Hjallamiðstöðin (The Hjalli Centre)
123 Vífilsstaðavegur, 210 Garðabær
General manager: Margret Pala Olafsdottir
Hjallastefnan Ltd. is a progressive education company owned by school and education enthusiasts. The company was founded by Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir in 2000 when she took over the management of Hjalli preschool (children aged from 18 months) in Hafnarfjörður by way of a service contract with the municipality. By that time Margrét Pála had already run the preschool for a decade and developed theories and a curriculum that make up the Hjalli Model. The number of preschools run by Hjallastefnan has increased throughout the years and in 2003 Hjallastefnan expanded into primary schools when the Childrens School in Garðabær was founded. Today Hjallastefnan Ltd. employs over 500 people in 14 preschools and 5 primary schools in 10 municipalities all over Iceland.
The Hjallastefnan schools operate independently under the guidance of their principal who oversees and is responsible for day to day management of the school. In this way each school has their own atmosphere and culture while at the same time working with each other towards common goals, following the curriculum which is the foundation of everything we do.
Our drive and passion in managing Hjallastefnan Ltd. is the educational vision and ideas that shape all aspects of the Hjalli Model. Our staff firmly believes that their work is of vital importance and that with it they are playing a role in creating a better future for our children. An education based on equality, positivity, discipline, creative thinking, social skills and individual training are the basis of the Hjallastefnan curriculum which we believe are crucial to the development of the individuals we are entrusted with. We also believe that a dynamic and independently run education company can be creative, innovative and work towards experimental projects that provide the public education sector with necessary and timely restraint and healthy competition that leads to more professionality and better service - which benefits us all.
About the Hjalli Model
The Hjalli Model is an Icelandic educational pedagogy which includes teaching at both the preschool and primary school levels and is well known for it’s single-gender classes. The main thinking behind this is to liberate children from traditional gender roles and gender stereotypical behaviour, which can often be amplified in mixed-gender classes. Children who attend Hjalli schools receive an education that incorporates a full range of human characteristics, capabilities and experiences without them being attached to a specific gender, as we believe that every child should have all of the possibilities in the world, regardless of their sex. The Hjalli model is unique in many other ways as well, for example we only use open ended play materials at our schools as opposed to traditional toys and we believe in using positive discipline to train social skills.
The Hjalli Model is named after the first preschool that used these methods; Hjalli in the town of Hafnarfjörður in the south west of Iceland. In 1989 Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir M.Ed. became the director of Hjalli preschool and started developing the innovative pedagogical methods which would later become the Hjalli Model. These methods were, and are, considered provocative and radical and the Hjalli preschool was at first hotly debated. However, over time the Hjalli Model has gained a lot of ground and in recent years received various awards and recognition. In 1997 Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir, the founder and author of the Hjalli Model, received The Equality Award given by the Gender Equality Council and Minister of Equality, for her work with Hjallastefnan. In 2006 Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir was invested with Iceland’s highest honour; the Knight’s Cross of the Order of the Falcon by the Icelandic President, for innovation in education.