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Organisation of single-structure education

Denmark

5.Single-structure primary and lower secondary education

5.1Organisation of single-structure education

Last update: 24 June 2024

Geographical accessibility

The municipalities are obliged to provide access to education for all children living in the municipality. If the distance to the school is too long or unsafe, a child is entitled to transportation between the school and the child’s home. The municipality, the child resides in, assesses whether the criteria are fulfilled and provides the school transportation. Sick and disabled children are entitled to transportation regardless of distance.

Admission requirements and choice of school

Education is compulsory for ten years. This entails an obligation to participate in the Danish public school (Folkeskole) or an education that measures up to what is required in the public school. The responsibility of registering children in the public school or an equivalent school lies with the municipal council. Compulsory education applies to all children permanently residing or staying a minimum of six months in the country. Children, whose development requires special support, are given special needs education and other special educational assistance in special classes and special schools. The responsibility of providing special needs education and assistance lies with the municipal council.

Compulsory education becomes effective on 1 August in the calendar year in which the child turns six years and terminates on 31 July when the child has received basic school for ten years or when the child turns 17 years. It is possible for a child to start school earlier. However, it requires that the child turns five before 1 October and that the child can follow the education. A child may also start school up to one year later. The decision on moving forward or postponing the commencement of school is based on an individual assessment and lies with the municipal council.

Every child is, according to his or her address, assigned to a district school. However, parents can also apply for admission to another school of their own free choice, both within and outside of the municipality of residence. Admission to a school of the parents’ choice depends on vacancy and relevant education options.

It is the responsibility of the municipal council to set guidelines regarding admission when there are more applicants than vacant seats at the school. Such guidelines must build on objective criteria such as distance, siblings etc.

Age levels and grouping of pupils

The Danish public school is a single structure school covering both primary and lower secondary education. It encompasses a 10-year basic school consisting of one year of pre-school, nine years of primary and lower secondary education and an optional one-year 10th form.

Several teachers are attached to a class depending on the subjects and the teachers’ main subjects in the initial teaching education programme. However, each class has a class teacher with the main responsibility for the class. As a rule, the same class teacher follows the class up until the 6th form, after which the class obtains a new class teacher. Usually, the Danish teacher is the class teacher.

The pupils are divided into classes based on their age. The main rule is that pupils attend classes with pupils of their own age. However, it is possible for teaching to take place in teams consisting of pupils from other classes at the same level or from other levels. This possibility is available to sustain the principle that all pupils should be given adequate challenges. Nevertheless, it is a requirement that the pupils must be taught in their own class during the majority of the teaching period.

The Folkeskole act regulates the number of students in each class and the maximum number is 28 pupils in each class. However, under special circumstances, the municipal council can allow more pupils, but never more than 30.

Organisation of the school year

Normally, a school year is 40 weeks corresponding to 200 days. The number of hours the pupils have to be at school is regulated under the Folkeskole Act and is the following:

  • For preschool and 1st to 3rd form: a minimum of 1110 hours during a school year;
  • For 4th to 6th form: a minimum of 1320 hours during a school year;
  • For 7th to 9th form: 1400 hours during a school year.

The schools and the municipalities decide the number of school days.

School starts in the middle of August and terminates at the end of June. During the school year, there is a week-long holiday in October and one in February. Furthermore, school is closed during Christmas, New Year, Easter and a number of public/religious holidays. For more information on the organisation of the school year and holidays, please visit: The Organisation of School Time in Europe 2022/23.

Organisation of the school day and week

A school week is five days from Monday to Friday and the responsibility of organising the school day and week lies with the individual school within the framework provided by the municipal council in accordance with the Folkeskole Act. The schools are obliged to establish homework assistance and ensure 45 minutes of exercise on average a day.

Breaks are included in the total number of the annually required hours. The Folkeskole Act does not regulate the extent or location of the breaks as this is a local decision.

The schools and the municipalities decide how to organise the length of the school days. However, education usually takes place between 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

References

Bibliography

Ministry of Children and Education, 2022: Commencement of school and compulsory education (Skolestart og undervisningspligt). [Accessed 20 May 2022]

Ministry of Children and Education, 2022: Free choice of school (Frit skolevalg). [Accessed 20 May 2022]

Ministry of Children and Education, 2018: Classes & Class Teacher. [Accessed 20 May 2022]

Legislation and Official Policy documents

Legal Information (Retsinformation), 2024: The Folkeskole Act (Bekendtgørelse af lov om folkeskolen), LBK no. 90 of 29/01/2024. [Accessed 24 June 2024]