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British's Conservatives push for Swedish-styl -

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With a British election just months away, the country's Conservative Party has pushed for a
schooling revolution based on Sweden's model.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: With a general election just months away in Britain, the scent of victory
is in the air at the Conservative Party's annual conference. Among the policies Tory leader David
Cameron took to the conference is a radical plan to shut down Britain's worst-performing schools
and replace them with a Swedish model. Europe correspondent Emma Alberici visited Sweden's free
schools to see why their students perform so well.

EMMA ALBERICI, REPORTER: The financial crisis could have left many of the office towers in
Stockholm empty, but luckily, there's one business in Sweden that's proving recession-proof and is
filling the vacancies: education. Kunskapsskolan is one of these new generation of Swedish schools
where carparks double as playgrounds.

This Year Six class is reviewing last night's evening news bulletin. It's not part of your typical
school curriculum, but then Sweden has few typical schools since the Government decided to give
anyone who wanted it a shot at running one. Every child they manage to attract comes with $10,000
from the state. The owners of these so-called free schools are not allowed to collect any extra
fees from parents. If they manage to be more efficient than their state-school counterparts, they
can even make a profit out of the exercise.

Is it a good business to be in?

PER LEDIN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, KUNSKAPSSKOLAN: It's relatively safe if you manage to keep up a high
level of quality, and therefore it can, in economic terms, be compared to a cash cow, if you like.

money which is spend on their children's education. Parents will be able to take the ?5,000 the
state spends on their children to the school of their choice.

EMMA ALBERICI: Britain's Opposition Conservatives want to bring the Swedish education revolution to
the UK, but handing the education of small children to big business is one step too far. Shadow
Secretary of State Michael Gove told his party's annual conference that he hopes to attract as many
as 500 new schools to the UK. They'll be eligible for state funding, but they won't be allowed to
make a profit.

What is it that attracts you to the Swedish school model?

NICK GIBB, BRITISH SHADOW SCHOOLS MINISTER: The result, over the 15 years that this policy's been
in place, has been a huge increase in standards. Not just in the new schools that have been
established, the 900 new schools that have been established in Sweden, but in the 85 per cent of
schools that remain municipal schools - standards there have risen too. So we want to take that
approach and apply it here to try to raise standards in the British schools.

EMMA ALBERICI: When the Labor Party came to power here in Britain in 1997, it promised to fix the
school system. But 12 years later, critics say one big problem still exists: it's not so much the
number of free schools, but the quality of state education.

It's easy to determine which schools in Britain provide the best results. Every school in the
country is given a rating across a range of criteria on the Government's education website, OFSTED.
Parents can easily establish which schools are classed as outstanding, but most of those have
hundreds of children on waiting lists. Around 250 public schools will be judged by OFSTED to be
failing their students, but often parents will be forced to send their children there anyway
because the only alternative is often a very expensive private school.

Over the past decade, Sweden has managed to leap ahead of most countries in the education league
tables, while Britain has lagged behind. One in five children in the UK are now illiterate when
they leave school. The Tories hope that by the end of their first term in government, the Swedish
experiment will have helped turn that around.