical education lessons, however. All pupils participate freely in sports activities after school.