Parents at Malmö’s Bladins International School lodge complaint over tuition cuts

Parents at Malmö's Bladins International School lodge complaint over tuition cuts
The school in April told parents it had been loss-making for seven years. Photo: Google
Parents at Malmö's Bladins International School have sent a formal letter of complaint to school management, saying they are "extremely dissatisfied" at a dramatic reduction in teaching hours.
The letter, signed by 30 families, calls for a meeting to discuss bringing back lost teaching hours in key subjects for certain year groups and says that they may consider approaching the International Baccalaureate Organisation or the Swedish Schools Inspectorate if their concerns can't be resolved at such a meeting. 
“The parents feel that the decrease in education hours will have a serious effect on the academic development at a point in the children's academic education critical to their future,” reads the letter, which was shared with The Local by an anonymous source. 
“We want our children to be able to compete against other IB students in the region in the future when applying first to DP [the Diploma Program] and to university.”
When contacted by The Local, Alex Rankin, the Head of School, said he had been in continual contact with the parents since measures were announced to counter the school's financial shortfall. 
“I'm meeting parents next week and I'm meeting parents later on this week, and we'd like to resolve it,” he said. “We have open communication with the parents and we'll continue to do that.” 
But he declined to give further details about how the school would respond to the letter. 
“As this is a school matter, we choose to handle this internally, directly with our concerned guardians. I will offer no further comments,” he said.
After the cut in teaching hours was reported in The Local last month, the school sent a letter to parents rejecting the report as “false facts and claims”.
While The Local initially reported that tuition time at the school was to be cut by as much as half for some students in some subjects, the publication of timetables for the current academic year show the reduction is closer to around one third for pupils in the MYP1 class, who are between 11 and 12. 
However the letter from the school to parents has failed to quell their anger.
A comparison of timetables for the MYP1 class last year and this coming year shows that the number of hours a week of tuition for the core subjects of English, Maths and Swedish, has decreased from 180 minutes per subject per week in the 2018-2019 academic year to 120 per week in the 2019-2020 academic year. 
But this has been done at the same time as increasing each lesson from 45 minutes to one hour, and removing all time between lessons, whereas before students had a five minute break. 
Bladins teaching hours now compare poorly with the municipality-run Malmö International School, which is this year giving students in the same class 220 minutes per week of Maths and English and 260 minutes per week of Swedish, according to timetable copies seen by The Local.
In his letter to parents, Rankin said that the International Baccalaureate Organisation required schools to offer a minimum of fifty hours per subject group per academic year. Bladins, he said, was offering 76 hours per subject group per academic year for MYP1 and 114 hours in MYP4.  
“Although this is a reduction in teaching hours from previous years in some subjects, we are still significantly over the minimum for the MYP Programme,” he said. 
In their complaint, parents questioned whether the IBO minimum was sufficient. 
“The IBO requirements state clearly that the MYP requires 50 hours of teaching time per subject group per year, but that more time is necessary in practice (this has been clearly stated in all MYP subject guides published by IBO),” they wrote. 
“Furthermore lack of transition time between lessons mean that lessons end early and start late because both teachers and students have to move from one classroom to another.” 
The parents also complained that the school now only started at 9.40am on Tuesdays and Thursdays making it hard for parents to get to work on time, while the school was also not providing full after hours care, as required under Swedish school regulations.  
The Local understands that parents are split over how to respond to the changes, with the Parent's Association in particular wanting to keep the problems quiet.
When Pernille Voigt, the head of the Parent's Association, was contacted by The Local she refused to be interviewed, saying she did not think the school should be “airing our dirty laundry in public”. 
According to one source, some parents are considering pushing for an increase to school fees as an alternative way of covering the school's financial shortfall. 

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