School in Sweden

There are various laws that specify what school must be like in order for all children and young people to be able to develop in the best possible way. For example, school must take pupils’ different needs into consideration. There are also curricula that specify what pupils need to have learned in different subjects and years.

Here you can read about the schools in Sweden. You can also see a film about the Swedish schools from the Swedish National Agency for Education.

In Sweden, school attendance is compulsory in the primary and lower-secondary school. Compulsory attendance at school is both a right and an obligation. It means you have the right to education in the primary and lower-secondary school but are also required to participate in the activities that the school organises. As an unaccompanied minor, you have the right to education regardless of whether you should stay or return to your home country. Asylum seekers have the right to education in the same way as other children in Sweden. However, the compulsory attendance at school does not apply to them.

For new arrivals, in the primary and lower secondary school, it is common to begin in a preparatory class, which is separate from the regular class. At the same time, one belongs to a regular class. You are counted as a newly arrived student if you have been living abroad and start your education in Sweden in the autumn of the year you turn seven years. After four years of schooling in Sweden, you are no longer considered a newly arrived student.

The school’s responsibility

The school is responsible for giving you, as a recently arrived pupil, the best possible means of integrating and creating a future for yourself in Sweden. The school must also offer you an education that suits you on the basis of your needs and circumstances.

If you encounter problems at school

If you feel that something has gone wrong at school, you can start by talking to the school head. Your guardian, custodian or specially appointed guardian will help and support you and can also be present when you talk to the school. You can also contact the school organiser. The school organiser is either the municipality or, in independent schools, the school committee. If you are not satisfied with the answer or the way the matter has been handled, you can turn to the Swedish Schools Inspectorate. The Schools Inspectorate is the authority concerned with the supervision of schools and preschools.

Primary and lower secondary school

The primary and lower secondary school is for nine years and the attendance is compulsory. It is common that children usually start schooling in the autumn of the year they turn seven. You are entitled to complete your primary and lower secondary education even if the compulsory school attendance has ended earlier. The compulsory school attendance does not apply to asylum seekers, however they have the right to education.

Examination

If you want a degree of primary and lower secondary education, you are entitled to take an examination for the degree. The examination can be for the entire primary and lower secondary schooling or for individual subjects.

Upper secondary school

All young people in Sweden who have completed primary and lower secondary schooling are entitled to upper secondary education. Upper secondary education is optional and the national upper secondary programs are three years long.

There are a variety of programmes. 

  • National programmes that prepare you for higher education or are vocational programmes.
  • Introductory programmes for those who do not have qualifications for a national programme.
  • Other programmes which do not count as national or introductory, e.g. nationally approved sport and fitness programmes. 

Upper secondary education should begin before the end of the first half of the calendar year you turn 20, which also applies to those who have received a permanent residence permit (PUT). If you are seeking asylum, you must begin your upper secondary education before you turn 18.

What are the requirements for applying to the various national programmes in upper secondary school? 

  1. In order to apply to a national programme you must have a pass grade in Swedish or Swedish as a second language, and in English and maths.
  2. You further need to have pass grades in five other subjects in order to apply to a vocational programme
  3. You further need to have pass grades in nine other subjects in order to apply to a programme that prepares you for higher education. These programmes specify what some of the nine subjects have to be. For example, you have to have pass grades in biology, chemistry and physics in order to apply to the natural sciences programme. 

Introductory programmes 

The introductory programmes are intended to provide pupils who don't have pass grades with the possibility of being accepted on a national programme or of leading work. 

For the newly arrived young people, this often means a language introduction. If you have just arrived in Sweden, the language introduction is meant for you. It focuses on the Swedish language so that you can quickly pursue another programme in the upper secondary school. At the language introduction, you can also receive teaching in other primary and lower secondary, and upper secondary subjects that you need for your further education.

Study grants from CSN

In upper secondary school your are entitled to a study grant from CSN. The study grant is currently SEK 1,050 per month and is paid over ten months, from September to June. The longest you can receive a study grant for is until the spring term of the year you turn 20. If you play truant (don't go to class) you will lose your right to a study grant, and you may also have to pay back money you have received. Otherwise the study grant is not money you have to pay back.

If your family's income is low you may also be entitled to an additional grant (extra tillägg).

Until you turn 18 years of age, the money will be paid to your guardian. Once you turn 18 the grant will be paid to you.

You have to fulfil certain conditions in order to be eligible for a study grant. Read more about these on CSN's website.

Goals for the different grades and subjects

Various goals have been formulated for the school. There are comprehensive goals for primary and lower secondary school and goals for deciding whether a student has passed in a subject. Syllabus for the different subjects as well as what you are required to know after completing schooling are provided.

What you need to know in order to reach a certain level and pursue further education is described in the so-called curricula for primary and lower secondary, and upper secondary schools.

Progress discussions 

At least once every semester, the teacher, the pupil (you) and your guardian ad litem or guardian have a progress discussion. During the progress discussion, you discuss how best to help you develop. You discuss both the development of knowledge and social development. 

Native language lessons 

Those who have a guardian whose native language is not Swedish must be given the opportunity of receiving native language lessons. You are entitled to this if the language is the one you speak at home and if you have some basic knowledge of the language. For the national minority languages, there are exceptions to these requirements.

You are entitled to native language lessons in both primary and lower secondary, and upper secondary schools.

If no native language teacher is available, or if there ar fewer than five pupils who want classes, the municipality is not obliged to provide native language lessons. 

Study guidance

If you are unable to follow the teaching provided in Swedish, you have the right to receive support in the form of study guidance in your native language, if required.

Study guidance in the native language is a support that is available in the primary and lower secondary school and equivalent school forms as well as in the upper secondary school and upper secondary special schools.

There are other alternatives 

If you have been unable to obtain qualifications for higher education through upper secondary school, there are other ways to obtain them. 

Your responsibility

If you do not have the requisite knowledge demanded when primary and lower secondary schooling ends, you are entitled to complete the education for another two years. This does not imply an extension of the compulsory attendance in school. You can also choose to take the upper secondary school introduction programme. You are required to choose whether you would like to remain in the primary and lower secondary school or start an introduction programme in the upper secondary school. Compulsory attendance in school does not apply to the upper secondary school but those taking the upper secondary programme are expected to participate in the program.

If you do not have the requisite knowledge demanded when compulsory schooling ends, you are entitled to complete the education for another two years. This does not imply an extension of the compulsory school attendance. You can also choose to take the upper secondary school's introduction program. You are required to choose whether you would like to remain in the compulsory school or start an introduction program in the upper secondary school. The compulsory school attendance does not apply to the upper secondary school but those taking the upper secondary program are expected to participate in the program.

Curriculi

In the primary and lower secondary school curriculum, you can read more about what you will learn in the different subjects as well as what is required for the different grades.

Primary and lower secondary school curriculum

The Upper Secondary School Curriculum contains detailed information about what you have to know in different subjects and on different programmes, and what is required for different grades.

Upper Secondary School Curriculum​​

Folkhögskolespåret

Folkhögskolespåret is an opportunity for unaccompanied young people between the age of 17 and 21, to receive education at the Folk high school. Here, you can take high school courses. You can start here even if you have missed certain subjects in compulsory education.

You study in small groups and get a lot of help. You can study Swedish quickly!

Usually, one lives in the folk high school and gets an individual room. You get breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner.

The studies are free of cost and provide CSN. The Folk High School provides eligibility to college, university and professional school.

Talk to your contact person at HVB, your teacher at the high school or your social secretary at Folkhögskolespåret.

www.folkhogskolesparet.se

​Alternatives to studying at a university college

On studera.nu or in the brochure of the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket), you can read about other ways to achieve your goals if you don't have compulsory or upper secondary school eligibility.

Other studies on studera.nu

Skolverket's brochure on adult education for the newly arrived

​How will I be able to choose?

Utbildningsinfo (Education info) has some good aids for deciding your education path.

You can find out which programme leads to your career choice by using the Qualification indicator.

The Qualification indicator

Using Choose & plan will give you a clearer picture of where you are now and what you need to do to achieve your goals.

Choose and plan

This site contains information about the Swedish society and is run by the County Administrative Boards of Sweden
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