The educational guidance system
Provision of high-quality guidance services is important at all levels of the education system.
There are three types of guidance units, which are all independent from sectoral and institutional interests:
- 98 municipal youth guidance units provide guidance in relation to the transition from compulsory primary and lower secondary education to upper secondary education or, alternatively, to the labour market;
- Study and Career Guidance Denmark consists of seven regional guidance centres that provide guidance relating to the transition from upper secondary education to higher education or vocational education and training;
- eGuidance provides personal online guidance to all citizens concerning all kinds of education and training via various virtual communication channels, including chat, telephone, E-mail, webinars and social media.
In addition, two national guidance portals exist:
- The Education Guide (www.ug.dk) is a careers information and guidance portal that helps people to find information that enables them to make qualified decisions about education, training and careers;
- Adult Education (www.voksenuddannelse.dk) provides users with information on adult education and continuing training. Among others, the portal contains offers of educational guidance (eGuidance) and a catalogue of courses and education programmes.
At higher educational level, the institutions are obliged to offer guidance to students in a way that enables them to complete their education. The institutions are free to choose their methods and the appropriate staff to support students in completing their education.
At national level, the Ministry of Children and Education and the Ministry of Higher Education and Science are responsible for guidance and have a controlling and coordinating role.
Denmark has signed the Salamanca Declaration, which calls on governments to facilitate Inclusive Education. This is reflected in the way special needs education is organised.
In the public primary and lower secondary education, the principle of inclusion prevails. Inclusion implies that children with special needs, to the greatest extent possible, are taught together with their fellow pupils in mainstream classes. This is done with the necessary support and teaching aids.
Municipalities and schools can provide pupils with support and organise the education in ways that can promote the inclusion of pupils with special needs in the mainstream classes. For instance, by means of differentiated teaching, co-teaching and teaching assistants.
The provisions of the Folkeskole Act regarding aims, curricula, evaluations, tests, school leaving exams etc. apply to all pupils. Accordingly, pupils with special needs are in principle met with the same expectations as any other pupil.
Special needs education
In most cases, the pupil remains in a mainstream class and receives special needs education in one or more subjects as a supplement to the general teaching. However, not all pupils benefit from remaining in the mainstream class.
Special needs education is education in special classes and education in mainstream classes where the pupil receives support at least nine hours a week. Pupils who need support in less than nine hours a week are to receive support within the mainstream classes.
Special needs education encompasses the following:
- Guidance to parents, teachers and others who contribute to the pupil’s development;
- Special teaching material and teaching aids that are necessary when instructing the pupil;
- Instruction in the subjects of the Danish public school, which is organised in consideration of the pupil’s learning abilities;
- Instruction and training in working methods that aim at reducing the impact of the pupil’s physical, psychological, linguistic or sensory disabilities;
- Personal assistance that can help the pupil manage practical difficulties in relation to school attendance;
- Specially organised activities.
A pupil can receive special needs education in different ways:
- A pupil receives special needs education that substitutes for the pupil’s participation in the normal education in one or more subjects;
- A pupil is taught in a special class either within a mainstream school or within a special school;
- A combination is possible, in which the pupil is a member of either a mainstream class or a special class, but receives education in both types of classes.
Special classes may be organised for students with intellectual disabilities, dyslexia, hearing problems or the like.
Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education, 2020: Guidance in Education - the educational guidance system in Denmark. [Accessed 21 October 2022]
Ministry of Children and Education, 2022: Additional information. [Accessed 20 October 2022]
Ministry of Children and Education (Børne- og Undervisningsministeriet), 2022: Rules for special needs education (Regler for specialundervisning). [Accessed 20 October 2022]
Legislation and Official Policy documents
Legal Information (Retsinformation), 2014: Act on special needs education and other special needs assistance in the Folkeskole (Bekendtgørelse om folkeskolens specialundervisning og anden specialpædagogisk bistand), BEK no 693 of 20/06/2014. [Accessed 21 October]