Universal schooling for children was introduced in Norway 250 years ago. From 1889, seven years of compulsory education were provided, 1969 this was increased to nine years and in 1997 to 10 years.
As a result of Norway’s scattered population, forty per cent of primary and lower secondary schools are so small that children of different ages are taught in the same classroom. Primary and lower secondary levels are often combined in the same school.
Primary School ages 6 to 12 (grades 1-7) is a right, obligation and free of charge.
Lower Secondary School ages 13 to 15 (grades 8-10) is a right, obligation and free of charge.
Upper Secondary School ages 16 and up, is a right but not an obligation and free of charge.
The collective objectives and principles for teaching in primary and lower secondary schools are laid down in the national curriculum. The curriculum for primary and lower secondary education includes: Core curriculum for primary and lower secondary, upper secondary and adult education, Principles and guidelines for primary and lower secondary education, Curricula for individual subjects. The subject curricula lay down a common learning content for all pupils, which increases in scope throughout the school and is greatest at the lower secondary stage. This common learning content is enlarged on and supplemented to adapt it to local conditions and to the needs of individual pupils.
School subjects at primary and lower secondary levels
Christian knowledge and religious and ethical education
Art and Crafts
English (compulsory foreign language from grade 1)
Foreign Language/Language in-depth studiesFood and Health
Student Council Work
Optional Programme Subject
In addition to the compulsory subjects, pupils are required to choose one of the following:
Second foreign language. Pupils can choose a foreign language in addition to English, i.e. German or French or another language on the basis of local or regional needs. Supplementary language study. Pupils can choose additional in-depth study of a language they already have a basic knowledge of.
For deaf pupils, curricula have been set up for Norwegian sign language as a first language, supplementary study of Norwegian Sign Language, special syllabuses in Norwegian, English and Drama and Rhythmics for deaf pupils.
Day-care facilities for school children (Skolefritidsordning SFO)
In many families, both parents are out at work during the day. If they have children in the lower primary school, they may therefore need day-care facilities for them both before and after school hours. Day-care facilities for school children must provide facilities for play and for participation in cultural and recreational activities appropriate for the age, level of physical ability and interests of the children.
Such day-care facilities must also provide satisfactory development conditions for children with physical disabilities. From 1 January 1999, all municipalities in Norway have been legally obliged to provide day-care facilities before and after school hours for children attending the first four grades.
This is a voluntary service and the parents/caregivers are responsible for payment. Other types of activity- and sports-fritidsordning are also available. As an alternative, children can be placed in the care of another family member or a nanny.
Primary and lower secondary education is based on the principle of an equal and adapted education for all in an inclusive unified school. The introduction of the reform “Knowledge Promotion” has provided all grades with new curricula with clearly stated competence objectives. The curriculum has emphasized basic skills in being able to express oneself orally and in writing, in reading, in numeracy and in the use of digital tools. The municipalities fund primary and lower secondary education and have a great deal of freedom when it comes to organizing the education. Compulsory schooling in Norway lasts for ten years, and the children start school the year they are six years old.
Sports and other extra-curricular activities
Sports offered within the public school system are limited to one or two sessions of physical education a week. For other sports and extra-curricular activities, parents need to look outside the school.
All young people between the ages of 16 and 19 have a right to upper secondary education and training. The pupils can choose between vocational education program’s or program’s for general studies. All levels in upper secondary education and training are adopting new curricula with clearly stated competence objectives. The curricula place a general emphasis on basic skills in being able to express oneself orally and in writing, in reading, in numeracy and in the use of digital tools. The county authorities fund upper secondary education and training and have a great deal of freedom when it comes to organizing the education. The vocational education program’s include training in training establishments or education in school.
Upper secondary education and training is organised in 12 different education
Programmes for General Studies:
- Programme for Specialisation in General Studies
- Programme for Sports and Physical Education
- Programme for Music, Dance and Drama
Vocational Education Programmes:
- Programme for Building and Construction
- Programme for Design, Arts and Crafts
- Programme for Electricity and Electronics
- Programme for Health and Social Care
- Programme for Media and Communication
- Programme for Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry
- Programme for Restaurant and Food Processing
- Programme for Service and Transport
- Programme for Technical and Industrial Production
Tertiary vocational education is an alternative to higher education and is based on upper secondary education and training or equivalent informal and non-formal competence. Higher Education Entrance Qualification is not required. The education consists of vocational courses lasting from half a year to two years. Apart from the traditional schools of technical management and maritime subjects which are publicly financed (by the county authorities), most of the schools offering this kind of education are private ones. All courses
must be accredited by the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT). An up-to-date list of recognised courses can be found on
You can find a list of primary and secondary schools in your area from your municipality’s website, under ‘skoler’ or ‘skole & utdanning’.
Your children might find Minskole.no useful.