Compulsory school

Last updated: 12 11 2021

Image Boken om Sverige
This material is from the book About Sweden.

All children in Sweden must go to compulsory school for nine years. This is stipulated in the Swedish Education Act and is called compulsory school attendance. Every school year has an autumn semester and a spring semester. Children are subject to compulsory school attendance beginning in the autumn semester of the year they become seven years old or when they begin year 1 until the end of the spring semester of year 9.

There are plans for school work called syllabuses and curricula. These state what children are to learn in school and how the teach is to happen. The teaching and books are free for all children in compulsory school. They also get free lunch.

Parents have the right to choose which school their children attend. The child always has a right to a place in school in the area in which they live. If you choose another school, you apply for a place by contacting the principal of the school you are interested in. The child can start at that school if there is a place available.

For children who do not attend compulsory school for various reasons, there are special schools and compulsory schools for pupils with learning disabilities. Special schools are for children who have a hearing impairment, for example. Compulsory schools for pupils with learning disabilities are for children who have a learning disability. Pupils in these schools receive extra teacher support.

Subjects in compulsory school

A subject is something you are taught, for example maths or Swedish. Each subject has a syllabus which states what the pupils are to know when they complete compulsory school.

Sexuality and relationship education

Teaching about sexuality and relationships is part of the Swedish curriculum. It deals with love and how to live in a respectful, equal and loving relationship with another person. Sex education has been provided in Swedish schools for more than 50 years.


Pupils receive grades beginning in year 6. Children receive grades each semester. They are given their final grade at the end of year 9.

The grades are set on a scale A, B, C, D, E and F. The grade F means the pupil has not passed the subject. The highest grade is A.

The National Agency for Education has determined the rules for setting grades. The National Agency for Education is a public authority that has to ensure all children and pupils in Swedish schools receive a high-quality education in a safe environment.

Language teaching

Children are entitle to mother tongue teaching if one or both parents have a mother tongue other than Swedish. In order to be entitled to participate, the child also have to have basic knowledge of the language and use it at home every day.

Pupils who have another mother tongue are also entitled to teaching in Swedish as a second language. Swedish as a second language is for both beginners and pupils who already know Swedish. The Subject Swedish as a second language has the same level as the subject Swedish, but the teaching is adapted to pupils with a mother tongue other than Swedish.

Preparatory class

There is something called preparatory class for children who have recently arrived in Sweden. In a preparatory class, the pupils receive training in Swedish and teaching in various subjects. The pupils are taught in a way that makes it possible for them to go on to a class in normal compulsory school as quickly as possible. The teaching can vary depending on the age, mother tongue and previous knowledge of the individual pupil. There are preparatory classes in many municipalities in Sweden.