On Tuesday, December 17, a ruling was published following an appeal by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges Kommuner och Regioner, SKR), against the decision of Statistics Sweden (SCB) not to provide information about, among other things, grades and student composition at free schools in cases where there is only one free school in a municipality.
The judgment can be interpreted in several ways and it is unclear at the time of publication what statistics the National Agency for Education (Skolverket) will provide in future if the judgment gains legal force. We believe SCB’s interpretation of the situation is incorrect. It is only possible to draw limited conclusions about a school's economy from these statistics. In contrast the statistics are a very important tool for parents when choosing a school and assessing the quality of teaching.
It is therefore of great importance that statistics continue to be produced for all schools, following to the same methodology, and by an objective agency, so that these statistics can be considered credible and comparable. Similarly, access to the statistics is important for journalists, debaters and researchers who have a role in holding schools to account. The collection of statistics has worked very well so far, has provided a good level of transparency, and has ensured the ability to compare and review all schools, both municipal and independent.
As a listed company, we go even further in our transparency as being listed requires that we publish a quarterly report with an income statement and balance sheet, which is also available on our website. It is possible to read how we use school funding (skolpeng), which benefits both the public and other organisations with which we work, who can judge that we are financially stable. Of course, being transparent with financial results creates debate in the media, but the benefits outweigh the disadvantages and, of course, businesses that are financed by tax money must show how they use this funding, at least annually - this should apply to all schools.
We note that the National Agency for Education is also concerned about the decision of the Administrative Court (Kammarrätten) in the matter. We hope that SKR will be granted permission to appeal at the Supreme Administrative Court (Högsta Förvaltningsdomstolen) so that the matter can be resolved and given a final interpretation. We await the final decision in the case.
Whatever happens as a result of the verdict, Internationella Engelska Skolan will continue to publish the same information as before and we hope that we together with other independent schools and the National Agency for Education will find another common solution so that comparisons between schools can continue to be made.