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Education and Schools

Norway - Education and Schools

Norway introduced compulsory reading lessons for all children as far back as 1736, and primary education became compulsory in 1889. Today all children in Norway must receive full time education from the age of 6 until they are 16, and further training and education after that is strongly encouraged. The school system is based on an inclusive comprehensive model and children are not offered school places on the basis of academic selection.

Kindergarten is an optional stage of education, incorporating childcare and play based learning from the age of one. About half the kindergarten centres are run by the public sector, whilst the rest are run as private businesses which can access public funding for the children enrolled at their centres. Standards of care and education are high, with at least two qualified pre school teachers filling the roles of head teacher and education leader. Children can stay at kindergarten until the age of 6.

There are essentially three parts to the Norwegian school system, which are usually delivered on different school sites:

• primary school, or “Barneskole” for ages 6–13
• lower secondary school, or “Ungdomsskole”, for ages 13–16
• upper secondary school, or “Videregående skole” for ages 16–19

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training is the body responsible for supervising the quality of primary and secondary education.

The beginning of the school year starts with the first semester in mid August, as summer is ending. There is a break for Christmas from mid December until early January, when the second semester gets underway.

Before and after school care must be provided by local government services for children in grades one to four. This legal entitlement is extended to grade seven for children with special needs.

In primary school, which covers grades one to seven, children will learn basic social, literacy and mathematical skills. They are introduced to the English language, along with an introduction to a number of arts and science subjects.

Children are tested when they enter the school, so that the teacher can adapt the programme of learning to the children present. No further official testing will occur in this school, but the teacher will continuously assess each child’s learning and communicate progress back to parents.

Teachers in Kindergarten and Primary school, who will hold bachelor degrees from a university college, are called “Førskolelærer” or “barnehagelærer”. Between the fifth and tenth grades children will be taught by an “Adjunkt”, who holds a bachelor’s degree and an additional teaching qualification.

Children move to the Lower secondary school at the age of 12 or 13, and their progress is now graded at Christmas and at the end of the school year. Once they start the eighth grade, they can choose an elective subject, called a “valgfag”, which is often one of the major European languages. Exams in each subject are normally taken at the end of the tenth grade.

Upper secondary school enrolment is optional, but a combination of skills required for employment and government policies mean most young people do continue their education at this point. The students attending Upper secondary schools are aged between 16 and 19.

They can choose to follow an academic pathway known as the “studiespesialisering” or a vocational studies route called “yrkesfag” which leads to an apprenticeship. They will be taught by a “Lektor”, who holds a university master’s degree and has obtained additional teaching qualifications.

Students who graduate from Upper secondary school are known as “Russ”. The celebratory parties usually take place just before the final exams.

Roughly 96% of secondary school students will attend non fee paying schools financed by the state. Until 2005, private schools in Norway had to demonstrate the religious or pedagogic basis which differentiated them from mainstream schooling and justified their existence. A change in law means private schools can now operate and deliver more traditional mainstream teaching methods.

There are a number of international schools in Norway, teaching in languages and to a curriculum as determined by their founding members. Although all children in Norwegian state schools learn English as a mandatory second language, mainstream teaching takes place in Norwegian. International schools are a good option for families whose children will struggle to maintain academic progress if their Norwegian language skills are limited. Below is a list of some of Norway's popular international schools.

Arendal International School
Julius Smiths vei 40, 4817 His

Asker International School

International School of Bergen
Vilhelm Bjerknesvei 15, 5081 Bergen

Children’s International School
Fredrikstad Torsnesveien 5-7, 1630 Gamle Fredrikstad

Gjøvik Region International School
Studieveien 17, 2815 Gjøvik

Kristiansand International School
Kongsgård Allé 20, 4631 Kristiansand

Kongsberg International School
Dyrmyr Gata 41, 3611 Kongsberg

CIS Moss
Moss Verk 1, 1534 Moss

French School in Oslo
Skovveien 9, 0257 Oslo

German School of Oslo
Sporveisgata 20, 0354 Oslo

Northern Lights International School
Grenseveien 60, 0579 Oslo

Oslo International School
Gamle Ringeriksvei 53, 1357 Bekkestua

International School Telemark
Hovet Ring 7, Porsgrunn

Skagerak International School
Framnesveien 7, 3222 Sandefjord

British International School of Stavanger
Gauselbakken 107, 4032 Stavanger

International School of Stavanger
Treskeveien 3, 4043 Hafrsfjord

Fagerhaug International School Stjørdal

Tromsø International School
Breiviklia 1, 9019 Tromsø

Birralee International School
Bispegate 9c, 7030 Trondheim

Trondheim International School
Festningsgata 2, 7014 Trondheim

Ålesund International School
Borgundvegen 418, 6015 Ålesund

Another alternative education route is the folk high school system. These are boarding schools which charge no tuition fees and offer no exams. Only the board and lodging costs are charged to parents, along with normal incidentals such as school trips. Each folk high school has its own value system, which may be allied to a religious body or follow liberal philosophies.

Once Upper secondary school is complete and the “generell studiekompetanse” exams have been passed, students may apply to study at higher education institutions. Adults over the age of 23 who have 5 years of combined schooling and work experience but did not obtain the “generell studiekompetanse” may also apply if they pass exams in Norwegian, English, mathematics, natural sciences and social studies.

Norway has 8 Universities for academic and high level professional studies. The higher education system is supplemented by University Colleges, which provide training for skilled professional vocations. Business management, marketing and fine arts are also some of the subjects offered at the private higher education institutions, whose enrolled students represent 10% of the country’s student body. Art Academies offer specialised training at a high level, and non-accredited university colleges may offer the first year of a bachelor’s degree.

Those higher education institutions financed and run by the state offer courses free of tuition charge to the students. Private higher education institutions are financed mainly by the tuition fees paid by students.

Although Norway is not a member of the European Union (EU), it is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and signed up to the Bologna System of higher education grade equalisation. This means bachelor degrees in one member country will be of a similar standard to those in another member country. It allows the Norwegian degrees to be recognised and valued in an international employment market.

The quality assurance of Norway’s higher education institutions is provided by the government body NOKUT, who also have responsibility for the tertiary education sector.

Tertiary vocational programmes usually last between six months and two years. They may be provided by state colleges and private institutions. There are no entrance requirements, but the courses must be accredited by NOKUT.

Read more about this country

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