Primary schools in Sweden
In Sweden primary school (Grundskola) lasts nine years and is divided into two stages: the first five years (låg- och mellanstadiet) and the last four years (högstadiet), which correspond to lower secondary education.
There are no strict regulations regarding which school a child attends – they are entitled to enrol at their local school or, alternatively, they can choose a different school either in the same municipality or in a neighbouring one. Independent schools have existed since 1992 and operate through a voucher system. They are in competition with one another and receive financing through the students’ vouchers. These schools must be approved by the State and follow the educational guidelines set up by the Swedish Government. This means that children can enrol in independent and private schools for free. A number of international schools participate in this scheme, such as the International English School, which is present throughout most of Sweden.
A typical school day in Sweden will start at 08:15 and finish at about 15:30. The school year runs from August to June.
The curriculum for primary and lower secondary education in Sweden consists of a number of compulsory courses, as well as some optional ones for the older age-groups. English is the compulsory second language and it is started during the first five years of primary school. Students with a better level of English can make Swedish their second language and English their first one. Individual schools can decide when they start teaching languages, but the students must reach the national requirements by the fifth year of primary school. A third language is also compulsory and students can choose from German, French or Italian.
Children who do not speak Swedish and have a foreign language as their mother tongue are still entitled to be educated in Swedish primary and lower secondary schools.
International schools in Sweden
Some international schools participate in the voucher system. Those which don’t may have very expensive fees. The enrolment procedure varies from school to school and the more popular international schools have a waiting list.