News | 17 February 2023

A safe place to learn

At the IES school on Söder in Helsingborg, Swedish is the second language of about 65 per cent of the 503 students. “We have students who can hardly read, speak or write in Swedish when they start with us in year four. To help them catch up with their classmates quickly, we give them targeted tuition using visual aids and other measures. But it’s the mentors that have the most important part to play,” says Rachel Kjellman, the school’s principal.


Rachel Kjellman, principal, IES Helsingborg

”Bring a new dimension to an area with social challenges.” This was one of the main ideas of Helsingborg municipality when it gave the thumbs up to IES to restore the old Gustaf Adolf school on Söder in Helsingborg to its original purpose. It would once again be a compulsory school for students in years 4–9. Helsingborg has been a segregated city for many years with workers, and later many immigrants, living in the southern area of the city (Söder) and well-off residents in the northern area.

The opening of the school in 2017 was part of the municipality’s initiative to make Söder a more attractive and safe area. It was also a way to address the shortage of schools in the municipality. Today, five years later, the school has proven that it can attract students from the neighbouring area and from the entire municipality. It has also demonstrated its ability to deliver quality in teaching to all students, regardless of their background.

Mentors plays an important role
“Our focus is on creating the right conditions for every student to qualify for upper secondary school. In the last academic year we reached 95 per cent but we’re not content with that, we aim for 100 per cent,” says Rachel Kjellman.

Rachel Kjellman believes that creating a safe and calm environment is essential to achieving that academic target, along with identifying each student’s unique needs.

“The mentors have an incredibly important part to play. Clarity and structure are also important – everybody should know exactly what is expected of them. That creates a sense of security. It also requires us to differentiate our teaching. For example, our teachers use pictures as support for students who have difficulties reading and writing when they come to us,” she continues.

Want to teach the students to overcome adversity
Work to identify each student’s needs commences even before the student starts through a test lesson that helps the school to compile suitable classes. Continuous measurement of each student’s progress is an important element of the process. It also allows the school to react quickly.

“We set goals for each student and measure progress compared to these goals. The goals are ambitious as we want to teach the students to put in the effort needed. If they find it really hard to achieve their goals, we analyse whether this is due to academic or social reasons, and try to support the student,” says Rachel Kjellman.


To read the full quality report, click here.