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EDUCATION

Drastic funding cuts for independent schools

The Swedish National Agency for Education's (Skolverket) new method for calculating funding for independent high schools (friskolor) means that the institutions risk losing millions of kronor every year.

“I had a bit of a shock when I saw the list. This was not a good way to start the new year,” Erik Drakenberg, head of Täby Enskilda high school, told Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Drakenberg has called upon Swedish education minister Jan Björklund to ensure that “this madness stops.”

“If there are problems that haven’t anticipated, we’ll look into after the holidays,”

Swedish state secretary Bertil Östberg told DN.

Skolverket’s national cost list has previously been based on the actual costs for various high school programmes. But as of January 1st, the list will be based on an average of municipal budgets.

“At first I was entirely convinced that this is wrong, but it is a new way to calculate (costs),” Drakenberg told DN.

The budget for the media programme, for example, has been reduced from 98,000 kronor ($14,000) to 83,300 kronor ($11,650) per school year. But there are major differences in costs between different municipalities.

Björn Berglund, educational expert at Skolverket, told DN that the agency has compiled the list with the assistance of Statistics Sweden (SCB), but that it has not yet been analysed.

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EDUCATION

IES chain blocked from opening four new schools

Sweden's Internationella Engelska Skolan (IES) chain has been denied permission to open four new schools in Gothenburg, Huddinge, Norrtälje, and Upplands-Bro, after the schools inspectorate said it had not provided pupil data.

IES chain blocked from opening four new schools

According to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) has denied permission to the chain to open a new planned new school in Norrtälje, north of Stockholm, even though the building that will house it is already half built. The inspectorate has also denied permission to three other schools which the chain had applied to start in 2023. 

In all four cases, the applications have been rejected because the school did not submit the required independent assessment for how many pupils the schools were likely to have. 

Jörgen Stenquist, IES’s deputy chief executive, said that IES has not in the past had to submit this data, as it has always been able to point to the queues of pupils seeking admissions to the school. 

“The fact that Engelska Skolan, as opposed to our competition, has never had the need to hire external companies to do a direct pupil survey is because we have had so many in line,” he told DN.

“In the past, it has been enough that we reported a large queue in the local area. But if the School Inspectorate wants us to conduct targeted surveys and ask parents directly if they want their children to start at our new schools, then maybe we have to start doing that.”

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According to the newspaper, when the inspectorate had in the past asked for pupil predictions, the chain has refused, stating simply “we do not make student forecasts”, which the inspectorate has then accepted. 

However, in this year’s application round, when IES wrote: “We do not carry out traditional interest surveys as we simply have not had a need for this,” the inspectorate treated it as grounds to reject its applications. 

According to DN, other school chain have been complaining to the inspectorate that IES gets favourable treatment and was excused some requirements other chains have to fulfil. 

Liselotte Fredzell, from the inspectorate’s permitting unit, confirmed that the inspectorate was trying to be more even handed. 

“Yes, it is true that we are now striving for a more equal examination of applications. Things may have been getting too slack, and we needed to tighten up.” 

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