Primary and Secondary Schools in Denmark

About Primary and Secondary Schools in Denmark

Primary education in Denmark, similar to most places in the world, forms the first stage of compulsory education. It is considered instrumental for developing basic literacy and numeracy amongst students, as well as for laying the foundation for science, mathematics, geography, history and other social sciences. In Denmark, primary education is compulsory for everyone between the ages of seven and 16.

Danish primary and lower secondary education are based on the Danish Education Act and include nine years of mandatory primary schooling. However, kindergarten, which is for children between the ages of five to seven years, is optional.
Primary and lower secondary schooling in Denmark includes three types of schools, namely public schools, private Schools and international schools.

The "Folkeskole" is a free, public school system as well as individual Danish Municipal Primary and Lower Secondary Schools, governed by the Folkeskole Act.  These schools comprehensively teach seven to 17 year old students in two stages of grade based education.  The first stage includes grades 1 to 6 and second includes grades 7 to 9.  The 10th grade is optional for the age group of 15 – 18 years.

Approximately 595,573 students study in these public schools with an average strength of about 20 students per class.  The teacher/student ratio is usually around 1:11.

In addition, approximately 91,000 students attend private schools, which are recognized and financially supported by the government. In principle these private schools are smaller as compared to public schools.

International schools are for children with foreign parents living in Denmark on a temporary basis. International schools typically impart education in languages other than Danish.

The coursework in primary and lower secondary schools in Denmark comprises three compulsory subject areas: 1) Subjects in the humanities, 2) Practical/Creative Subjects & 3) Science Subjects.  Apart from these disciplines, education on topics like road safety, health and sex education, family studies, and educational, vocational and labor market orientation are also mandatory in the curriculum of primary schools.

Post 9th grade, students have to take the Folkeskole final examinations. These examinations are compulsory and are a parameter for assessing a student’s academic prowess. After the completion of 10th Grade, candidates again have an opportunity to sit for an examination in the prescribed subjects. Moreover, candidates can also choose a combination of 9th and 10th form level examinations. All these examinations are assessed by a 7-point grading scale.

Upper secondary education is not compulsory in Denmark and is for students in the age group of 16 – 19 years. It is primarily structured into four divergent education programs, namely: The Gymnasium (stx), The Higher Prepatory Examination (hf), The Higher Technical Examination Programme (htx) and The Higher Commercial Examination Programme (hhx).

STX, HHX, and HTX are three year programs with an eligibility criterion of successfully completing 9th grade, or in other words completion of nine years of basic schooling. While HF is a two year course and is open only for candidates with 10 years of basic schooling.

Apart from these, there are Basic Vocational Education and Training (egu), Vocational Education and Training (vet), Production Schools and the International Upper Schools, which also form part of the upper secondary education in Denmark.

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