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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
The entrance of one of the Internationella Engelska skolan (IES) schools. Photo: Marko Säävälä / TT

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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EDUCATION

Swedish chain banned from opening new schools for ‘serious failings’

One of Sweden's leading free school chains has been banned from opening new schools or otherwise expanding after the schools inspectorate identified "serious failings'.

Swedish chain banned from opening new schools for 'serious failings'

Thorengruppen educates 15,000 pupils in Sweden through its chain of primary schools, upper secondary schools, SFI language schools and professional training schools. It currently has applications outstanding to open 28 new schools or other educational establishments in the country. 

“We have judged that the shortcomings in the applicant’s existing establishments are so serious that in the current situation the conditions are not in place for them to run additional ones,” said Carin Clevesjö, the head of the inspectorate’s school permits division.  

According to Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT, the inspectorate discovered in the spring that pupils at the group’s Thoren framtid primary school in Älmhult had not received any tuition at all in Geography for two years, with schools in Sundsvall and Solna showing similar severe failings. The group has been ordered to pay a total of half a million kronor in fines. 

In its decision, the inspectorate said that this demonstrated that the company did not have the “wherewithal to follow the relevant requirements”. 

In an email to SVT, the group’s head of new schools, Christina Runesdotter, said it was wrong to judge the quality of the group as a whole from a few individual cases. 

“We consider that one cannot judge the quality of a huvudman [an entity responsible for a school] from individual cases,” she wrote. 

According to SVT, the inspectorate has rejected applications from the company in Munkedal, Ale, Östersund, Växjö, Södertälje, Nyköping, Karlstad, Halmstad, Falu, Eskilstuna, Helsingborg, Borås, Norrköping, Solna, Skellefteå, Uppsala, Gävle, Umeå Jönköping, Kristianstad, Sundsvall, Malmö, Västerås, and Lund. 

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