Types of Institutions

There are different ways of meeting the rules pertaining to compulsory education: by attending the municipal folkeskole, a private school, by home tuition, or as far as the last 2-3 years of the basic school are concerned by attending one of the alternative school forms: the efterskole, or the youth schools.

Municipal folkeskole
Municipal folkeskoles have about 88% of all pupils of compulsory school age. They provide basic education free of charge to children between the ages of 7 and 16, or through the voluntary pre-school, the 9 years of compulsory education, to the voluntary 10th year.

There are three different types of Folkeskoles, those with a pre-school and 1st-10th form levels, those with a pre-school and 1st-7th form levels, and those with only three or more consecutive form levels. The latter may be placed under the management of another school, unless the enrollment is more than 100.

Compulsory education can thus not be met fully in the second or third type of schools, and students in such school have to switch schools after the 7th form. The first type of school is common in areas with large pupil-basis, whereas more thinly populated municipalities may have a number of the second and third type school and only one or two of the first type. The smallest school has six students and the largest 892, with the average school containing 320 pupils (1999).

Admission requirements
Any child resident in Denmark is subject to 10 years of compulsory education from the age of 6 to 16. The first year is pre-school, referred to as kindergarten class or 0th form. An additional non-compulsory 10th form is offered at many schools. Children who are to live in Denmark for a minimum of 6 months are subject to the regulations on compulsory education. Compulsory education means an obligation to participate in the teaching of the folkeskole or in a teaching which is comparable to what is usually required in the folkeskole.

Compulsory education commences on 1 August of the calendar year of the child's 6th birthday, and it terminates on 31 July, when the child has received regular instruction for 10 years. At the request of the parents or with their consent, a child's education may be postponed to one year after the normal commencement of compulsory education, when such a step is justified by the child's development. A child may also -- at the request of their parents, and if they are considered able to follow the instruction -- be admitted before their 6th birthday.

Private schools
As of 2013, Private, or free elementary, schools cater to 15.6% of students in 2004/05 of basic school age having risen from 12.9% of students in 2004/05.

In the spring of 1991, the Danish Parliament adopted a new private school act, which introduced a new public grant system for private schools giving them a grant towards the operational expenditures per pupil per year, which in principle matches the corresponding public expenditures in the municipal schools - less the fees paid by the parents of the pupils in the private schools.

In 1999, the average grant towards the operational expenditures per pupil per year amounted to DKK 34,134 (USD 5,500) and the average fees paid by the parents amounted to DKK 6,942 (USD 1,100).

Private schools can be roughly divided into the following categories:
Small "Grundtvigian" independent schools in rural districts.
Religious or congregational schools, such as Catholic or Danish mission schools
Progressive free schools
International Schools such as Copenhagen International School
Schools with a particular pedagogical objective, such as the Waldorf schools
German minority schools
Immigrant schools such as Muslim schools

Private schools are recognised and receive government financing regardless of the ideological, religious, political, or ethnic motivation behind their establishment. Some private schools are very old, some quite new, and new ones are added all the time. It is characteristic of the private schools that they are smaller than municipal schools.
All that is demanded of private schools is that their teaching equal that of the municipal schools. The Ministry of Education confers on private schools the right to use the final examinations of the folkeskole, thereby exercising a certain extent of quality control. In principle, however, it is not up to any government authority but to the parents of each private school to check that its performance measures up to the demands set for the municipal schools.
The parents must themselves choose a supervisor to check the pupils' level of achievement in Danish, arithmetic, mathematics, and English. If the school is found inadequate, the supervisor must report it to the municipal school authority. In extraordinary circumstances, the Ministry of Education may establish special supervision, for example if there is reason to believe that the school teaches a subject so poorly that it may give the pupils problems later on in life.

Educational experts say the rise in use of private schools in the 2000s is partly due to white Danish families putting their children in private schools when the neighbouring public school gets more than 30% pupils of immigrant background. About 24% of pupils grade 1-3 in Copenhagen attend private schools. Another factor is parents in small communities who have organized to start a private school when small public schools have closed as a results of the Danish municipality reform which led to fewer municipalities.

Levels and age groups
The folkeskole consists of an obligatory pre-school class, the 9-year obligatory course and a voluntary 11th year and a year in the beginning. It thus caters for pupils aged 6 to 17.

The comprehensive concept of the folkeskole enables students to remain in the same student group with the same classmates from the 1st to the 10th (or 11th) form, sharing the same experiences in all subjects with peers of all types of backgrounds and covering the whole range of ability.

The new act, which came into effect for the school year 1994-95, has abolished the division of the subjects of arithmetic, mathematics, English, German, physics, and chemistry into basic and advanced level courses in the 8th to 10th forms, introducing a system of differentiated teaching, by which the teachers have to adapt their teaching to the prerequisites of the individual pupil.

General objectives
Section 1 of the Act of the Folkeskole of 1994 states that:
"The folkeskole shall -- in co-operation with the parents -- further the pupils' acquisition of knowledge, skills, working methods and ways of expressing themselves and thus contribute to the all-round personal development of the individual pupil.

"The folkeskole shall endeavour to create such opportunities for experience, industry and absorption that the pupils develop awareness, imagination and an urge to learn, so that they acquire confidence in their own possibilities and a background for forming independent judgements and for taking personal action.

"The folkeskole shall familiarise the pupils with Danish culture and contribute to their understanding of other cultures and of man's interaction with nature. The school shall prepare the pupils for active participation, joint responsibility, rights and duties in a society based on freedom and democracy. The teaching of the school and its daily life must therefore build on intellectual freedom, equality and democracy."