Three Academies using personalised learning developed in Sweden are not good according to Ofsted

Janet Downs's picture
The Learning Schools Trust (LST) runs four academies on behalf of Kunskapsskolan, the for-profit Swedish education provider.   Kunskapsskolan operates the academies according to the “KED education programme” designed by Kunskapsskolan for personalised learning.  This is marketed as a “complete tool box” for such things as learning materials, manuals and a web-based curriculum.

Michael Gove opened LST sponsored Ipswich Academy last week.  Kunskapsskolan wrote:

“Kunskapsskolan and Learning Schools Trust were happy to welcome Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, to conduct the formal opening of this modern and inspirational learning environment.”

But Ofsted, which visited in July, didn’t seem impressed with the “inspirational learning”.  It judged Ipswich Academy to be “Inadequate”.  Teaching was inadequate, inspectors wrote, because pupils, especially the most able, weren’t given hard enough work.  And pupils misbehave when lessons are “dull”.  One-to-one tutorials, however, were listed as a strength.

LST sponsored Twickenham Academy “Requires Improvement”, wrote Ofsted in November.  High ability pupils were often not stretched while low achievers sometimes found the work too hard.

A third LST academy, Hampton Academy, was inspected in July.  It, too, “Requires Improvement”.  Ofsted wrote, “Learning has not always been successful in the workshop style of lessons because some students find it hard to work independently”.

It appears, then, Ofsted found the personalised learning was pitched incorrectly, too easy or too difficult and boring.  Autonomous working didn’t suit some pupils.   However, individual tutorials were a positive strategy.

Kunskapsskolan academies have no choice but to adopt the KED education programme – it’s the Kunskapsskolan way.  Gove constantly says the academy status allows heads to devise their own curriculum and innovate, but Kunskapsskolan academies are tied to one particular way of working.

In 2008, when Kunskapsskolan announced its interest in English schools, it said:

“The ambition is for 30 academies as well as a handful of profit-generating independent schools in England over the next 10 years.”

And ex-Gove adviser, Sam Freedman, said at the same time:

"They are not interested for altruistic reasons. It's an investment," Freedman says. "Soon you'll see organisations given money to run schools rather than them sponsoring academies."

Peje Emilsson, chair of Kunskapsskolan, like Enver Yucel of Bau, has global ambitions.  Another of his firms, Magnora, has just set up a school in Delhi which it hopes will be the start of a school chain.  Indian teachers will be trained in “KED pedagogies”.  Emilson spoke to the US-based, libertarian think-tank, the Cato Institute, in 2011, when he told the audience his firm could increase test results at a 20% cheaper cost.  In the UK, he said, he had told his “Conservative friends” he could do it even more cheaply.

But this doesn't seem to have happened.  Three academies inspected – two require improvement, one is inadequate.  And Ofsted criticised the way of learning which is integral to Kunskapsskolan schools.

No wonder there was so little publicity when Gove opened Ipswich Academy on 29 November.
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