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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation of centre-based ECEC


4.Early childhood education and care

4.2Organisation of centre-based ECEC

Last update: 15 July 2022

Admission requirements and choice of ECEC setting


Preschool is for children aged one to five. The municipality is responsible for offering a place in a preschool as close to the child's home as possible. Reasonable regard shall also be given to the guardians' wishes. 

There is a "principle of proximity" (närhetsprincipen), which means that the child should be offered a place at a preschool as close to the home as possible. If a child lives closer to a preschool in another municipality it is possible for the child to access that preschool, especially if the child's particular needs would be better fulfilled in that preschool. Such needs could be access to a preschool in the child's native language if it is an official Swedish minority language, if the child has special educational needs that cannot be met at the preschool in the municipality of residence or if the child's parents live in different municipalities. Municipalities in rural areas often make arrangements so that children can attend the nearest preschool, regardless of municipality. In those cases the municipality of residence compensates the municipality where the child attends preschool.

Preschool class for 6-year-olds

The one year of preschool class is mandatory for all children living in Sweden from the year that they turn six. Parents choose which preschool class the child shall attend. If a place in a chosen school is not available and the municipality places the pupil elsewhere, the decision cannot be appealed. 

Group size and child/staff ratios


The maximum number of children per group is not regulated. However, there is a recommendation by the National Agency for Education that the group size in preschool should be 6-12 children for ages 1-3 years and 9-15 children for the ages 4-5 years. The average size of a group among children aged 1-3 years was 12.2 in 2019 (statistics database of the Swedish National Agency for Education). For children aged 4-5 years in 2019 the average group size was 15.5.  

There are no regulations on the number of children per full-time member of staff in preschool. The average number of children per full-time member of staff in 2019 was 5.2 in preschool.

There is no minimum qualification level for staff working with children in preschools but the staff should have either education or experience of how to promote the development and learning of children. There must be at least one person who is an educated preschool teacher with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in Preschool Education in each preschool. In 2019 the share of staff working with children at preschools having a degree in Preschool education was 39.5 percent (statistics database of the Swedish National Agency for Education). An additional 1.6 percent had a degree in other School education. Another important group of employees (18%) at preschools are childminders with a vocational degree on secondary level.

Preschool class

Group size and child/staff ratio for preschool class are not regulated, nor are there any official statistics about them. 

To work as a teacher in preschool class it is necessary to have either a Degree of Bachelor of Arts in Pre-School Education (förskollärarexamen) or a Degree of Master of Arts in Primary Education with a specialisation in teaching in early years classes and grades 1-3 of the compulsory school (grundlärarexamen) (for more details on Tearcher Education see chapter 9.1).

Annual, weekly and daily organisation


Preschools are open throughout the year subject to need. Preschools have the opening hours determined by the municipality, both regarding the year and the day organisation. The municipality is however not obligated to offer preschool during evenings, nights, weekends or in connection to major weekends. A municipality might for example state that the preschools should be open all weekdays except bank holidays between 6.30 in the morning and 6.30 p.m. The municipalities make assessments locally in consultation with parents and preschool staff to know the needs of the children and their families. 

The municipality should aim to offer care for children during the times that they do not offer preschool as much as it is necessary based on the parents' employment and the family's situation in general (care at uncomfortable times, chapter 4.5).

There is no strict timetable for preschool, and neither is there any regulation as to how time should be allocated to various activities. The distribution of the daily workload is decided in each preschool. 

An agreement is made between parents and the municipality that the municipality shall be responsible for the care of children during a given part of the day. The municipality documents this agreement. Preschools are usually open between 6.30 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. Monday to Friday. 

Preschool class

Pupils in the preschool class are enrolled from the autumn term the calendar year they turn six, even though exceptions may occur. Pupils are enrolled for one school year.  

The preschool class follows the same structure of the school year as the rest of the compulsory school. For more information on the organisation of the year for compulsory school see 5.1 - Organisation of the School Year.

There is no timetable for the preschool class; the daily workload distribution is decided at each school or institution. The mandatory activities in the preschool class can however not cover more than 190 days per school year or more than six hours per day. The school must structure the education so that the students have sufficient opportunities to rest and play, based on their age and needs. The best interest of the child should always be the starting point when the activities in preschool classes are planned. The aim and the core contents of preschool class are regulated in the Curriculum for the compulsory school, preschool class and the leisure-time centre.

Leisure-time centres

Leisure-time centres operate during the times of day and year when preschool classes are closed for enrolled children whose parents are working or studying or for children who are in need of the facilities.

As for the preschool class, there aren’t any regulations as to how time should be allocated to various activities in the leisure-time centres.