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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. Education itself is compulsory, school is not.

The Folkeskole was founded in 1814. 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: 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 they have previously attended. On the other hand, there is the freedom to allow for each school to incorporate its own local characteristics.

The individual municipal boards must carry out annual dialogues between school and municipality on the school’s challenges and development in order to create a good framework for the professional development and well-being of the pupils. In preparation for the dialogue the principal of a school looks into the development at their school, making it possible for the school to set the direction for dialogue about and focus for development, within the framework for the municipality’s schools, set by the municipal board. The municipal board and administration provide input based on the strategic framework for the school system.

Agreement on the Danish public school

The agreement on an improvement of standards in the Danish Folkeskole (primary and lower secondary education) has been translated into English. Find the document here.


Last modified 3. april 2023