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The Folkeskole

The "Folkeskole" is the Danish municipal primary and lower secondary school.

The Folkeskole consists of one year of pre-school class, nine years of primary and lower secondary education and a one-year 10th form.

Education is compulsory in Denmark for everyone between the ages of 6-7 and 16. Whether the education is received in a publicly provided school, in a private school or at home is a matter of individual choice, as long as accepted standards are met. It is education itself that is compulsory, not school.

The Folkeskole was founded in 1814, and, at that time, all children were given the right to seven years of education. The school subjects taught then were religion, reading, writing and arithmetic. Since that time and until the end of the 20th century, only five major changes have been made to the Education Act, i.e. in 1903, 1937, 1958, 1975 and 1993. On the other hand, in the beginning of the 21st century, a number of comprehensive changes to the Education Act have already been implemented. This Fact Sheet describes the most important of these changes.

The Common Folkeskole – The Local Folkeskole

“The Folkeskole” constitutes the free, public school system as well as the individual municipal schools, that is to say the places where the teaching takes place. On the national level, the Danish Folkeskole is regulated by the Folkeskole Act, which provides the overall framework for the schools’ activities.

By means of this Act and the Executive Orders it contains, all municipal primary and lower secondary schools share a common aim, standard requirements concerning the subjects that are to be taught at the specific form levels, standard regulations concerning the so-called Common Objectives for the teaching in the individual subjects, as well as standard regulations concerning the leadership and organisation of the school system. However, it is the responsibility of the individual municipal boards to determine how the municipality’s schools are to be organised in practice, within the framework established by law. The municipal boards themselves determine the municipal level of service for the Folkeskole within this overriding framework and can set their own additional objectives for the schools.

Thus, the Danish Folkeskole is subject to a range of common regulations, and a child who changes schools will, on the whole, find a school routine in the new school familiar to the one he or she has previously attended. On the other hand, there is the freedom to allow for each school to incorporate their own local characteristics.

The individual municipal boards must prepare an annual quality report. The quality report must describe the municipality’s school system, the schools’ academic level, the measures the municipal board has taken in order to evaluate the academic level, and the steps the municipal board has taken in response to the previous quality report.

The Folkeskole in Figures

  • 98 municipalities
  • 1,605 municipal schools
  • 595,573 students
  • 28,591 classes
  • The average number of students per class is 19.6
  • The teacher/student ratio is 1:10.7
  • 50,972 teachers, of which 67 % are women and 47 % are below 45 years
  • 10,491 students receive extensive special educational assistance
  • 59,869 bilingual students.

Agreement on the Danish public school

The agreement on an improvement of standards in the Danish public school (primary and lower secondary education) has been translated into English.

Find the document here