Primary and lower secondary school in Norway

children in classroom
Yadid Levy /
Here you can read about the lower and primary secondary school (grunnskolen) system in Norway.

Right to a place in a Norwegian primary or lower secondary school

Primary and lower secondary education in Norway is compulsory. If you are staying in Norway for more than three months, and have children of primary and lower secondary education age, contact the municipality in which you are to live to enrol the child in school. The parents must actively enrol the child in the school.

All state-run primary and lower secondary education in Norway is free of charge, and is financed by the municipalities. There are also a number of private primary and lower secondary schools. Contact the municipality in which you live, or are moving to, for more information about the schools there. The alternative to primary and lower secondary education is private home tuition (hjemmeundervisning).

Primary and lower secondary education is ten years, and pupils normally start school in the year of their sixth birthday. This period of education is divided into two main stages. The first seven years (Years 1-7) are called the primary level (barnetrinnet), and the three subsequent years (Years 8-10) are called the lower secondary level (ungdomstrinnet). The school must provide, for example, all necessary teaching materials and equipment. Pupils take their own lunch. 

​​​​​​​Special needs education

Pupils who do not or cannot satisfactorily benefit from the ordinary teaching are entitled to special needs education (spesialundervisning). It is the school/school owner that decides whether or not the pupil is entitled to special needs education. If the pupil or parents are not satisfied with the decision, they may submit an appeal to the County Governor (Statsforvalteren).

Special language teaching

All pupils whose mother tongue is not Norwegian or Sami are entitled to special tuition in the Norwegian language until their proficiency in Norwegian is sufficient for them to take part in the ordinary teaching. If necessary, they are also entitled to mother tongue instruction and/or subject teaching in two languages.

If there are at least three pupils with a Kven-Finnish background at primary and lower secondary schools in Troms and Finnmark, these pupils are entitled to tuition in Finnish. In the Sami district, all pupils of primary and lower secondary education age are entitled to be taught in Sami and in the Sami language.  Outside the Sami district, if at least ten pupils in a municipality request teaching in Sami and in the Sami language, they are entitled to this, as long as there are at least six pupils left in the group.

Homework help scheme and daycare facilities for schoolchildren

All pupils at primary and lower secondary level are entitled to free homework help. It is the municipality that must offer this. Participation in the homework help scheme is voluntary. Municipalities must also offer schoolchildren in Years 1-4 daycare facilities (skolefritidsordning, SFO) before and after the school day. The same applies to children with special needs in Years 1-7. The daycare scheme is also voluntary. To find out more about these schemes, contact the municipality or the individual school.

Route to school and school transport

Pupils are entitled to free school transport if the route to school is of a certain distance, if it is dangerous, or if the pupil has a disability or injury.

Holidays and school-free days

The school owner decides when there are holidays and school-free days. All Norwegian public holidays are school-free days. The municipality may also allow individual pupils leave from school for up to two weeks if this is justifiable.

Primary and lower secondary education on Svalbard

On Svalbard, it is the local authority, Longyearbyen Lokalstyre, that is responsible for teaching in Longyearbyen.

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