Due to the comprehensiveness of the public school system, there are relatively few primary and lower secondary schools with permanent alternative structures. Norwegian schools enjoy flexibility regarding organizational variations, e.g. age distribution within classes and their organization, though not on a permanent basis. See Education Act, Section 8-2.
Single structure education organized on alternative learning arenas are:
- municipal special schools, with administrative anchoring in ordinary schools.
- education related to long-term stays in other institutions
A prerequisite for using an alternative learning arena for pupils with special needs is that authorities establish an individual decision on special education for the pupil concerned. In this individual decision, it must be stipulated that the pupil should be trained in an alternative training arena. See Education Act Chapter 5.
Children who are hospitalized or admitted to another institution for a longer period of time should be activated and stimulated as far as this is reasonable, based on the individual child's state of health. The institution shall ensure that a suitable area is available and the county authority shall ensure that adequate equipment is provided for teaching, activating and stimulating children at various ages. See Education Act section 2-15, 13-2 and 13-3a.
A few (less than a hundred) pupils are taught at home. In some cases, this is because the parents prefer this kind of family life and have objections to the official school policy. In other cases, the reason is that the local population is not sufficient to maintain a school. Instead of long travel or boarding, the child might stay at home and receive teacher guidance using different kinds of teaching aids. See Education Act section 2-13.
The Independent Schools Act section 2-1 concerns approval of and right to state support for independent schools and the terms on which such support is granted. The objective of the Act is to help facilitate the establishment and operation of independent schools, so that parents and pupils may choose other schools than the public schools.