The Norwegian school system

How do schools in Norway work?

Simply stated, the Norwegian school system begins with an offering of preschool/daycare (barnehage in Norwegian) to children aged 1 to 5.  There is no formal kindergarten per se.This is a play-based programme where the focus is on social skills and fun learning.

One surprise for many non-Norwegians is the strong emphasis on outdoor play -- rain, sleet, snow, sun or mid-winter dark, young children play outside during preschool hours. If you don't already own good outdoor play gear for your child before you move to Norway, rest assured that it will be among the first clothing purchases you make. There is a Norwegian expression that translates "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing." You will see this philosophy at work in your young children in the Norwegian school system.

Primary school
At age 6, children start at a local primary school that is within walking distance of the child's residence. Students may not ride their bicycles to school unless they have gone through a safety course at the school, typically offered in Grade 5 or 6. But generally students arrive at school under their own steam, because there is no bussing in Trondheim and because the schools are close enough to people's residences that there is no need to drive.

There continues to be a strong focus on outdoor play, and younger students typically have one day a week where they play outside all day or go on an excursion. The same philosophy applies as is found in barnehage: weather should be no obstacle to outdoor play.

Primary school (barneskole in Norwegian) extends through Grade 7. All schools offer an afterschool programme for children from grades 1 to 4 which is called SFO (Skolefritidsordningene in Norwegian). It is offered for a sliding scale fee based on the number of hours your child is in the programme.

Middle school
Grades 8, 9 and 10 are instructed in a middle school (ungdom skole in Norwegian) that typically draws its attendees from 2 or 3 different primary schools. Unless your student attends a private school, the middle school that your child attends is completely determined by the location of your Trondheim residence.

High school
High schools (videregående skole in Norwegian) in Trondheim extend from grades 11-13. Students are not required to attend high school, but those who want to attend must apply to specific schools in the Trondheim region.

The high schools tend to have specialities that help students advance their careers or simply explore passions, whether academic or work-oriented.  In the Trondheim region, for example, students These specializations help students choose among the many different high school offerings.


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