Tom Keighley

Member Article

Swedish firm win free school contract

Swedish education company Internationella Engelska Skolan (IES) has won a £21m contract to manage a free school in Suffolk.

The 10-year contract to manage the proposed Breckland Free School has been secured by the UK branch of IES, a provider of free schools in Sweden.

Families under the Save Breckland School campaign have submitted the final proposals, and expect to hear the ajudication from the Department of Education in January.

Free schools are funded by the tax payer, but are run independently by trusts that can procure services from private firms.

The concept has proved controversial, raising questions about the involvement of the private sector in state-funded education.

A Department for Educations spokesperson said: “Free Schools founders do not and can not make a profit.

“State schools and their local authorities have always been able to use companies to help them run services in schools – from HR, to ordering stationery, to school catering and providing educational advice.

“In this case, the Free School’s charitable Trust has decided that it wants to draw on the expertise of an established education company, with a proven track record of running good schools.

“This is not the same as the Free School proposers making a profit themselves. The charitable Trust will manage the contract and hold the contractor to account, and will be fully responsible and in control over what happens in the school.

“We will closely monitor the progress of this proposal, to ensure that tax payers receive value for money and that standards are not compromised in any way.”

Swedish free schools provided much of the inspiration for UK free schools system, as championed by Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove.

The Breckland Free School proposes to provide education for 300 pupils, in Brandon, and if successful will open in September 2012.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tom Keighley .

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