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Expat Exchange - Educational System in Norway
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Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway


Educational System in Norway

By Betsy Burlingame

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Summary: The one tip that you hear expats living in Norway repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to Norway. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that Norway is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in Norway.

Norway is renowned for its high-quality education system, which is free and accessible to all children and young people. The Norwegian education system is designed to provide equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances. This guide will provide an overview of the main stages of education in Norway, how to enroll your children in school, language requirements, the availability of bilingual schools, types of private schools, costs, and the possibilities for homeschooling and online schooling.

What are the main stages of education in Norway?

The Norwegian education system is divided into three main stages: primary school (grunnskole), lower secondary school (ungdomsskole), and upper secondary school (videregående skole). Primary school covers grades 1-7, lower secondary school covers grades 8-10, and upper secondary school covers grades 11-13. Education is compulsory for all children aged 6-16.

Primary School (Grunnskole)

Primary school in Norway, known as grunnskole, is for children aged 6-13 and covers grades 1-7. The curriculum focuses on basic skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as introducing children to subjects like science, social studies, English, music, physical education, and arts and crafts. The aim is to provide a broad base of knowledge and promote curiosity and a love of learning.

Lower Secondary School (Ungdomsskole)

Lower secondary school, or ungdomsskole, is for students aged 13-16 and covers grades 8-10. This stage of education builds on the knowledge and skills acquired in primary school and prepares students for upper secondary school. The curriculum includes more advanced subjects, and students are graded for the first time.

Upper Secondary School (Videregående Skole)

Upper secondary school, or videregående skole, is for students aged 16-19 and covers grades 11-13. This stage is not compulsory but is attended by most students. It offers general academic education for those planning to go to university and vocational training for those planning to enter the workforce.

How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?

Newcomers to Norway can enroll their children in school by contacting the local municipality or the school directly. You will need to provide your child's passport, residence permit, and previous school records. If you arrive during the school year, your child will usually be placed in a class with children of the same age.

Can my children enroll in a public school if they are still learning Norwegian?

Yes, children who are still learning Norwegian can enroll in public schools. They will usually receive additional Norwegian language lessons to help them catch up. Some schools also offer mother tongue tuition or bilingual instruction for minority language students.

Are there public bilingual schools?

There are a few public bilingual schools in Norway, mainly in larger cities like Oslo and Bergen. These schools offer instruction in both Norwegian and another language, often English. Admission is usually based on language proficiency and availability of places.

What types of private schools are common in Norway?

Private schools in Norway include religious schools, international schools, and Montessori schools. International schools often offer instruction in English and follow an international curriculum. They are popular with expat families, although they can be quite expensive.

Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?

Many expats in Norway choose to send their children to public schools to immerse them in the local culture and language. However, some prefer private international schools, especially if they plan to move to another country in the future or if their children do not speak Norwegian.

How expensive are private schools in Norway?

Private school fees in Norway can vary widely, but they are generally quite high. International schools can cost anywhere from 50,000 to 150,000 NOK per year. Some schools offer scholarships or reduced fees for families with multiple children attending.

Are you allowed to homeschool while living in Norway?

Homeschooling is legal in Norway, but it is not very common. Parents who choose to homeschool must follow the national curriculum and are subject to regular inspections by the local education authority.

May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in Norway?

Online schooling is an option in Norway, especially for older students in upper secondary school. However, it is not as common as traditional schooling and may not be suitable for all students, especially younger ones who benefit from social interaction at school.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway

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