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Project: Alleviation or obstruction? Teachers, teaching assistants and negotiations on professional domains

In this project, we will study the initiatives taken in Swedish schools to relieve the pressure on teachers by introducing teaching assistants. We will investigate how the teachers' work is divided, how professional boundaries are negotiated and shifted, and if the desired relieves are attained. Based on the results, we also want to develop a model for actual alleviation of Swedish teachers.

This project was concluded in January 2022.

Project information

Project manager
Per Lindqvist
Other project members
Ulla Karin Nordänger, Lars Fonseca, Helena Ackesjö, Jens Gardesten, Katarina Herrlin
Forte (call for proposals within health, working life and welfare)
Pedagogy and Educational Sciences (Department of Education and Teachers' Practice, Faculty of Social Sciences)


Borde svenska lärare bli mer franska? – En essä med reflektioner över lärararbetets gränser, structure och communitas. Pedagogisk forskning i Sverige, 24(2), 70-83.

Markeringar av lärararbetets gränser: Territorium i omförhandling via införandet av lärarassistenter. Pedagogisk forskning i Sverige, 25(1), 35–53.

Gardesten, J. & Fonseca, L. (2019). Förändringar av läraruppdraget på skolor där heltidsmentorer anställts. Educare – Vetenskapliga skrifter, (3), 34–48.

Gardesten, J., Nordänger, U. K., Herrlin, K. (2021). Scenkonst eller gatuteater? Lärares arbete i relation till struktur, organisering och yrkesgränsernas utsträckning. Nordic Studies in Education (2), 148–166.

Lindqvist, P. (2020). "Låt lärarna vara lärare" – idéer om lärararbete i det offentliga samtalet om lärarassistenter. Pedagogisk forskning i Sverige, 25(4), 7-29.

(Lärar)avlastande yrkesgrupper – var går gränserna?: En studie om nya fördelningar av och förhandlingar om arbete i skolan.

More about the project

The pressure on the Swedish teachers is high and different initiatives are being taken to enable teachers to focus on their "core mission". The introduction of teaching assistants is one of the proposals. The content of the teaching assistants' work, however, is described in different ways. In the debate as well as in practice the descriptions have shifted from administrative work to pure teaching.

The introduction of teaching assistants can be seen as an internal stratification of the teaching profession, where work assignments are divided and handed over to other professions. The consequence is that professional domains will be negotiated and distributed.

The overall aim of the project is to develop knowledge of these processes and practices. We are interested in the ideas of professional mission that is reflected in the processes. What emerges as alleviation of workload and what appears to be teachers' "core" mission? Based on the results, we also want to develop a model for actual alleviation of Swedish teachers.

The three year project consists of four studies: an initial mapping of the prevalence and magnitude of teaching assistants in Sweden, a document analysis of ideas concerning the division of labor between teachers and
teacher assistants, dialogue seminars with teachers where encounters with a contrasting practice (Teacher assistants in France) is included as well as case- and effect studies of actual processes in Swedish schools where teacher assistants has been introduced. The analysis is coordinated year four with the overall aim to develop models for how the school can create models for successful and reasonable alleviation of teachers.