Skip to main content
European Commission logo


EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Single-structure primary and lower secondary education


5.Single-structure primary and lower secondary education

Last update: 27 November 2023
On this page


Swedish compulsory education has a single structure that corresponds to primary and lower secondary education for children (International Standard Classification of Education, ISCED, levels 1 and 2). For more information on the Swedish education system please see förskoleklass) and the leisure-time centres (fritidshem) that cater for pupils outside of school hours. The preschool class, which is usually integrated in the compulsory schools, is described in chapter 4 - Early Childhood Education and Care.

Compulsory schools (grundskolor) can be run either by municipalities or as grant-aided independent schools (fristående skolor). For more information on grant-aided independent schools see chapter 2.4 - Organisation of Private Education. Schools at compulsory level - municipal and independent - are funded by municipal grants from the pupils' home municipality and by state grants, i.e. are grant-aided and free of charge. There are no private, fee charging, schools at compulsory level. Grant-aided schools are not allowed to charge fees.

A school usually comprises either of preschool class to year five/six, or year five/six to nine. An increasing number of municipalities organise the whole of compulsory school on the same premises to increase integration between the stages and to promote an overall approach to compulsory education.

The size of schools varies greatly – in rural areas, there are parts of the country with very few inhabitants. One fifth of municipal schools and more than one third of grant-aided independent schools have less than 100 pupils. Some schools work with integrated age levels where children of different ages are taught together in the same class. This can be done as a pedagogical method or just in order to be able to keep a local school from closing.

A large proportion of the children in the earlier school years attend school-age childcare before and after school hours, as well as during holidays. The youngest children usually attend leisure-time centres (fritidshem) while older children can attend open leisure-time activities. It is common that personnel from the leisure-time centres work in school classes during school hours and leisure-time activities often take place in school after class. For more information on school-age childcare see chapter 4 - Early Childhood Education and Care.

The general goals for the compulsory school are laid down in the first chapter of the Education Act (Skollagen). The curriculum for the compulsory school, preschool class and the leisure-time centre is valid across Sweden. All schools should base their work on the same fundamental values of democracy and human rights and ensure that all pupils embrace these values. Local planning must seek to give practical expression to the goals and guidelines for the education as set out in the Education Act, the curriculum and syllabi. The goals for the education are expressed as knowledge, skills and attitudes that the pupils are to get during their compulsory school. The choice of tools and methods are not regulated but are a part of the decentralised steering of the school system and left to the individual school organiser to decide upon.

The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket)