Private schools, small schools and free schools

It typically costs between DKK 1,000 and DKK 2,000 per month to attend a private school

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Despite the different designations, the concept is the same: a self-owning institution operating a school within the framework described in the “Act on free schools and private primary schools”. The schools are based on different basic values. A common factor is that they reflect the parent group.

The income of the free primary schools is primarily based on state subsidies and parent payments. Around 18 percent of Danish schoolchildren attend a free primary school.

The size of school fees varies greatly from school to school and from urban to rural areas. A school in the countryside typically costs around DKK 1,000 a month per pupil, while school fees in the cities varies more and is typically between DKK 1,000 and DKK 2,000 per month (2016).

In most schools, a full or partial free admission is available and sibling discounts may be available. The exact rates and schemes are available from the individual private school or free school.

You should apply to the free primary school(s) of interest to you. Each school has its own regulations for registration and acceptance, but in most cases it is a good idea to register your child well in advance.

If your child is offered a place at a free primary school, you can choose to contact the municipal district school which the child would otherwise have attended and explain that you do not need the place. In this way, the school can have a better overview of potential free places. 

Education in a free primary school must be on a par with what is provided in state primary schools (folkeskoler), and the schools aim to prepare the pupils to live in a society such as Denmark, with freedom and democracy.

The schools can choose to call the subjects something different from the state primary schools and let the objectives of the subjects form part of different combinations and sequences. The schools are free to fulfil the requirements in harmony with the beliefs of the schools and the way they wish to organise the education.

The Danish Ministry of Education supervises the free primary schools. The part of supervision relating to the quality of education is the responsibility of the Education and Quality Board.

In order to get an overview of the whole area, the Board can choose to consider whether one or more schools need special attention, e.g. because of low grades in the state primary school examinations.

Investigations can be initiated on the basis of approaches to the Board from parents or others. The Board does not deal with appeals. However, approaches to the Board on conditions in a free primary school may lead to an inspection if one or another parent give the Board information about a school which may create concern about the quality of the overall education of the school. In extreme cases, the Board can remove the subsidy from a free primary school and the right to be a free primary school.

In order to ensure the quality of education, the schools need to choose one or more external supervisors, or the school must carry out self-evaluation using an evaluation model approved by the Ministry. Self-evaluation ensures that the evaluation of a school can give the parents and Board of the school and the Education and Quality Board the opportunity to assess whether the school meets the requirements of the Free School Act. If the school chooses an external supervisor, regulations are laid down in the Act on free primary schools on what supervision involves and newly-selected supervisors must be certified.

For many free primary schools, the school examinations are an important final objective in the education, but some schools do not offer examinations. It must be clearly stated on the school website if the school does not conduct primary school examinations and the school must inform parents of new pupils that the school does not conduct examinations.

If you wish to complain about a free primary school, you should contact the school Head or Board. Subsequently, if you are still worried about, for example, the general level of education or other conditions at the school, you should contact the Ministry of Children and Education.

Last updated: 12 December 2020