The Sleep-Deprived Generation

boarding school conference, York

Today, feeling the snow, wind and cold, it is hard to believe that spring in on its way to Sigtuna. It brings to mind the plaintiff voice of the Romantic poet Percy Shelley: “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” Here winter has come and gone, but keeps coming back again and again. By the weekend, however we should have seen the last of night frost. Being optimists, we are hoping that our graduating students will get the best of the Swedish spring sunshine on May 24 to celebrate a glorious final day at SSHL.

I have just come back from attending the BSA (Boarding Schools’ Association) Heads Conference in York, UK. It’s truly inspiring to meet so many other schools that provide a first-class boarding experience for young people around the world. We come together to share ideas and experiences and, working together in a supportive environment, help to make boarding schools better.

One thing we all share as members of the BSA is a clear commitment to enriching the lives of the young people that come through our schools, providing each and every pupil the support and encouragement to develop and grow as individuals.

It was very clear to me that some of the top international boarding schools are not just admitting students from privileged homes to a first class education, some are now also cooperating with organisations like The Spring Board Bursary Foundation to provide opportunities for underprivileged young people from the inner cities. Pupils come from all walks of life and aren’t necessarily the brightest, but share a common desire to work hard and develop. This is an excellent initiative that is sure to increase social mobility.

Meeting the Challenge of Social Media

One of the main topics addressed at the conference was the concern amongst educationalists about the negative effect of social media on young people. Studies show that mental health issues are directly linked to the use of smart phones and social media channels.

Prof. Tanya Byron was invited to the conference to share her vast experience with working with mental health care and young people. Her keynote was one of the most informative and inspiring talks I listened to and gave me much to think about when it comes to the challenges facing young people.

Byron spoke at length about the so-called “sleep-deprived generation”: young people connected to net (and social media!) virtually 24/7. Byron spoke about studies that suggest it’s common for many young people to wake up in the middle of the night to reply to a text message, Snapchat or some other kind of notification from many of the other social media channels. Others sit up late into the night online gaming, for example, with friends all over the world in different time zones.

Tanya Byron is very clear that sleep deprivation and access to social media channels without some form of supervision and support has a very negative effect on young people. Clinicians are seeing a drastic increase in mental health issues which they link directly to the use of smartphones and the internet.

It is clear to me that we as adults must take responsibility in ensuring young people are better equipped to handle this situation. We need to be aware how our children are using social media. We need to ensure that they are getting undisturbed sleep so they are ready to tackle the challenges of daily life. Sleep is important to their well-being.

Furthermore, we also need to be careful that our young people are not being negatively affected by social media in other ways. There is considerable peer pressure and educationalists are clearly concerned that young people’s mental health is jeopardised by some of the attitudes and behaviours we see online.

I don’t have all the answers to this but, like many colleagues working in educational management across the world, I am determined that at SSHL we address how the internet and social media in particular are impacting the lives of our pupils. I encourage you as parents to discuss social media usage with your children. Get more insight into how they are using it. Hopefully, we can help provide a secure and safe platform together for our young people to get the most out of digital communications without suffering any negative effects.

University of Cambridge at SSHL

Many thanks to Richard Partington and Caroline Burt from the University of Cambridge for once again visiting SSHL to talk about studying at Cambridge. Gradängsalen was packed with students who came along to listen and learn more. Quite a few of them took the chance to talk with Richard and Caroline in Café Humlan afterwards. Fantastic!


It’s not long now until this year’s Studenten. Once change that you might notice next time you visit the school is that we’ve recently installed an iron fence on the wall where students traditionally stand and celebrate after running out. This hasn’t been done to curb traditions. It’s still possible to stand there! However, there is now a safety rail to hold onto!

Dr Margret Benedikz
Director, SSHL

NB: This post is only available in English

School Director Margret Benedikz writes…

I was in London a couple of week’s ago along with Eddy Johansson (principal) as we were hosting a Friends of SSHL reception, together with the SSHL Alumni Association for alumni and parents living in the UK. The reception was held at Aquavit restaurant with the generous support of Coralie & Philip Hamilton. Many thanks to Marika Wäreborn for organising the event together with Caroline Lindahl.

Close to thirty people attended the reception, and Eddy and I had a chance to give everyone an update on the exciting things that are happening at SSHL. The school is continually developing and it’s important for us to keep our community up-to-date. Meeting up with friends of SSHL is not just a wonderful social occasion; it is also a great way of letting everyone know about the work that’s being done at SSHL. Parents and alumni play an important part in helping to spread the word about our school which in turn helps attract new students.

It was tremendous to meet so many friends and feel the strong support for the school and our community. We look forward to returning to London next year!

Germany, Dubai and Abu Dhabi and lots of interest in SSHL

Eddy Johansson was in Munich last week talking about SSHL whilst two house parents, Johanna Flink and Ola Olsson, are currently in Dubai. Many thanks to everyone who made this possible. We’re very grateful to the help and support we get from expat Swedish communities around the world. This, along with the marketing work we do, is really helping us to get the word out about education in Sweden and this in turn helps attract more potential students. We find that offering the opportunity to try boarding (”provbo”) is a great way for young people to see whether boarding at SSHL is the right option for them.

This year we’ve had to introduce an extra (4th!) weekend to accommodate the considerable interest in the school. The next group of potential students arrive March 23 and we look forward to welcoming them to the school. I am sure everyone at SSHL will make them most welcome.

Heading to Singapore & Japan

I will be speaking in Singapore and Japan before Easter about bilingualism. As I meet Swedish families around the world, it’s striking just how international both SSHL and Sweden is becoming. More and more of our students have strong ties to countries outside of Sweden, and as Sweden and the world changes, and with many of us embracing internationalism, it strengthens my belief in the work we are doing at the school. Our ethos, our status as an IB World School, as well as international school status within the Swedish education system, reflects the way in which SSHL is very much a school with an eye to what is happening globally in education. We are preparing our young people to not only prosper as they follow their chosen paths, but also go out and make a difference in the world. In the time that I have been at SSHL I have seen more and more interest in our international programmes. Clearly, no matter what is happening in the world, our young people are embracing the freedom of working within a global economy.

School Inspection

We were very pleased to welcome inspectors from the National Agency for Education in Sweden – Skolverket – to SSHL this week. They’ve been meeting with students and teachers, watching lessons and getting a real sense of what we’re doing here. The inspection is in line with the National Agency’s commitment to ensuring the quality of education at SSHL, just as other schools.

Parents Day

Saturday will see us welcoming parents to the spring term Parents Day on. It’s a wonderful chance for you as parents to meet with your children’s teachers and keep up with what is happening at the school. I hope to see as many of you as possible, whether during the day itself or at the Parents Association Dinner at Sigtuna Stiftelsen in the evening. Remember, there are two performances of this year’s drama production on in the afternoon. I hope you will make time to come and see the work the students have put in. Your support is greatly appreciated. You will find a full overview of the day’s programme here.

Very best wishes,
Margret Benedikz, Director

This post is only available in English

God jul och gott nytt år

Nu när julen närmar sig har vi haft nöjet att delta i flera underbara evenemang här på skolan. Terminsavslutningen var magisk. Jag kan inte låta bli att älska traditionen med att tända ett ljus för varje elev och medarbetare över hela skolområdet. När ljusen glittrar i mörkret, lyser skolan över hela Sigtuna.

Det var inte bara terminsavslutningen som förde oss samman. Julspexet var mycket roligt, och det var härligt att fira elevernas akademiska och idrottsliga framgångar förrförra veckan.

För mig är höjdpunkten av julfirandet på SSHL, som alltid, lucia i Mariakyrkan. Det är en sannerligen fantastisk händelse som verkligen sammanför oss här på skolan omslutna av skenet från levande ljus. Detta var ett privilegium och en glädje att skåda, och att döma av kommentarerna från de föräldrar som var där, så var det hela mycket lyckat. Tre saker slog mig mest av allt: antalet elever som deltar, deras entusiasm och glädje och kanske viktigast av allt, deras vilja att uppträda inför en publik tillsammans med sina vänner. För mig är denna entusiasm, detta engagemang och denna vilja själva kärnan i vår skola; det är också ett utmärkt sätt att stärka självförtroendet hos många.

Om ni inte har besökt vår Facebook-sida ännu och därmed missat de underbara bilder som Ville och Jon tog, så rekommenderar jag er att ta en titt där.

Tack till alla inblandade för denna framgång!

En mer tråkig nyhet är att vi fick ta farväl av rektor Johan Norvell på terminsavslutningen. Johan har varit hos oss på SSHL i 13 år och har gjort enorma bidrag till SSHL, både som lärare och medlem i ledningsgruppen.

Johan håller hög standard, säger vad han menar och är extremt lojal. Allt Johan har gjort har motiverats av målsättningen att hjälpa elever och att göra SSHL till en enastående skola. Så godhjärtad, vänlig, rolig och omtänksam som Johan är kommer han att saknas av både elever och personal och vi önskar honom all framgång på Bromma Gymnasium.

Nästa termin börjar måndagen den 9 januari på vanlig tid; internatelever ska återvända på eftermiddagen dagen innan.

Jag avslutar med att tacka er alla för ert stöd till SSHL denna termin och önskar just Dig en mycket god jul.

Margret Benedikz
Skolchef, SSHL

Working With & For the IB

katrin fox IB

School Director Margret Benedikz talks to Katrin Fox, Diploma Programme School Services Manager AEM at The International Baccalaureate.

Margret caught up with Katrin at the IB Conference Team 2016 AEM Regional Conference, which took place in Barcelona.

Margret asks Katrin about the IB and just what makes it special.

IB Dip Programme

Discover why the IB is great preparation for university!

Life on the IB Diploma Programme

How is the IB Diploma programme

On this week’s podcast School Director Margret Benedikz talks to Beata Ankarcrona and Sara Svensson, who are both in the first year of the IB Diploma Programme at Sigtunaskolan Humanistiska Läroverket.

Margret talks to the girls about their choice of programme, the subjects they’re taking and the exciting CAS project they’ve just started work on.

The show gives listeners an idea of what it’s like to make the transition to the IB. If you haven’t taken the IB MYP at secondary school, you’ll get an insight into the set-up of the course and the kind of work involved. Beata and Sara also share their insight into what life is like at an internationally-minded school in Sweden.

Many thanks to Beata and Sara for taking the time to talk to Margret.

Team-building at 1,797 meters above sea level with SSHL

Last week our third years headed to the highlands for five days to explore what lies at the very heart of Swedish culture: nature.

The annual trip to the north of Sweden for “third ringers” is an important part of their time with us. We strongly believe young people should experience the many sides of Sweden and that includes the countryside. After all, so much of our culture and many of our traditions are tied to the land.

For some of the students this will have been their first experience of the highlands, and I am sure they will remember the time they have spent together, the challenges they have faced. And this will have been a real chance for boarders and day pupils to build even stronger friendships. There’s something special about going away together and hiking.

Studying at school, whether it’s a boarding school or a day school, isn’t just about the challenges of the classroom, of studying a range of subjects. It’s also about the challenges of working together and spending time together in the great outdoors.

Learning can and should happen outside the classroom. After all, once our students graduate and go on to university and beyond, more and more of their learning will occur in real-world scenarios.

Academic Saturday on the Horizon

Although study trips are without a doubt an important part of the SSHL experience, the academic support weekends that were introduced last year are continuing this year. We received lots of positive feedback last year for these days and I believe it really shows what a great asset it is to have the House Tutors available for boarders.

For those of you new to the school (or perhaps considering applying to board at SSHL), Academic Saturdays (or Sundays) are scheduled throughout the school year and are mandatory for boarding students.

The day starts off with brunch and a House quiz and after that House tutors offer a range of workshops for subjects such as maths, philosophy, etc. There’s also time for individual study.

I worked at university for many years and I think this kind of day really helps prepare our students – not just for academic success in their study programmes at SSHL but also university life. Once they go off to university there isn’t the same kind of academic support like there is at school so learning to work on weekends from time to time and really put that extra work in will benefit them in the long run.

Many Thanks

Finally, thank you to everyone who expressed their support and encouragement after we were recently featured in the media. The press coverage reminded all of us, especially students, that their actions are of interest to the rest of the country and affect those around them. High-spirits, mucking about, call it what you will: this incident was a reminder to students that their behaviour can have an impact on their personal and school reputations.

As a boarding school we all come under intense scrutiny: boarders, day pupils, and staff. We have introduced many measures in the last three years and continue to see how we can improve. The management team at SSHL and I welcome the scrutiny that we face; it ensures we never rest on our laurels, and strive to make SSHL an outstanding and highly-regarded school, not just in Sweden but abroad.

Very best wishes,
Margret Benedikz, Director

God Jul, Merry Christmas

Dear Students, Parents and Friends of SSHL,

As I sit down to write this, just a few hours away from Christmas, I’m still awaiting the snow. I suspect I will have to wait a long time for it this year as it really does look like we’re having one of the mildest Christmases on record.

Still, despite the absence of snow, I feel firmly in the Christmas spirit, no doubt partly because of the wonderful end of term at SSHL, made particularly special by the outstanding Lucia celebrations this year. My thanks to everyone involved. It was a very special morning. As the sound of the choir filled the church, I saw many happy faces. I think that Lucia in Mariakyrkan is one of most wonderful traditions that we have at SSHL and if you’ve never experienced it, I encourage you to come along next year!

In the meantime, I am delighted by the video we have of this year’s celebrations and I hope you enjoy it too. I think it captures something of the atmosphere in the church and it certainly shows the outstanding work Mikael and Filippa have done with music at SSHL. Jennifer was a splendid Lucia.

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Mot Marbella och London

Here we come !

Here we come !

Under de närmaste veckorna kommer jag att bege mig utomlands för att tala inför elever och familjer om Sigtunaskolan Humanistiska Läroverket som en möjlig studiedestination.

En av mina favorituppgifter som rektor på skolan är att sprida ordet om SSHL, och att låta folk veta precis vad vi har att erbjuda på vår skola. Jag är passionerat engagerad i såväl utbildningsfrågor som i att bidra till att SSHL ständigt utvecklas och förbättras. Jag vill att fler familjer runt om i Sverige och i världen ska få möjlighet att dra nytta av den typ av utbildning och de erfarenheter vi har att erbjuda på skolan.

När jag talar med potentiella elever och deras familjer är min inställning aldrig att sälja, utan att informera. Jag strävar efter att berätta historier om SSHL och ge en bild av vad skolan och internatet har att erbjuda.

Det fina med SSHL är att det finns så många historier att berätta. Jag vet genom min kollega Lena Månsson, som besökte Kina förra året samt året dessförinnan, hur intresserade de människor hon mötte var av att få veta så mycket som möjligt om Sverige, naturen och landskapet. För andra är det tryggheten och sammanhanget som är viktigast. Och tidigare i år när jag besökte London fanns ett starkt fokus på akademiska frågor liksom frågor om universitetsansökningar bland de föräldrar som jag talade med.
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Allt handlar om kommunikation

It’s all About Communication

Jag blev jätteglad över att mer än 400 personer laddat ner min podcast nu i helgen. Det var mitt första avsnitt för detta läsår, och jag hoppas att det gav en inblick i det viktiga arbete Föräldraföreningen utför.

De podsändningar som Estelle, Jon och Jess har producerat åt oss de senaste åren har varit mycket framgångsrika. Under det förra läsåret så hade vi drygt 42.000 nerladdningar av skolans podcast! I år bestämde vi att jag skulle ta över sändningarna för att ge en djupare inblick i vad vi gör. Min avsikt är att dela med mig av det som händer här på SSHL samt att ge er chansen att lyssna på utvalda gäster i frågor som berör utbildning och elever.

Jag är som ni vet inte en utbildad journalist så jag hoppas ni kan ha lite tålamod. Jag är dock nyfiken på utbildningsfrågor och ser fram emot att få prata med många människor under det kommande året för att kunna dela dessa samtal med er.

Om det finns något ämne du vill att jag ska behandla eller någon särkild gäst du skulle vilja att jag bjuder in till podden får du gärna höra av dig.
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Intervju med rektor Margret Benedikz

mbFörberedelserna är i full gång inför kommande julspex och pysselhelg Julfirandet är en av de mest uppskattade traditionerna på SSHL. Just nu julpyntas det för fullt på varje elevhem, samtidigt som doften av nybakade lussebullar och pepparkakshus sprider sig i hela skolområdet. Vi fick en kort pratstund med Margret Benedikz, som berättade lite om vad som händer just nu på SSHL!

I veckan var det Öppet Hus på SSHL, hur kändes det?

Det blev en väldigt lyckad kväll med fler än 200 elever och föräldrar som besökte oss. Det var roligt att träffa så många människor. Efter informationen, så fick alla besökare gå runt på skolområdet med våra guidande elever. Jag tror att en av de populäraste platserna var vårt nya Café Humlan, där alla bjöds på fika.

Vad fick du för frågor?

Många var intresserade av att få veta mer om våra engelska och tvåspråkiga program för både gymnasiet och grundskolan. IB-programmet är ett mycket populärt alternativ och eleverna ville veta mer om hur det kan jämföras med de svenska naturvetenskapliga- och samhällsvetenskapliga programmen. Ungdomarna var också angelägna om att få veta mer om hur stora klasserna är på SSHL och vilken bakgrund våra lärare har. En av de bästa sakerna med SSHL är att vi garanterar små klasser, med max 24 elever per klass och att alla våra lärare är kvalificerade, engagerade och entusiastiska. Dessutom har vi ju ett unikt fritidsutbud som är tillgängligt för alla på SSHL.

Hur ser intresset ut för svenska internatskolor?

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