How does IES deliver on its promises? Learn how we work in our quality report

How does IES deliver on its promises? Learn how we work in our quality report

When American teacher Barbara Bergström founded Internationella Engelska Skolan in 1993 it was as a result of her frustration at the lack of leadership that she experienced in Swedish schooling. Ever since then, strong local leadership has defined how we operate and provided the foundation for continuous quality improvement. Each and every one of our 43 schools around Sweden has a principal that works tirelessly with their team to give our students a thoroughly good start in life.

When IES was founded, the objective was to create a safe and orderly school environment where teachers can teach, and students learn. High academic demands were to be placed on students, and students were to become completely bilingual through receiving a significant portion of their education using the English language. Since the first school opened in Enskede, the organisation has grown considerably and IES is currently the leading operator of independent compulsory schools in Sweden, with schools across the whole country. There is strong demand from both parents and students for an IES education. This is reflected in an ever-growing queue, and in the fact that the business world and many municipalities, regardless of political party, are eager for IES to set up a school in their area.

The main reason for this is our strong focus on quality and the good results this generates. Substantially more of our students qualify for upper secondary school and perform better in the national tests, compared to the national average. We know that quality can quickly deteriorate though, and we constantly strive to improve it. We set high academic goals for our students and have well-established structures in place to ensure the right conditions exist for them to achieve these. In practice this for example means that there is a student health team at each IES school and that our teachers work together in year teams and subject teams.

There are many aspects to quality in schooling, one of which is integrity in grading. Teachers are personally responsible for setting grades, but it is the organisation’s duty to make sure that they have the right tools to do so properly. This is why we constantly work to improve grading processes. The national tests are an important parameter in our grading, and after an absence of two years, we look forward to these tests taking place again during the current academic year.

Quality is deeply embedded in our DNA, and everybody at IES has a responsibility to develop and maintain it. As the CEO, I am ultimately responsible for quality within the organisation, along with the board. At our board meetings discussions regarding how IES will ensure and further enhance quality are always high on the agenda. During this past and challenging year of the pandemic, a great deal of energy has gone into supporting the schools and staff to maintain quality. For example, a special pandemic crisis group was quickly set up to assist the schools with daily information and support.

We are convinced that schools fulfil one of the most important functions in society, and that quality in schooling for all children is a key area of focus for our country. Schools are essential to students’ future prospects and Sweden’s competitiveness, and we want to do our part. IES has proven that we are able to run successful schools. We endeavour to constantly improve quality, be a good role model and expand our operations so that we can teach more students.

Anna Sörelius Nordenborg

Everyone in school is a part of student health

Everyone in school is a part of student health

For IES, student health is of the highest priority and integrated into all parts of school activities. But how does it work, and how can the health staff provide students with the best conditions concerning their mental and physical well-being?

To find the answer, we asked Helena Lüning, head of operations, for student health at IES. Originally a pediatrician and child psychiatrist, Helena Lüning constantly strives to be there for the students, and when asked about her job, describes it as the best in the world.

Interviewer: What exactly is student health?

Helena Lüning: “The function of student health is to create ideal conditions at school for students to receive an exemplary education and a positive outlook. Student health should not be seen as a separate issue but as an integral part of the school. The importance requires everyone who works at the school to take part in the matter. That includes those who work daily with student health and the students' role models - all of who play an integral role in the school environment.”

Helena Lüning said: Since the students' mental health is linked to their social environment, we adults in the schools have a great responsibility to create a safe and healthy space for them - another piece of the puzzle for the school to function properly. Our presence also lets us catch issues early on that the children might have. It allows us to understand elements that do not work, make adjustments. Based on that, we can ensure that measures and resources are in place.

Helena Lüning said: “It is important that students feel seen and safe, both inside and outside the school. For us, it is critical to be present in everyday activities. Student health work operates best with collaboration, acting as a bridge between students, parents, and teachers. Our staff is always working to be present. As a school nurse or curator, you don't just sit in your room, you constantly move among the children throughout the day - in the dining room, the corridors, and during breaks. This allows you to get to know them better, and get a greater understanding and an insight into their reality.”

“We at IES work to promote health and prevention, and we attach great importance to knowing all the children in the schools. In this way, we can determine when something is wrong with a student and respond as quickly as possible. Everyone in the student health team has a strict duty of confidentiality, and it is important that you feel confident that what you say stays private.”

In addition to the daily vision, a long-term outlook is needed. The goal is to constantly improve and follow up on best practices - big and small.

“Every year, our school nurses conduct health conversations with students in primary and secondary school. These conversations are voluntary and are based on a questionnaire students take concerning health and lifestyle issues. The questionnaire takes place in preschool, grades 4, 7, 8, and the first year of high school. The questions include sleep, diet, physical activity, well-being, and topics such as friends and relationships. We believe that no problem is too small. The health talks allow us to strengthen the students' well-being and discover early on if any need special assistance. Since some find it easier than others to share, this creates a more inclusive space for thoughts and reflections.”

Helena Lüning pointed out how the interaction between parents, teachers, and children plays a role in the child's success. Therefore, it is important that parents feel confident in having an open dialogue with the school.

Helena Lüning said: “If you as a parent have thoughts or worries about your child's health, you should first turn to the student's mentor since the mentor knows the child best. This allows the student health team to be present and involved when needed. Of course, you can also contact the school nurse or curator directly.”

IES signs rental agreement to open a school in Österåker

IES signs rental agreement to open a school in Österåker

Internationella Engelska Skolan plans to open a new IES school in Österåker, and has signed a rental agreement with property company Nystad Stadsutveckling AB. The planned opening of the school will be in August 2023.

IES Österåker is planned as a two parallel F-9 school in a property that was previously a compulsory school, called Hackstaskolan, in central Österåker. When fully developed, it will have 600 students. Part of the school building will be demolished and replaced. Improvements will include a new manufacturing kitchen and a school restaurant. There is a gym hall next to the school building.

Anna Sörelius Nordenborg, CEO of IES, said: “We look forward to working together with Österåker municipality and Nystad to open a new school in Österåker. Many students from Österåker attend our school in Täby today, so we know that there is great interest in an IES school opening in Österåker.”

In order to open a new school in the property, Berga 6:35, the necessary permits, including a building permit, need to be in place.

IES offered the chance to buy the home of its first school, IES Enskede

IES offered the chance to buy the home of its first school, IES Enskede

A deal between SISAB and Internationella Engelska Skolan would see the organisation own a historic school building.

Internationella Engelska Skolan has been asked if it would like to buy Borrsvängen 13. The building is today home to IES Enskede, the first IES school. The building is being sold by The Stockholm School Properties Company (SISAB). IES Enskede has rented the building, at Lingvägen 123, Gubbängen, southern Stockholm, since 1998.

Anna Sörelius Nordenborg, CEO of Internationella Engelska Skolan, said "We are pleased that as long-standing tenants we have now been offered the opportunity to take responsibility for the building which has been home to IES Enskede for more than twenty years. This sale will secure the school's future in the same building for many decades to come."

Following the purchase IES plans to renovate the building. The organisation's vice CEO, Jörgen Stenquist, said: "We are a school that has a very long-term perspective. Owning the building would mean that we could plan a renovation to suit the school. This is a priority for us.”

The building, Borrsvängen 13, was built in the mid-1950s under the auspices of Stockholm's department of schooling (folkskoledirektion). The property has been home to IES Enskede, since 1998. The rental contract was renewed as recently as 2014 and runs until 2029. To be finalised the purchase must be approved by Stockholms Stadshus AB's board and then the City of Stockholm's municipal board. Should the sale go through IES will become the building's owner during the first half of 2022.

International Baccalaureate Success Opens Doors For Gymnasiet Students

International Baccalaureate Success Opens Doors For Gymnasiet Students

Egor Hagberg could choose where to study thanks to his grades. Year on year more Internationella Engelska Gymnasiet Students achieve top grades in both the IB and national programmes
When Egor Hagberg ran out of his gymnasiet with his classmates, all celebrating the end of their studies, he didn’t yet know that the grades he had achieved were good enough to open the doors of any university.
Egor had studied the International Baccalaureate, a programme which has been offered at Internationella Engelska Gymnasiet Södermalm (IEGS) for eight years. The International Baccalaureate is an internationally-recognised programme, respected by leading universities, designed to help students develop excellent breadth and depth of knowledge.
Egor said: “On the day of ‘studenten’, I was very happy.  I wasn't really too worried because there was nothing to worry about, I felt good after the exams.”
It was about another month before he received his results and discovered that he had received 43 out of 45 points, which put him in the top 6.7 per cent of IB students around the world. This year a score above 40 this year was only achieved by 18 per cent of students globally, compared to 21 per cent of IB students at IEGS.
Year after year students at IEGS manage to achieve above average results in both the national programmes, and the IB, meaning they are in a strong position when it comes to choosing a university programme.
Egor said:  “The possibility was there for me to apply for Ivy league universities and get accepted, or to top universities in the UK. The grades were good enough to get into very good universities, and it guaranteed entrance to Handelshögskolan.  For me though, it is less about the grades and more about what I managed to learn.  I feel I have already covered a lot of the material we are covering at university, while some other students struggle.” 
Joseph Hemingway, academic manager at IEGS said: “The IB is a serious and academically demanding programme. I think the students that choose the IB do so because they want to be challenged.  When students choose the IB they can also specialise more early on. They choose six subjects as opposed to more than 20 courses that they would take on in the national programmes.
“For the 10 IEGS students achieving 40 plus points, it opens up incredible opportunities for them. These impressive results will give them access to the top universities around the world. They've worked hard for the grades, and they can be secure in the knowledge that their grade is worth the same as any other student from previous years.”
Egor would definitely recommend the International Baccalaureate at IEGS to anyone who is willing to work hard.  He said: “You have to be ready to study, it is not simple by any means.  You have to understand that you will get something out of it.  If you want to apply internationally it is quite a bit better, it is also quite convertible to UK and US.”
IEGS will soon hold digital open evenings, take part to learn about studying at IEGS on either the IB or national programmes:

  • November 29th - International Baccalaureate 
  • December 1st - Natural Science & Aesthetics 
  • December 2nd - Social Science & Economy-Law

Join the digital events at

Physical open houses are being planned for late January if the public health situation allows.