Sweden's leading independent school provider is eyeing up Kent as part of its bid to open a chain of state-funded schools in the UK.
Kunskapsskolan, which runs 30 state schools in Sweden and has pioneered a radical approach to teaching, has confirmed it is keen to run new secondary schools in both Ashford and north Kent.
It is already considering whether to bid to run a new secondary school in Thanet, which is being created by the merger of two existing schools, Ellington School for Girls and The Hereson School. That is due to open in 2009.
The company is due to meet with county council officials this week to discuss its interest in setting up schools in Kent, including the option of sponsoring new academies.
Pupils at its schools in Sweden have no uniform and are much more closely involved in devising their own timetables and targets. There are often pupils of different ages in classes and the overall approach to learning is much less formal.
Anders Hultin, Kunskapssolan’s chief executive, said the company was focusing on areas where population growth was likely to create a demand for new schools.
"We are looking for opportunities where we understand new schools are likely to be built. We have at least two projects in Kent in Ashford and Dartford for new secondary schools. We are interested in bringing together a group of schools in the UK and are in discussions with Government officials."
Under new legislation, any council planning to open a new school must now hold a competition for would-be providers, including commercial companies and parent groups.
Mr Hultin said: "What is common to all our schools is that they work to the same educational model based on personalised learning. They are based on a goal-setting process in which pupils progress at their own speed. We know this approach is high on the agenda in the UK."
While Kunskapssolan is run for profit in Sweden, it says that would not be the case in the UK. Mr Hultin said it wanted to prove its approach can work in England - something that could make the model more marketable elsewhere.