Review of school grading welcomed by IES

Review of school grading welcomed by IES

IES welcomes the Government’s decision to ask Skolinspektionen to strive for more equal assessment and grading

High integrity in grading is important for Internationella Engelska Skolan, which welcomes a review of school grading. The Swedish Government has asked the Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) to carry out the review.

As head of academics at IES, Annakarin Johansson Sandman is responsible for school grading. Welcoming today’s decision she said: “We share the minister of education's opinion that students should be assessed on the basis of their abilities and that grades should fairly reflect each student’s knowledge.

“We work systematically with different methods to ensure integrity in grading.”

To help teachers ensure equal grading, IES has taken measures including the creation of a process for joint assessment between subject teachers in IES schools around Sweden.  IES also has subject specialists who support schools with grading.

Another tool using to secure parity in grading is the regular grading workshops that are held for the schools’ academic managers. Several IES schools carry out moderation with other schools within IES and with municipal schools to ensure correct grading.

Annakarin Johansson Sandman added: “For us, it is important that our students come out with the right knowledge, and that knowledge and grades match each other so that students have the right conditions when they go on to high school, and so that their teachers at high-school understand what the student is capable of.”

Skolinspektionen recently completed a review of how Internationella Engelska Skolan works with grading. In a decision on December 10 they said that IES "implements high-quality measures to create conditions for fair and equal grading."

Read more about our work with grading in our quality report:





Posted in #grades

Grades should help – not hinder

Grades should help – not hinder

As of the autumn term, schools that want to introduce grades from year 4, can do so.  Out of the 26 schools in Sweden that distribute grades before the Christmas holidays, half are IES schools.

Grades from year four have not been allowed for many years. Instead it has been possible to give grade-like assessments, and most IES schools have done so. But from now on grades from year 4 will be possible again.

"Grades already in year 4 will make it easier to put in support earlier for students who need it", emphasized Annakarin Johansson Sandman who is Head of Academics at IES.

Annakarin Johansson Sandman said: “It is about making our students aware from an early age. Where they are at and what challenges they face, so that we can have an early communication about it. But above all, the grades are for the sake of the teachers. We believe in high academic expectations and to make students aware of their learning at an early stage, in order to take their own responsibility, of course with the support of the teachers.”

“But it is important to find a common language for students and teachers.” Annakarin Johansson Sandman stated.

“We have noticed that when you start calling it a grade, stress arises in the students. And that can happen whether it's at year four or eight. It is therefore important to talk about the grades as something that will help the student, not be of hindrance. It is the grades in year nine that are most important for the students' future studies and, by starting early, we simplify the way there.”

In 2021, IES has introduced a new tool - Academic Dashboard - where IES schools can see and compare how grades are set within their own school unit and the tool also makes it possible to see, compare, and analyse the situation across all IES’ schools.

“Having a direct insight into the grading helps us to support the schools in their work to set the correct grades and counteract grade inflation. At the same time, the schools themselves can analyze and compare their results from before and see how girls and boys compare to each other in various subjects, among other things. Students should know what grades they are getting even before they open their envelopes, it should not come as a surprise.”

Annakarin Johansson Sandman said: “You should not realize on the graduation day whether you have failed or received an "A". It is of utmost importance to communicate with the students all the way, with the grades as a background.”

Four of IES’ schools have already tried grading from year 4, when the Swedish National Agency for Education let schools test grading. The schools thought it worked well, that they could put in support earlier and that the students got a clearer picture of where they were at, at an earlier stage. Now nine more IES schools are introducing grades in time for the Christmas holidays. The ambition for the future is to introduce grades from year 4 in all IES' schools. But since it is a principal's decision, it is up to each school to do so.

“Internationally, it is common with grades at an early age. Finland, England, Germany and others have had it for a long time and IES wants to follow this international approach. Our goal is to get all our schools on board, but it is the principal who makes the actual decision. I also believe that many more schools outside IES will follow our example in the future”. Annakarin Johansson Sandman said.


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.