Reading an informative little book called The Education Debate
by Stephen Ball, I saw reference to a Policy Exchange paper from 2010 called Blocking the Best
which is still available to download (1)
I haven't read all through but noticed Sweden - very much in vogue at the time amongst right-leaning policy wonks - mentioned a fair number of times and a chain called Kunskapsskolan in particular. This bit stood out on page 41:
The footnote numbered 90 tells us this:
Curiosity got the better of me and i wondered "OK, so what happened next? How did it work out?"
Kunskapsskolan in the UK is operated by a chain called the Learning Schools Trust. When I searched on the DfE spreadsheet I found they have 4 academies - at least that's what it says for October. Things have changed though as we'll see.
Ipswich Academy might ring a bell. It should since it has had 2 Ofsted reports since the takeover by the trust - both Inadequate. It is now not in the Learning School Trust any longer since it has been transferred to the Paradigm Trust (and that is odd in itself since the other schools that trust runs are in East London and miles away from Ipswich).(2)
Now, you may well ask why a trust running two schools in Twickenham took on a school 120 miles away. I really have no idea - some of the DfE's choices of sponsors and their location are simply baffling.
The Learning Schools Trust itself was one of those named by Edward Timpson in March 2014 as being barred from taking over any more schools (3)
Another question could be asked as to why an academy rated as Inadequate in July 2013 took so long to be transferred to another trust. Indeed, it had yet another inspection in Jan 2015 where it was still rated Inadequate.
The two original schools in Twickenham haven't been doing that well either - both of them are currently rated as Requires Improvement.
So to the latest development which can be seen on the trust website.(4)
Both the other schools mentioned are converter academies - one of whom (Waldegrave) has a primary school in its trust as well.
The LST seem to be admitting that they really don't know what else to do apart from asking for help from other local academies - and not only asking for help, seem to be proposing that all 4 schools (plus the primary) join together in the same trust. Note that bit about research by the DfE showing "that the most successful Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) operate in close geographic groups"
The Learning Schools Trust still has one other school which is in Northampton - 80 miles away. The really odd fact about this one is that this was a converter academy that was - and still is - rated as Good.
You have to wonder why a Good school thought it necessary to convert to an academy status and join a trust that was very small and nowhere near it geographically. Given the DfE's reluctance to disclose anything, I doubt we'll ever know.
One thing is certain though - Policy Exchange's cheerleading of Kunskapsskolan certainly didn't result in anything spectacular - only some bad decisions by the DfE, indifferent performance by the trust, and a school which must be wondering where its future lies.
1. http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/public ... -schools-2
2. http://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/quest ... _1_4015729
3. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/p ... 8120001440