Five fantastic IES students recognised for their grit

After a record number of nominations, stipends for overcoming adversity were made in honour of one of our former IEGS students

Stipendiefonden till Ellinor Carlssons minne (The Stipend in memory of Ellinor Carlsson) was set up in 2015, honouring a student at Internationella Engelska Gymnasiet Södermalm who took her final exams despite her diagnosis of sarcoma, which would eventually take her life.

Ellinor showed tremendous amount of grit in her own life and the formation of the stipend was a Christmas present to her, a few days before she passed away. It was her decision that it should be used to reward grit and given to students who show exceptional determination in overcoming difficulties during their studies.

The stipend is not necessarily awarded to the student with the best grades but rather the student who has reached an outstanding result based on their circumstances. Nominations can also include students who have stood up for their beliefs and values and shown moral courage.

This year the stipend jury had a record number of nominations to consider, and after weighing them all carefully they chose two recipients from Internationella Engelska Gymnasiet Södermalm, who each received 15,000 SEK as well as recipients from three IES compulsory schools around Sweden, IES Länna, IES Kista, and for the second time ever, IES Halmstad. Each of the three graduating year nine recipients received 10,000 SEK.

Ellinor’s father, Magnus Carlsson, said: “The winners make me think of the expression ‘Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.’ I'm not sure so many of you know the battles that the winners are fighting.”

Many other nominated IES students have shown strength of character, and although not all could receive a stipend, each and every one of them has made their mark and been noticed within their school.

Extracts from the motivations for each stipend awarded

Jubilee Priar, Internationella Engelska Gymnaisiet Södermalm:

Despite anxiety, grief and pain in life, an outstanding degree of performance, always optimistic mindset, the student’s way of making everyone around her laugh, for the way she cares for others, for the way she is helpful towards both students and teachers.

Joanne Okoba, Internationella Engelska Gymnaisiet Södermalm:

She continues to go to school, study hard and help others even when fighting her sorrow and the fear for the future. If there is anyone who would write her IB exams from the hospital bed or continue pushing on in difficult times as Ellinor did - then it is her.

Benhur Berhane, IES Kista:

Although he has not been able to attend school much this year, he has succeeded to maintain excellent grades. Like Ellinor, much of the important school work was done from the hospital bed. Despite this, the student has received fantastic grades. Despite this, he has had a positive impact on his surroundings.

Riyan Yusuf, IES Länna:

Unfailingly kind and respectful to every adult she interacts with, she also will work hard and respectfully with any student. She is often found in lessons calmly explaining difficult concepts or ideas to struggling students without being asked to. When facing darkness she will come back to school with courage, jumping back to the community and continuing to be a spring of hard work, respect and magnanimity.

Bennet Rexhepi, IES Halmstad:

He has reached outstanding results based on his circumstances and he made an incredible journey.  He has kept a great attitude and wholeheartedly trusted his team at school. His path to success has been hard work, to try and try again, and always remain positive.

Clarification of the status of the ownership and management review by the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen)

Clarification of the status of the ownership and management review by the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen)

In recent days, several media outlets have published articles about the Swedish Schools Inspectorate's ongoing ownership and management review of IES. The articles are based on a number of assumptions and lack certain facts, leading us to publish a clarification.

It goes without saying that we both fully support the pursuit of transparency and believe that only responsible actors should run the country's schools.

Since 2019, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate has had an expanded and important role, to review independent school providers. As a result of the delisting of IES from the stock exchange in the autumn of 2020, the inspectorate are carrying out an ownership and management review in accordance with this new directive. During the past six months, we have continuously answered diverse questions. The school's main owners are not secret and remain the same as they were previously; the investment company Paradigm Capital, which is represented by Jan Hummel, and The Hans and Barbara Bergstrom Foundation. They jointly own IES through Peutinger AB, a Swedish limited liability company (aktiebolag). They are active and committed owners who are proud to contribute to strengthening Swedish schools.

The Swedish Schools Inspectorate's analysis does not stop at the main owners of a school. They also evaluate the owners' passive owners and boards, i.e. several steps away from our schools. These passive owners must of course be identified and their influence clarified. What Aftonbladet claims to have revealed is not a comprehensive investigation, but the documentation that IES and the owners have sent to the Swedish Schools Inspectorate.

It is unfortunate that various register extracts from other countries have taken such a long time but this is due to the pandemic. Foreign authorities have not prioritised inquiries from Swedish authorities during this time, which has created delays.  Also, some of the documentation that Skolinspektionen asks for does not exist in other countries.

We continue to assist the Swedish Schools Inspectorate so that they can complete their review. We have the same goal, i.e. to ensure transparency so that everyone will continue to be secure in the certainty that IES not only runs some of the country's best schools but also has long-term and trustworthy owners.

For further questions about the ownership and management review or IES owner, please email


Education medal pays tribute to IES founder’s vision

Education medal pays tribute to IES founder’s vision

The Fostrargärningsmedalj has been given to Barbara Bergström (picture credit: left Martin Källqvist, right Pontus Lundahl)

Barbara Bergström, founder of IES, has been honoured with a gold medal as "A teacher, school-leader and entrepreneur whose strong vision has contributed to the renewal of schools in Sweden".

That  is how Kungliga Patriotiska Sällskapet described Mrs Bergström as they presented her with the prestigious Fostrargärningsmedalj (Swedish Royal Patriotic Society Medal for Education and Formation).

Presentation of the medal has been more than a year in the planning and delayed because of Covid.

The society praised Mrs Bergström for promoting "the norms and working practices which the majority agree on, but which for many reasons have been hard to implement in practice in the Swedish school system - a calm and orderly environment, civilised behaviour, diligence, politeness, respect for others, respect for knowledge and respect for your predecessors."

Mrs Bergström said: "I feel very honoured.  Schools which do not foster the norms and habits which are part of adult life betray children.  It is also meaningful to Sweden that we have recruited more than 1000 highly qualified teachers from English-speaking countries, largely to teach the science subjects, where Sweden has a need for more good teachers."

The medal is almost 200 years old and was first presented in 1830, when it took the form of a silver cross, rather than the gold medal it is today.
For more information about the award, please visit The Swedish Royal Patriotic Society website:

Six IES students won in four categories at national language finals

Six IES students won in four categories at national language finals

The finals of national language contest IlCompetition saw two IES teams take home trophies, and two individual IES students win mother-tongue prizes. In total five IES schools competed in the finals after winning regional contests.

The team from IES Lund won the Spanish competition while IES Sundsvall won the contest in English. Two students from IES Umeå individually won their respective mother-tongue categories, in German and Spanish.

In the nail-biting final to the English competition IES Sundsvall took home the prize after no fewer than three tie-breakers.  They beat IES Hässleholm, in second place, and IES Lund, in fourth.

Linus, one of the two students on the winning team from IES Sundsvall (pictured above), said: “I stood up while screaming in glee. Immediately turned to my partner and hugged him. We had won. It is hard to put into words, I was just very, very happy.  I would definitely not have won this thing without him. Personally, I think he is actually the better English speaker out of the two of us.”

In order to win Linus and his team-mate Joana had to answer tie breaker questions on English-speaking realia, including how many years have passed since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, how many stars are on the flag of New Zealand and finally in which year the United States of America declared independence.

Linus said: “The most hilarious part was before the competition started, I asked my partner: ‘When did America declare independence?’ That was probably the most clairvoyant thing I have ever said. I doubt we would have won if we hadn’t looked up the answer beforehand.”

The winning team in Spanish was comprised of Sofia and Paula from IES Lund (pictured, right). The Spanish team from Lund also won following the drama of a tie-breaker, consigning IES Liljeholmen to an honourable second-place finish.  This is the second time in three years that IES Lund have won the Spanish contest, and prizes including a trip to Spain.

Paula said: “We were pleasantly surprised and extremely happy when we won. Since Spanish is a language that is widely spoken around the world we believe that the knowledge we gained during the competition will be useful in the future, for traveling or working abroad for example.

“Our advice for students thinking about competing in the future is to identify your strengths and combine your knowledge when working together as a team. We worked together by splitting up certain questions between us and discussing the potential answers during the competition.”

IlCompetition is a language and culture contest which aims to enhance students' knowledge of modern foriegn languages. Around 27,000 students throughout Sweden entered the competition.

In order to reach the final, each team needed first to qualify, and then win one of the seven regional finals held around Sweden.

Other IES schools performed well, reaching the national finals. IES Lund came second in the contest for French, after competing against schools including IES Sundsvall. There were also two IES schools in the national final for German, IES Lund and IES Umeå.  

The event also includes an individual contest for students who speak one of the languages included as their mother tongue.

This year two students from IES Umeå won their respective mother tongue categories.

Irene won in Spanish, following a family tradition, she said: “It was a fun experience and a good chance to learn more about Hispanic culture in general. I was very happy to find out I had won, since my sister had already won once before me and it's nice that we've both won.”

Meanwhile Constanze, who won in German, said: “ To be honest, I wasn’t even sure about participating the day before qualifications. I’m happy I did though, since it turned out to be a rare chance for me to use my German.
“I was sure not to have any expectations since I didn’t want to get disappointed, so when my teacher told me I won I was genuinely surprised. I felt proud to have kept some of my knowledge about both the German language and Germany itself.”

Sustainable lunches firmly on the menu

Sustainable lunches firmly on the menu

IES aims to continue to increase sustainability throughout the organisation and suppliers are being encouraged to find new ways of working. One example at IES Sundsvall facilitates sustainable meal choices, by CO2 labelling all meals served.

Student Rand Almilah (pictured above) has always had a choice of lunches in her school restaurant, but now she can also easily choose a dish which will have less of an impact on the planet.

IES Sundsvall is using a new system meaning that each dish is clearly labelled with the size of the carbon footprint it has produced.

‘How much CO2 is on your plate?’ the menu asks, and next to each meal is a value in kilograms, and an icon, to give a quick idea if that is a dish with a high, average or low impact.


For Rand, a student council member with responsibility for health and the environment, making an informed decision to eat in an environmentally conscious way matters.

“I think that it’s really important because a lot of things are happening to our climate, and I think it’s important to make a change.” She said.

“When our school starts thinking about it, then students and teachers start to notice it and think about it too.”

For several weeks the new menus have been in place, and now the caterers have started talking about them with the students, explaining what the values mean, and the benefits of a sustainable lunch.

Åsa Ingemarsson (pictured, right) from the school’s caterer, Mitt Gastronomi, said: “It is so exciting, and the children are excited too. We love food and we want the children to learn to love food.

“The children like it a lot and if they have already chosen to eat vegetarian then they are very proud that they took this decision. We start a thought process in the children with this as well.”

Even choosing between different meat dishes can have a different effect on the planet.  Åsa explains: “We served falukorv sausage. If you chose ordinary falukorv that had a value of 0.7, if you took the beef one then it was 3.6, the vegetarian one was 0.1; so there was a big difference. You don't have to eat vegetarian food every day, you can decide, and I think that is cool.”

The new menus are just the latest step the school kitchen has taken to increase sustainability.  They also put a lot of focus on not wasting food.  The amount of waste is regularly measured, and children are reminded that they can go back for seconds, so they don’t need to overfill their plates on the first pass.

Food is an area where Internationella Engelska Skolan has continuous discussions with suppliers with an aim to to minimise food waste while providing healthy, nutritious and sustainable options.

But does the new system actually work? Rand believes so.

“I really do think that students and teachers start noticing it and thinking, ‘Maybe I should start choosing meals that release less carbon dioxide.’ When they can actually see how much of an impact their meals have, they can start making that choice. People need to see how much of a change they can make.”