K-12 Education System in Sweden

The Swedish education system provides many education opportunities for children of all age groups. These opportunities cover regular schooling as well as education for children with learning disabilities. Apart from regular education, extracurricular activities or after school programs are also provided.
The Swedish Education Act states that all children are to have equal access to education. Attendance at school is mandatory for all children starting at the age of seven till the age of 16. 

History of the Swedish School System

In the year 1842, mandatory education was introduced in Sweden. After a few years, in 1952, co-educational education started along with nine years of compulsory schooling. In 1962, the school system got its name ‘Grundskola’, and also the first national school curriculum was set up in the same year. The Ministry of Education took the responsibility of the pre-schools in 1966. In 1968, a Special Service Act was executed, establishing that all kids are eligible to education, including children with learning disabilities. In 1994, certain changes were made in teaching methods and materials. In 1997, as per the Swedish Education Act, students within compulsory education are provided with free lunches. Later in 1998, all the pre-schools got their own national curriculum and every school need to follow it. The new Act Prohibiting Discrimination and Other Degrading Treatment of Children and School Students were introduced in 2006. In 2011, a raft of school reforms was introduced, including a new system of teacher education and earlier grading. Professional certification was made mandatory for school and nursery school teachers in the year 2013.

Compulsory Education in Sweden

An Elementary/Primary school for years 1 to 3, followed by middle school for years 4 to 6 and then secondary or high school for years 7 to 9 is compulsory for all individuals to attend. Children between the age group 6 and 13 are given out-of-school care before and after school hours. This can be at an after-school centre, or a day-care centre.

Swedish Schools for Different Needs

Compulsory education includes special schools, Sami schools  and programs for pupils with mental disabilities (sarskolor). Special schools are designed and resourced to provide proper education to kids having hearing difficulties, or who suffer impaired vision along with other difficulties.

Swedish Nursery Schools

Nursery school includes kindergarten. It is for kids between the age group of 1-5 years. The nursery school focuses on the value of fun and amusement in a child’s growth and learning. The wants and interest of kids are an integral part of their learning and education in the nursery school syllabus. Gender-aware education is also imparted in nursery schools in Sweden. The objective is for kids to receive the equivalent opportunities throughout, irrespective of gender.

Primary and Lower Secondary Schools in Sweden

In Sweden primary school (Grundskola) runs for nine years. It is split into two different levels
  • The first five years, known as Primary School (lag- och mellanstadiet )
  • The last four years, referred to as high school (hogstadiet). It corresponds to lower secondary education.
These schools are approved by the State and follow the educational rules and regulations established by the Swedish Government. 
The curriculum for primary and lower secondary education in Sweden encompasses a number of compulsory, as well as some optional courses. English is the compulsory second language and it is taught during the first five years of primary school. Individual schools determined on the teaching of language courses, but the students must attain the national requisite by the fifth year of primary school. A study of third language is also mandatory and students can choose from Italian, German, or French.

Upper Secondary Schools in Sweden

Upper Secondary School, also referred to as high school or gymnasium is not compulsory to attend and even no fee is charged. An upper secondary school program lasts for 3 years. All the students who complete their nine years of mandatory education can go for upper secondary school. 
Upper secondary education is split into 17 different national programs, which combine compulsory and optional courses. These 17 programs are sub-divided into 13 vocational courses and 4 academic choices. There are some individual programs as well that are intended for students with learning difficulties.

The 17 different programs have eight common core subjects: English, Mathematics, Social Studies, General Science, Swedish, Religion, Arts, Physical Education and Health.

For admittance into a national program, students need to possess passing scores in Swedish, Mathematics and English. For admittance to an upper secondary school, pupils need to hold passing scores in at least 9 extra subjects, for arriving at a total of 12. For admittance to a vocational course of study, students need to receive passing scores in at least five extra subjects, in order to get to a total of 8.
Exams are in written form, oral form, project assessments or a combination of the three. 

Independent Schools

The independent schools are sanctioned by the Schools Inspectorate and adhere to the national curriculum. The Swedish Government promotes the establishment of such schools. The education in Independent schools is free.

Swedish Academic Year

The school year commences at the end of August and runs until the start of June the following year. 

Application Procedure

The application procedure for nursery school to upper secondary school differs from community to community. Contact the school to know about the admission procedure and other necessary details. 

Swedish Grading System

Primary School Grading System

The primary school (Grundskola) students in Sweden are graded from A to F, where A is the highest grading and F is the lowest.
  • Grade 'A' means Exemplary
  • Grade 'B' means Excellent
  • Grade 'C' denotes Good
  • Grade 'D' refers to Adequate
  • Grade 'E' means Acceptable
  • Grade 'F' indicates Fail

Secondary School Grading System

The Secondary schools in Sweden (gymnasium) follows a six-degree system from A to F, with A being the highest form of grading and F for having failed. The grades are given based on the individual accomplishments of each student rather than any relative performance. The grade should reflect the degree of achievement of stated learning outcomes and objectives.
  • Grade 'A' indicates Exemplary
  • Grade 'B' indicates Excellent
  • Grade 'C' indicates Good
  • Grade 'D' indicates Adequate
  • Grade 'E' indicates Acceptable
  • Grade 'F' indicates Fail
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