Last updated: 27/3-2024

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. Read here about education in Sweden.

A number of goals have been formulated for education. There are goals for compulsory school as a whole and there are goals for determining whether a pupil should receive a pass grade in a subject. There are descriptions of what you have to learn in different subjects and what you have to know when you finish school.

What you have to know in order to achieve a certain level and to move to the next level is described in the curriculum (läroplan) for compulsory school and upper secondary school.

During years 1-5 pupils receive an assessment in each subject. The assessments are for you to know how you are doing in the various subjects.

From Year 6, you will receive grades once per term. All subjects in compulsory school have knowledge requirements specified for them. These describe what a pupil has to know in order to get a specific grade. The grading scale has six points, from A to F. Grades A, B, C, D and E are all pass grades. F means that the pupil has failed to pass.

In upper secondary school pupils receive grades in each completed course and for their final project. All courses in upper secondary school have knowledge requirements. They specify what a pupil needs to know in order to receive a certain grade. When you complete your upper secondary education you receive a diploma if you meet the exam requirements; if you don't meet the exam requirements you receive a study certificate.

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.

Compulsory school attendance applies from the year in which a child turns 6 and until the child completes the final year of compulsory school or turns 18.

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.

At least once every term the teacher, the pupil (you) and your custodian or legal guardian have to have a school progress conference. This is a meeting in which you talk about how best to help you develop, in terms of knowledge development as well as social development.

As a pupil you are entitled to support initiatives in school if you risk not attaining the knowledge requirements in one or more subjects. This might be a matter of extra adaptations or of special support. Extra adaptations are usually more limited support initiatives within the regular teaching regime.

If a pupil receiving extra adaptations risks not attaining the knowledge requirements, the teacher has to notify the head teacher about this. The head teacher will then assess whether the pupil needs special support. If the assessment shows that the pupil needs special support, the school has to draw up a programmer of measures.

Upper secondary school attendance is voluntary. In upper secondary school you can study on various national programmes or an introductory programme. National programmes include vocational programmes and preparatory programmes for subsequent higher education.

In order to attend a vocational programme you need to have Pass grades in Swedish or Swedish as a Second Language, English, Mathematics, and in another five subjects. In other words you need Pass grades in a total of eight subjects.

In order for you to be able to attend a preparatory programme you have to have a Pass grade in Swedish or Swedish as a Second Language, English, Mathematics, as well as in another nine subjects. In other words, a Pass grade is required in twelve subjects in total.

If you are not qualified to attend any of the national programmes you can attend one of the introductory programmes. These are flexible in terms of the pace, scope and content of studies. Introductory programmes also have to be adaptable to your previous knowledge and needs.

If you have not been able to qualify for university college or university through upper secondary education, there are alternatives.

If you want to comment on or are dissatisfied with anything to do with your schooling you should first of all contact a teacher or the head teacher at your school.

If you feel that the teacher or head teacher is not listening to you, contact the school operator. The operator is the municipality if your school is municipal and the board if your school is independent. If you still find that your opinions are not taken seriously you can file a complaint with the Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen). The Schools Inspectorate is supervisory authority for schools.

Everyone is entitled to feeling safe at school. If you should be treated badly or bullied anyway, the school is obliged to help you. You can contact the Child and pupil ombudsman if other pupils or adults at school treat you badly.

The education system

The Swedish education system is made up of many different activities and types of education. Below is a brief overview.


Preschool provides pedagogic group activities for children from the age of 1 until they start school. Children begin attending preschool at different ages and attend for varying periods of time. One of the objectives of preschool activities is to enable parents to combine their parenthood with work or studies.

Preschool class

Preschool class is a part of compulsory education. Most children attend preschool class from the autumn term of the year that they turn 6. Preschool education is intended to stimulate children's development and prepare them for their further education.

Day recreation centres

Municipalities are obliged to offer day recreation centres until the spring term of the year in which the child turns 13. Municipalities may offer open recreational activities instead of day recreation centres from the autumn term of the year in which the child turns 10. Day recreation centres are intended to complement preschool class and preschool, in order to allow for parents to combine their parenthood with work or studies.

Educational care

Municipalities must strive to be able to offer educational care instead of preschool or day recreation centres, if requested.

Compulsory school education

Compulsory school attendance applies from the year in which a child turns 6 and until the child completes the final year of compulsory school or turns 18.

Special needs schools

Compulsory school attendance begins in the autumn term of the year in which the child turns six. Preschool class is compulsory. Special needs schools have classes from preschool class until year 10.

Special needs compulsory school

Special needs compulsory school gives every child who has an intellectual impairment an education adapted to their individual circumstances.

Upper secondary education

An upper secondary education provides foundational knowledge for further studies and a future professional life. There are 18 national upper secondary programmes: six preparatory programmes for higher education and 12 vocational programmes. Upper secondary school also offers six nationwide recruitment programmes and four introductory programmes.

Special needs upper secondary school

There are national and individual programmes to choose from. Before a pupil begins special needs upper secondary school, the municipality carries out a pedagogical, psychological, medical and social assessment to determine whether it is the right form of schooling for the pupil.