NON-STATE ACTORS IN EDUCATION
2.2 Non-state education provision
3.1 Regulations by distinct levels of education
- Early childhood care and education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Primary and secondary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Tertiary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
3.2 Supplementary private tutoring
The Private Schools Act No.1656/2021 and Private Schools of Upper Secondary Education Act No.3/2020 both refer to “private” or “free” schools, without defining non-state actors specifically. The Day Care Act No. 1912/2021, which provides a guarantee for equal access to an early childhood education and care facility for all children below school age, refers to “a municipal day care institution, a self-governing day care institution, an outsourced day care institution or a private institution. In addition, day care can be established in private homes as municipal day care or private day care”. Self-governing and outsourced institutions “are not directly part of the municipal administration but are independent legal entities that are operated on a private law basis in the form of an agreement on operation with the municipal council”. The Universities Act No.172/2018 does not include provisions for non-state institutions, defining “universities” as “state-funded self-governing institutions within the public administration under the supervision of the Minister of Higher Education and Science”. The Folkeskole Act No.1887/2021 does not define or refer to non-state actors.
2. Typology of provision
2.1 State education provision
In Denmark most education at primary and lower secondary level (10 years, ages 6 – 15) is provided by the ‘Folkeskole’, which is the Danish state school or municipal school (translated as the ‘people’s school’). In 2018, the Folkeskole accounted for 59% of schools and 77% of enrolments. At upper secondary level, the state similarly accounts for most education, covering 80% of schools and 94% of enrolments.
According to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Denmark , all children of mandatory school age have the right to free education in primary and lower secondary school (folkeskolen). The Folkeskole Act No.1887/2021 states that education is compulsory for 10 years at primary and lower secondary level (starting at age 6, and including 1 year of preschool education).
Besides regular municipal schools, the municipalities can run municipal international schools at primary and lower secondary level as a municipal alternative to the Folkeskole framework with English, German or French as the language of instruction. These schools were first introduced in 2015 through a legislation that allows municipalities to set up international schools at primary and secondary level as “freestanding schools outside the framework of the Danish Folkeskole” and municipal upper secondary school. They mainly cater to children whose parents are foreigners residing temporarily in Denmark due to employment and (in certain cases where places are unfulfilled) to Danish students or other foreign students residing in Denmark. All municipal international schools at upper secondary level offer teaching that leads to an international diploma (International Baccalaureate for all schools except one school offering European Baccalaureate) and are certified internationally. In all other areas these schools operate as regular municipal schools, are subject to the same standards, and do not charge any tuition fees (receiving full funding from the state).
Non-state managed, state schools
No information was found.
Non-state funded, state schools
No information was found.
2.2 Non-state education provision
Denmark has a tradition of non-state schools operating with substantial government subsidy, which have been supported since the end of 19th century as a means of guaranteeing diversity in educational offers and avoiding state and church predominance in educational provision. These schools, officially referred to as ‘free primary schools’ (free schools/private schools), have traditionally enjoyed a high degree of associational autonomy in terms of ideology, pedagogy, and recruitment of pupils and staff. Danish parents are free to choose whether they send their child to a state school or to one of the many types of independent free schools (friskoler) or private schools subsidized by the state and to some extend schools fees paid by the parents. Most government-aided institutions offer early childhood education, as well as primary and lower secondary education. In 2016, 23% of all primary and lower secondary schools were owned by non-state actors, which catered to 16% of students at that education level. Only a small amount of non-state institutions offer general upper secondary education, catering to just 6% of upper secondary students. A significant number of non-state institutions offer non-formal adult education in Denmark (with only a small percentage being part of the formal, state school system). Higher education has no non-state institutions.
There are many different types of free schools/private schools most of which based on a specific philosophy, pedagogical approach, or religious belief. According to the Ministry of Children and Education non-state schools in Denmark may be roughly divided into the following categories: (1) small independent schools in rural districts (friskoler), (2) large independent schools in urban districts (privatskoler), (3) religious or congregational schools, (4) progressive free schools, (5) schools with a particular educational aim, such as the Rudolf Steiner schools, and (6) international schools with another language of instruction other than Danish. All free schools/private schools are recognized and receive government financing regardless of the ideological, religious, political or ethnic motivation behind their establishment. Some schools are very old while others are quite new, with new ones continuing to be established. Free schools/private schools are generally smaller than the municipal schools.
Independent, non-state schools
Whereas free schools (friskoler)/private schools are officially considered “independent” or “free” schools, their freedom is not associated with funding, as they are all significantly funded by the state. No information was found on the existence of independent, non-state schools that receive no funding from the state.
State-funded (government-aided), non-state schools
In Denmark, private schools or ‘free schools’ (friskoler) are owned and operated by non-state actors, but significantly funded by the state (covering over 80% of their operating expenses). The freedoms relating to free schools/private schools can mainly be assembled into five interdependent principles of freedom. These are (1) ideological freedom, (2) pedagogical freedom, (3) financial freedom, (4) freedom of employment, and (5) freedom to admit pupils. It should be noted that financial freedom refers to parents having to contribute financially for their child to attend a free school/private school , the amount varying from school to school. These schools are however not financially independent from the state. About 18% of all children from pre-school to 10th grade attend free schools /private schools. The number of pupils has increased over the last 15 years. Often when state schools consolidate into large schools parents create a free school/private school in its place. Irrespective of the school’s ideological, religious, or political belief all private or free schools receive significant financing from the state on a per pupil basis through operational grants, special grants, block grants, and building grants. These schools also charge limited school fees for attendance (which are regulated and partially subsidized by the state) and operate on a non-profit-making basis.
The “efterskole” is a form of boarding school unique to Denmark where students aged between 14 and 18 can spend one or two years of their lower secondary school education before continuing on to upper secondary education. An efterskole is a private school that similarly receives substantial state subsidy, with about 66% of the school budget being covered from central government and 33% being paid by the parents. Approximately 20% of all Danish teenagers attend an efterskole, with the number of students increasing every year for the past 25 years. In 2020, there were about 240 of such schools attracting around 28,000 students from all levels of society. The size of an efterskole can vary from 35 to 500 students but is on average 100-120 students. Most schools are located in rural areas or near provincial towns with only a few being located in a city. An efterskole will typically choose to offer the same compulsory subjects and final examinations as state schools. Many schools may also choose to focus on special subjects such as sport, music or outdoor life, while others offer special education of various kinds. Denmark also has private residential schools known as continuation schools (Efterskoler) for students in grades 8 – 10 which typically emphasize social learning and fields such as sports, music, nature or ecology.
Other vocational schools (Frie fagskoler) aim at preparing pupils for completion of an upper secondary education and, thus, reduce the rate of early leavers. Focus is on practical and vocational training which accounts for approximately one-third of the teaching. However, the pupils do not obtain qualifications for a specific profession. Among the subjects taught are handcraft, cooking, design, pedagogy, and basic economics. The pupils can choose between two school profiles: (1) a vocational profile that aims at making pupils capable of completing a vocational upper secondary education or (2) the ordinary 10th grade level with teaching in English, Danish and Mathematics that aims at making the pupils capable of completing either a vocational upper secondary education or a general upper secondary education.
There are also vocational boarding schools. To be admitted to these schools, pupils must have completed ten years of compulsory schooling or be over the age of 16. The duration of the courses usually is 12-20 or 40 weeks. Pupils pay a fee for tuition and boarding.
International schools that teach in English, French, and German and lead to an international diploma (such as International or European Baccalaureate) are also available, which (like all free schools/private schools) are required to live up to the same standards as municipal schools and receive government grants. There are 26 international schools at primary and lower secondary level, and 6 private international schools at upper secondary level (compared to 13 municipal international schools). These schools are required to gain approval from the Ministry of Children and Education to be recognized, and primarily cater to pupils with foreign parents who reside in Denmark for limited periods of time.
In addition to private schools in the formal education system, Denmark has a history of private non-formal adult education institutions which are mostly established and operated on private initiatives by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The concept of non-formal adult education (folkeoplysning in Danish) is associated with the Danish philosopher, educational thinker, poet, and clergyman N.F.S. Grundtvig and his philosophy of free educational opportunities. These activities are based on the concept of fellowship and community and the philosophy of different providers. Non-formal education institutions comprise of private independent boarding schools (including folk high schools, home economics schools, arts and crafts schools, and continuation schools) and independent non-formal education activity in evening schools and voluntary associations.
While there are a wide range of initiatives offering lifelong learning in Denmark, the most well-known of these institutions are the folk high schools, which are residential schools providing general and non-formal education. These schools (which were originally established to serve the rural population in the 19th century) offer flexible, non-formal courses ranging from one week to almost a year aiming to broaden social and democratic competencies. Each school has a high degree of freedom to choose their subjects and teaching methods, which means that there are great differences between each institution. Some folk high schools focus on music and theatre, while others emphasize philosophy, politics, art, or sports. According to the Association of Folk High Schools in Denmark, the schools include Christian or spiritual schools, general and Grundtvigian schools, gymnastics and sports schools, lifestyle schools, specialized schools, schools for senior citizens, and youth folk high schools. They are self-governing institutions that receive significant funding and support from the state and charge tuition fees for attendance (regulated by the state).
Contracted, non-state schools
No information was found.
2.3 Other types of schools
In Denmark, education itself is compulsory, while school attendance is not. The Private Schools Act No.816/2019 gives parents the right to assume the responsibility for the education of their own children based on a general duty to educate them rather than a duty to send them to school. While all children must receive 10 years of compulsory education, provided a minimum standard is maintained, it remains a matter of choice for parents whether this education is received in the the Folkeskole, private school, or at home, as stipulated in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Denmark . If parents wish to undertake home education, they must submit a written declaration to their municipality, which is responsible for supervising all home-educated children within its jurisdiction and testing them annually. In contrast to students in the Folkeskole though, home-educated students are not obliged to sit for the Folkeskolen’s school leaving examinations (at the end of Grade 9), with these students only participating on a voluntary basis.
In March 2020, in an effort to reduce and minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19, Denmark announced the closure of all educational institutions (state and private), including early childhood education and care facilities, with new laws and regulations continuously adopted as a result. To support distance learning during this time, the country’s digital learning portal published free digital resources and advisory material for teachers, students, and parents. Denmark also provided targeted support and interventions for vulnerable children and families, with municipalities continuing to provide education and care services to children with special educational needs, children with challenging home environments, and children of essential workers. Moreover, all schools were expected to engage in daily contact with vulnerable students that needed special support.
Market contracted (Voucher schools)
Denmark is often reported to have a ‘national voucher system’ by historically funding all schools (irrespective of ownership) and upholding parents’ freedom to select their children’ schools (whether for religious, political, or ethical reasons). The Danish taximeter system of school funding which covers 80 – 85% of private school expenditures has often been considered a form of ‘voucher’. However, these funds are directed to the schools and not parents and are therefore not technically ‘vouchers’ according to commonly-adopted definitions of vouchers being “government-funded tuition coupons redeemable at eligible private and public schools of parents’ choice”. According to the OECD’s definition of school vouchers, Denmark is classified as a “non-voucher system”.
No information was found.
3. Governance and regulations
In Denmark, the education system (including both state and non-state provision) is under the central supervision of three different Ministries. The Ministry of Children and Social Affairs is responsible for early childhood education, the Ministry of Children and Education is responsible for primary, lower secondary, and upper secondary education, and the Ministry of Higher Education and Science is responsible for higher education.
The administration of the education system is then divided into the regional level (5 regions) and the local level (98 municipalities). Municipalities are directly responsible for the administration and supervision of schools within their jurisdiction (state and private). There are also independent associations involved in the different school types in Denmark, including the Association of Folk High Schools in Denmark and the Association of Danish Free Schools.
Vision: Denmark has a long tradition of supporting parents’ choice of education institution, with the government historically ensuring a high level of financial support for private schools, which are viewed as an alternative to the Folkeskole. Free schools/ private schools traditionally have a large degree of associational freedom. However, from the beginning of the 2000s, a number of regulations have been introduced concerning minimum curricula requirements, monitoring, and academic value of these schools’ teaching programs, which specify in detail what it means for non-state institutions to provide an education that is ‘equivalent to public schools’. According to the Private Schools Act No.1656/2021 all that is demanded in non-state education is that is comparable to what is offered in the Folkeskole, spends its funds to only benefit the school community, and operates as an independent institution. In the Danish government’s paper of political understanding published in 2019, the government puts a great deal of focus on school education, with “free and equal access to education” considered a “cornerstone of the Danish welfare society”. As part of the government’s goal for pupil enrollment to better reflect the composition of the Danish population, the government plans to introduce a “social taximeter” on the state subsidy for private/free schools that will ensure that more schools in Denmark “assume greater social responsibility”.
3.1 Regulations by distinct levels of education
In Denmark, early childhood education and care (ECEC), referred to as day care, covers ages 0 – 6 (with age 6 forming part of the compulsory education structure) and is provided in nurseries (ages 0 – 3), kindergartens (ages 3 – 5), age-integrated institutions, and home-based provision (ages 0 – 6). Most (72%) day care institutions are owned and operated by municipalities, with the rest owned and run by private associations, parents or businesses. These non-state day care services can either be established through an agreement with the municipality as an outsourced or self-governing institution (13%), or gain approval from the municipality to run as an independent private service (15%), whether at home (as a private day care scheme) or at a private institution. Denmark has one of the highest participation rates in ECEC in the European Union. In 2020, 66% of children aged 0- 2 and 96% of children aged 3 – 6 attended a day care service.
Registration and approval:
Besides municipal provision, day care institutions in Denmark can be established as self-governing institutions, outsourced institutions, private institutions, or private day care schemes as stipulated in the Day Care Act No 1912/2021. Self-governing (or independent) and outsourced day care institutions can be established by independent legal entities that are operated under private law based on an operating agreement with the municipal council. When established on the basis of an agreement with the municipal council, services are considered part of the municipal supply and are subject to the same terms and conditions that apply to municipal services. There are no specific requirements as to which exact legal persons or entities can establish these institutions. Providers can be private companies, organizations, foundations, or a group of parents. The institution is required to have a statute and meet the associated conditions. Private institutions on the other hand are required to gain official approval from the municipal council, which they are only entitled to if the municipality is satisfied that they similarly meet the centrally set requirements. The requirements must be specific and neither more restrictive nor more lenient than requirements for municipal services. The municipal council may require an operating guarantee.
The municipal council must also approve private homes and any other premises that are proposed to be used for the day care. Private childcare schemes (which operate as part of an agreement between the private childminder and the parents) catering to more than 2 children also require approval from the municipality, which carries out ongoing supervision of the scheme. If care takes place in a private home, providers can only receive up to 5 children (or up to 10 if there are more employees).
License: Self-governing and outsourced day care institutions operate on the basis of an official agreement or tender with the municipal council, whereas private institutions or day care schemes must gain the official approval of the municipal council to operate.
Profit-making: According to the Day Care Guide No.9109/2015, the government only regulates the profit-making status of self-governing (or independent) day care institutions, which are “characterized by being non-profit institutions and can therefore only use profits from the institution for the institution's operation or another purpose stipulated in the institution's articles of association”. Outsourced and private institutions on the other hand may be established as profit-making entities, with the municipal council having no responsibility for their finances or profitability as part of its supervisory obligations (with institutions themselves responsible for their finances and accountable to their owners). This means that owners of private or outsourced day care institutions “can use any profit from the private institution for purposes other than actual institutional operation, as long as it is not in conflict with the legislation in general”.
Taxes and subsidies:
The government of Denmark aims to give families with children increased flexibility, transparency, and free choice regarding different types of day care services in each municipality, with all services (irrespective of provider) entitled to support and subsidies from the state. Self-governing and outsourced institutions are provided with per-child grants that amount to at least 75% of their operating expenses, while private institutions are similarly entitled to operating subsidies, building subsidies, and administration subsidies calculated on a per-child basis. The municipality may also provide parents with a subsidy to hire a private childminder for their care of their children if the childcare agreement has been approved by the municipality.
Moreover, the municipal council may give parents with children aged 24 weeks and older (up until the time the child starts school) a financial subsidy for the care of their own children as an alternative to municipal or private day care services. Subsidies for private care cannot exceed 85% of the cheapest net operating expense in an equivalent day care offer by the municipality or exceed the maximum amount of unemployment benefits. They are granted to applicants who do not at the time have another income from the state or work, have sufficient Danish skills (to develop the child’s Danish language skills), and have lived in Denmark for 7 out of the previous 8 years.
Quality of teaching and learning
Curriculum and education standards: All day care settings , municipal institutions, private institutions, self-governing, outsources institutions and municipal and private day care must develop their own pedagogical curriculum which describes how the pedagogical learning environment is established and documents the children’s learning and development at ages 0 – 6. While each day care setting decides how to implement the curriculum (choosing its own pedagogical method), the curriculum must meet the goals for children’s learning within the six themes set in the Executive Order on Pedagogical Goals and Content in Six Curriculum Themes No.968/2018 and evaluated every second year. Private day care schemes are required to follow the same pedagogical guidelines as day care institutions and ensure a safe learning environment but are not covered in the same provisions regarding preparation of pedagogical curriculum that applies to day care institutions. According to the Day Care Act No 1912/2021, the main language of instruction must be Danish, with municipalities also authorized to permit the use of English, German and French as the main language in specific settings provided it does not cause integration issues. All day care settings are required to establish a learning environment that ensures the child’s smooth transition from day care to primary education.
Teaching profession: Municipalities must ensure that the staff in all day care services (irrespective of provider) have the necessary qualifications to carry out their tasks, without however defining specific qualification requirements. The staff must be able to fulfill the minimum objectives and tasks, in addition to the requirements set for pedagogical work in the Day Care Act No 1912/2021. Prior to employment, all staff (including leaders, educators, educator assistants, day care workers, day care educators, private babysitters, caretakers, and administrative staff) are required to submit a child certificate, as stipulated in the Child Certificate Act No.362/2014. A child certificate is issued by the police and ensures that no staff have been punished for any criminal offence involving children.
Fee-setting: The fees charged in self-governing and outsourced day care institutions are prohibited from exceeding 25% of the gross operational expenses of the institution, as these institutions receive grants to cover 75% of their operating costs and form part of the municipal supply, as stipulated in the Day Care Act No 1912/2021 and the Executive Order on the Collection and Regulation of Parental Payment for a Place in Day Care, Leisure, and Club Services for Children and Young People.
Private institutions on the other hand are not subject to the payment rules for services under the authority of the municipality and are free to determine the level of fees themselves (with no maximum fee level). These institutions determine and publish their own fees, with the municipality providing financial free place subsidies, sibling subsidies, treatment free place subsidies, and social pedagogical free place subsidies for families who are entitled to these.
Admission selection and processes: The municipal council allocates admission places in outsourced and self-governing day care institutions and private day care, which form part of the municipal supply. These institutions may in certain cases partially or wholly make their own decisions in admissions, depending on the municipality’s decision. Private institutions make their own decisions on admissions, with the municipal council not involved in allocating places in these institutions. However, it is assumed that there is a collaboration between the private institution and the municipality regarding the admission of children in need of support. Private institutions are additionally required to establish and publish their admissions guidelines, which must be based on principles of equality and prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, and religion. Private institutions can also be set up in a way that allows special priority to be given to certain groups of children (which must be stated in the institution’s articles of association). All day care institutions (municipal, self-governing, outsourced, and private) must ensure that a maximum of 30% of children from vulnerable housing areas are admitted to the institution each year.
Policies for vulnerable groups: All day care services in Denmark are required to ensure that children in need of additional support (such as children with reduced physical or mental functioning) receive the necessary support, care and learning in the day care services, as stipulated in Day Care Act No 1912/2021. All services must additionally comply with the municipality’s child policy that describes each day care institution’s role in preventing efforts against negative social heritage and exclusion. As a general approach to day care in Denmark, each municipality is required to give parents with children of the age of 24 weeks up to the age of starting school to opportunity to choose financial support for private institution and private day care provision instead of municipal provision. Moreover, further financial support is provided to parents with more than one child enrolled in either municipal or private institutions.
Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability
Reporting requirements: All day care services (irrespective of the provider) are accountable to the municipal council for ensuring that the services live up to the goals and framework set by the municipality and that the financial subsidies received are used in accordance to law. Self-governing and outsourced day care providers are additionally accountable to the municipality by being considered part of the municipal supply, while private providers are obliged to inform the municipal council on any relevant supervisory matters. The pedagogical curriculum must additionally be evaluated every second year by the head of each day care institution. Finally, self-governing and outsourced day care institutions (which have their admissions regulated by the municipality) are required to inform the municipal council of the proportion of children admitted from vulnerable households each year.
Inspection: Municipal councils are responsible for supervising all day care services (including private day care schemes) which receive subsidies from the municipality. Supervision is mainly directed towards the pedagogical content, tasks, hygiene, health, fire conditions, and playground safety of the services (with several administrators in the municipality involved in the supervision). The municipal council also determines the frequency of inspections and reports (carrying out both notified and unannounced visits). Finally, external quality assurance is additionally performed by the Danish Evaluation Institute, an independent state institution formed under the auspices of the Ministry of Children and Education. The Danish Evaluation Institute carries out evaluations on how local authorities carry out supervisory and assessment tasks and works to enhance local knowledge and competencies in quality assurance methods.
Child assessment: According to the Day Care Act No 1912/2021, a language assessment must be conducted for children between the ages of 2 and 3 if any linguistic, behavioral or other conditions cause the day care staff to believe that the child could benefit from language stimulation. Language assessment tests skills in communicative competency, productive spoken language, receptive spoken language, and phonetic awareness. For children who do not attend day care settings, this language assessment is compulsory.
Sanctions: According to the Day Care Act No 1912/2021, the municipal council may revoke the approval of a private institution or private care agreement if, through ongoing supervision, the services are found to no longer meet the criteria of approval. In the case of self-governing and outsourced institutions, the municipal council may terminate the agreement with the municipality if the institutions no longer comply with minimum requirements.
Registration and approval: According to the Private Schools Act No.1656/2021, for a free school/private school at primary and lower secondary level to be established, the municipal council and Ministry of Children and Education must be notified. Upon receiving the application, the Ministry must ensure that the school meets the minimum requirements for receiving state subsidies (if the school applies for financial assistance), the purpose and functioning of the school is in accordance with the law, and the group of persons behind the establishment of the school meet all the necessary standards. For a school to be eligible for government grants, it is prohibited from being established by a private individual. At upper secondary level, an approval must similarly be provided by the Ministry of Children and Education for a school to offer upper secondary courses and education for the national student examination in accordance with the Private Schools of Upper Secondary Education Act No.3/2020. All schools are required to meet the minimum land and building infrastructure requirements (that also apply to state school buildings). If a free school/private school serves a high proportion of pupils with special educational needs, the school can apply to have a special education profile by being certified by the National Agency of Education and Quality (under the Ministry of Children and Education), in accordance with the Executive Order on Certification of Free Primary Schools with a Special Education Profile No.1094/2016. The Ministry of Children and Education may also approve for a free school/private school to offer after-school activities or operate as a combined institution (such as a folk high school, vocational school, or upper secondary education school) if the provider fulfils the conditions for carrying out these activities and justifies the combination. Classroom size is regulated through the Folkeskole Act 1396/2020 for state schools, which does not apply to private schools.
In the case of the establishment of private non-formal education activities (such as folk high schools or continuation schools), an application must be made to the municipal council by a non-formal adult education association with a statute in order to be considered for a state grant and allocated facilities.
Licence: The Ministry of Children and Education provides official approval for the establishment of private schools at primary, lower secondary, and upper secondary level.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH): No information was found.
Profit-making: Profit-making is prohibited for free schools/ private schools that receive government grants, with all school funds only allowed to be used towards the school and its education activities. The Private Schools Act No. 1656/2021 and Private Schools of Upper Secondary Education Act No.3/2020 both include provisions on how the funds of the school must be managed in order to be of the “greatest possible benefit to the school”.
Taxes and subsidies: All free schools and private schools in Denmark receive government grants for approximately 80 % of their operational expenses, which are distributed based on a per-student/pupil basis and updated each year in the Finance Act (based on a taximeter system). All grants received match the corresponding state school grants (minus the fees paid by parents in private schools), to ensure that public expenditure for both types of schools follows the same trends. Grants include operational grants, special grants (covering expenditures connected with the teaching of students with learning disabilities or other special needs), block grants, and building grants (covering rent, maintenance, construction, and school-based leisure activities). The size of the grants varies from one school to another, with higher grants for students with special educational needs (covering teacher salary expenses, special courses, and additional needs), and factors such as the size of the school considered. All grants (apart from special grants and grants for free places) are allocated to the school as one total block grant used for school and teaching activity purposes, with the school free to spend the money according to their own priorities. In 2021, free schools/private schools received 76% of the funding given to state schools, which is about €5.700 per pupil per year.
The actual grant per pupil varies from one school to another depending on three factors: (1) the size of the school (number of pupils), (2) the age of the pupils (pupils over the age of 13 release a higher subsidy), and (3) the municipality or school district. To be eligible for government grants, the free school/private school must be self-governing institutions with an established board of governors responsible to the Ministry of Children and Education, offer teaching that measures up to corresponding state schools, be of a certain minimum size and cater to a minimum number of students. Moreover, the school must not be owned by a private individual or run for private profit. The funds received may only be used to benefit the school and its activities, while all free schools/private schools are required to ensure an additional degree of self-financing. However, schools are not allowed to receive over DKK 20,000 in donations (USD 3,218) from state authorities or natural and legal persons from countries outside the European Union and European Economic Area.
Private non-formal education activities also receive government grants if they are organized as self-governing institutions (with their own board and statute), with the size of grants determined by each municipality. The government additionally provides taximeter, per-student funding to private independent boarding schools.
Quality of teaching and learning
Curriculum and education standards: Free schools/private schools at primary and lower secondary level can provide teaching in accordance with their own philosophy, within the framework of the Private Schools Act No. 1656/2021. This means that the courses may not necessarily be the same as courses in state schools. However, there must be an alignment between state and private schools in terms of curricula and examination (with private education required to measure up to education in state schools). There are certain curriculum requirements which all free schools/private schools must follow, with a minimum of three courses in each subject area (humanities and natural sciences) and certain compulsory courses. Irrespective of the provider, the teaching must lead to the common curriculum goals, support the pupils overall development, and prepare pupils to live in a society like Denmark with freedom and democracy. The language of instruction must be Danish, with the exception of German minority schools which teach in German. In special cases, the Ministry of Children and Education may approve a different language of instruction (such as for international schools). Private schools at upper secondary level differ from private “basic” schools in that their curriculum is governed by the same rules that apply to state schools, under the Act on General Upper Secondary Education No.1716/2016. This is because both types of schools lead to the same final examination, the upper secondary school leaving examination (”Studentereksamen”). However, the Ministry of Children and Education may deviate from the curricula provisions in special cases and for limited periods of time in order to promote experimental teaching activities and alternative pedagogical work. An efterskole will typically choose to offer the same compulsory subjects and final examinations as state schools. In addition to this, many schools focus on special subjects such as sport, music or outdoor life, while others offer special education of various kinds.
Non-formal education comprises of flexibly organized teaching activities, with schools organizing their activity on the basis of their chosen core values. Folk high schools have a high degree of autonomy in choosing their subjects and teaching methods, with great differences between each school. Home economics and arts and crafts schools on the other hand mainly concentrate on practical and creative teaching, focusing on cultural, social, and historical perspectives.
Textbooks and learning materials: Free school/private school supervisors (which are elected by parents) are responsible for assessing the professional and pedagogical quality of the teaching material being used in free schools/private schools, in accordance with the Private Schools Act No. 1656/2021.
Teaching profession: The salary and employment conditions for teachers in private schools is governed by provisions laid down by the Minister of Taxation (general labour laws, with the same rules applicable to state schools).
At primary and lower secondary level in free schools/private schools, teachers must master Danish in writing and speaking (apart from German minority schools and other schools with a different language of instruction). However, while teachers in municipal schools are required to have their qualifications approved by the Danish Agency of Higher Education and Science, teachers in private primary and lower secondary schools are not required to have this authorization by law. The Folkeskole Act No.1396/2020 regulates qualifications for teachers in municipal schools but not private schools, while the Private Schools Act No. 1656/2021 does not include specific qualifications for this level. At upper secondary level, minimum teacher qualifications are governed by the Act on General Upper Secondary Education No.1716/2016 (applicable to both state and private school teachers), while all teachers must have both teaching and pedagogical competence. In an efterskole most teachers have a teaching diploma, but this is no required and the principal can hire teachers freely.
Corporal punishment: Corporal punishment has been prohibited in all schools in Denmark (state and private) since 1967 under the Danish Order No.276 Concerning the Promotion of Order in the Schools.
Other safety measures and COVID-19: The Ministry of Children and Education has developed a school well-being tool which is used to conduct well-being surveys in municipal and private schools. Moreover, for the safe re-opening of schools during the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the Ministry and the Ministry of Health and the Danish Health Authority among others issued health and safety directions and recommendations that all schools (irrespective of ownership) were required to follow.
Fee-setting: The state provides free schools/private schools with grants for the reduction of tuition fees (partially covering pupil tuition expenses), as well as the reduction of parental payments for after-school schemes, transportation costs, and boarding, as stated in the Private Schools Act No. 1656/2021. Operational grants include tuition grants which are distributed on a per-pupil basis each year. The Ministry of Children and Education may fully cover the tuition fee costs for certain students, while regulating the rules of fee-setting in all schools (including a maximum fee amount). Other expenses are also covered through parental payment, with the school allowed to charge additional fees for excursions and camps (for example), the amount of which is determined by the school board. In the efterskole the amount parents pay is regulated to reflect their parents’ income, so that families with a high income pay more than families with a low income. There are also variations between schools in the resources they use per pupil and therefore in the fees charged. For students living outside Denmark that are not Danish citizens the fees are about €10.000, because they do not receive support from the Danish government.
Admission selection and processes: Private schools are free to determine their own admissions process and which students they want in their school, with admissions based on an agreement between the parents and the school. The school also has the right to expel any student.
Policies for vulnerable groups: Free schools/private schools catering to pupils with special educational needs are entitled to increased government grants and support, as well as free pedagogical-psychological guidance from the municipality. All free schools/private schools are obliged to provide pupils with the education and support they need (irrespective of whether the school receives financial support from the state), while municipalities are required by law to provide free schools/private schools with the equivalent support and compensatory tools they would provide to state schools. According to the Private Schools Act No. 1656/2021, all schools are required to offer supplementary teaching and any other professional support, personal assistance to pupils with practical difficulties, and education to pupils who could not attend the school for a majority of time due to health reasons. Special grants include grants for personal assistance, additional transport expenses, required aids, and supplementary teaching. A special grant is also provided to German minority schools for bilingual teaching. Support in free schools/private schools at upper secondary level is additionally regulated in the Act on General Upper Secondary Education No.1716/2016.
Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability
School board: Free schools/private schools at primary and lower secondary education are self-governing institutions, with their management handled by a board which is responsible to the Ministry of Children and Education. The Private Schools Act No. 1656/2021 does not define the composition of the board, which is defined in each school’s articles of association (and approved by the Minister of Children and Education upon registration). While the government does not require specific membership of the board, the Act prohibits certain persons from becoming members (such as members that rent the property to the school, as well as lawyers, auditors and similar advisors to the school). While there is no requirement for the establishment of a student council, the students have a right to form a student council (which the school is required to support). The board of governors is responsible to the Ministry of Education for the running of the school as a whole. It is a characteristic of free schools/private schools that parents are actively involved in the working with school staff and the principal. Similar rules apply to private schools at upper secondary level, with the composition of the school board regulated in the school’s statute. The government similarly regulates which persons cannot be members of the school board (which are the same as private schools at primary and lower secondary level), as stated in the Private Schools of Upper Secondary Education Act No.3/2020.
In the case of non-formal education institutions, the municipal council may appoint a non-formal adult education committee to carry out administrative tasks. This committee consists of members elected by the municipality (at a minority) and persons which broadly represent the school (at a majority).
Reporting requirements: All private schools in Denmark are required to carry out a self-evaluation of their teaching and prepare a plan for follow-up evaluations, the models of which are approved by the Minister of Children and Education in accordance with the Private Schools Act No.816/2019. Self-evaluations must be carried out at least every 3 years, with the results and school plan published on the school’s official website. The governors of a friskole must send annual accounts to the ministry. Private schools are accountable to the Ministry of Children and Education through the regular auditing of their accounts, which must be audited by a state-authorized public accountant or a registered public accountant. Moreover, by receiving government grants, private schools are required to follow certain minimum standards in relation to their management and finances. In the case of schools with a special education profile, the content and plan must be regularly evaluated by each individual school so that the students can reach the same end goals and receive an equivalent education to students in other state and private schools.
School inspection: The Danish Agency for Education and Quality (under the Ministry of Children and Education) is responsible for the supervision of free schools/private schools. The government generally distinguishes between general and stricter school supervision, with the scope depending on the reason for supervision and observations made along the way. Supervision can take the form of risk-based supervision (screening of academic results), thematic supervision (targeted effort in areas where schools are particularly challenged or there is political desire for focus), and individual case supervision (typically a result of concerns raised from students, parents or others involved in the school). Free schools/private schools are additionally subject to financial supervision which includes an evaluation of the school’s finances, operations, and use of government grants. As part of the general supervision of the school, government officers can make an inspection visit to the school, attend some classes, and discuss and assess the curricula and pedagogical quality of material being used. The Ministry of Children and Education may also require board members to sign a declaration of compliance (which must be published on the school’s website). The purpose of initiating stricter supervision to an individual school is to uncover serious concerns relating to the school’s teaching, assessment, activities, and purpose. Stricter supervisions include a government observer appointed to the school board, individual meetings with the school’s management and teachers, and at least two unannounced inspection visits. The Agency does not conduct stricter supervisions without concrete reasons. Inspections during general supervision can either be notified or unannounced (with most being announced). The Danish Agency for Education and Quality has also established a whistle-blower scheme, which allows anyone (including staff and parents of students) to submit concerns relating to the free school/private school, which will then be followed up by the Agency.
Student assessment: The Ministry of Children and Education approves and supervises the examinations in all schools in Denmark (irrespective of ownership). Private schools at primary and lower secondary level can take part in national examinations on a voluntary basis (with examinations set for specific grades and subjects), with schools also having the option of being exam-free. If the school chooses to operate exam-free, it must inform the Ministry of Children and Education of its decision, make its status clear on its website, and inform all new parents that it does not hold examinations. Schools may also choose to not hold examinations in history and/or Christianity if the courses do not fit in with the school’s values (through a similar process of informing the Ministry and posting the information on its official website). At upper secondary level, students in all schools (state and private) prepare to take the upper secondary school leaving examination (”Studentereksamen”). However, private schools can obtain approval from the Ministry of Children and Education to follow international examinations (such as the International Baccalaureate) or not take part in national examinations on the basis of an alternative pedagogy (such as Steiner pedagogy). In the latter case, the student’s completion of upper secondary education is documented by a testimony that demonstrates the student’s competencies.
Diplomas and degrees: According to the Act on General Upper Secondary Education No.1716/2016, private schools that follow alternative pedagogies (such as Steiner pedagogy) are not obliged to offer students diplomas at the end of upper secondary school. Instead, the student’s education can be documented through a linguistic testimony that demonstrates the student’s competence in individual subjects. It is a condition that experimental or alternative pedagogical approaches do not negatively affect a student’s ability to access higher education or other equivalent rights obtained from traditional high school diplomas. Finally, private schools leading to international examinations are authorized to issue their students international diplomas.
Sanctions: If, as a result of a stricter supervision, the Ministry of Children and Education finds that a free school/ private school at primary and lower secondary level does not meet the requirements of the Private Schools Act No.1656/2021 the school may lose all government grants and the right to be a free school/private school. The Ministry of Children and Education may also decide that a new free school/private school is not granted a subsidy at all if the school fails to meet the requirements in management and finances. In the case of private schools of upper secondary education, the school’s permit and approval may be revoked for similar reasons, with particular emphasis on imminent risks detailed in the Private Schools of Upper Secondary Education Act No.3/2020. In the event of a school closure, the Ministry is responsible for ensuring the continued education of students affected.
In Denmark, there are no private higher education institutions offering bachelor or master degrees. Higher education is offered in three levels (short-cycle, medium-cycle, and long-cycle) and is provided tuition-free in business academies, university colleges, maritime education and training institutions, general and specialized research universities, and university-level institutions. All institutions offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees are owned and administered by the state through the Ministry of Higher Education and Science and the Ministry of Culture (the latter of which regulates only a small number of institutions within the fine and performing arts). They are mainly regulated by the Universities Act No.172/2018 and the Consolidation Act for Academy Profession Programs and Professional Bachelor's Programs.
Outside the bachelor and master structure, there is only a small number of programs administered by recognized private institutions (mostly within the fields of design, aviation, teaching, and healthcare), with 8 institutions having been officially approved by the Danish Agency for Higher Education and Science (within the Ministry of Higher Education and Science) for financial aid. Conditions for being approved for financial aid include being vocationally-oriented and providing at least 3 consecutive months of training. In contrast to the official higher education structure however, these programs are often fee-based, with students eligible to apply for state grants. An example is the Independent Academy for Free School Teaching, which offers a teacher training program that allows graduates to work in private schools, continuation schools, and folk high schools. The Ministry of Higher Education and Science (or other ministries) are not involved in the content and organization of these programs, nor do they directly supervise the education provided. However, the Danish Accreditation Institution may assess their programs when considering them for financial aid.
Registration and approval: No information was found.
Licence: No information was found.
Profit-making: No information was found.
Taxes and subsidies: No information was found.
Quality of teaching and learning
Curriculum and education standards: No information was found.
Teaching profession: No information was found.
Fee-setting: No information was found.
Admission selection and processes: No information was found.
Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability
Board: No information was found.
Reporting requirements: No information was found.
Inspection: No information was found.
Assessment: No information was found.
Diplomas and degrees: No information was found.
Sanctions: No information was found.
3.2 Supplementary private tutoring
While Denmark has been recorded to have one of the lowest participation rates in private supplementary tutoring in Europe (along with Sweden and Finland) at an approximate 8.5% rate in 2012, the practice has experienced significant growth since 2012. A study specifically showed a 458% increase in the number of private tutoring businesses in 2018 in comparison to 2000 – 2009. Largely based on the dominant Scandinavian concept of “private homework support”, the most dominant form of private supplementary tutoring services in Denmark by far is private one-to-one lessons at student’s homes which reinforce school teaching and mimic the common curriculum. Tutoring in large or smaller classes appears nearly entirely absent, while tutoring in groups of up to 3 students is quite common.
As a relatively recent and controversial phenomenon, commercially organized private tutoring remains largely unmonitored by state authorities in terms of regulation. Private tutoring services are registered as companies under the Danish Business Authority and are not regulated by the Ministry of Children and Education or Ministry of Higher Education and Science.
Private tutoring companies are registered as corporations under the Danish Business Authority through the Danish Act on Public and Private Limited Companies (the Danish Companies Act) No.470/2009, with additional registrations required as child-related businesses.
Financial operation and quality
Profit-making is not regulated in private tutoring services in Denmark, with providers allowed to be established as for-profit commercial businesses. The content delivered is similarly not regulated, with most companies providing lektiehjælp (homework support) and therefore delivering content which closely aligns with the national curriculum, using school assignments and instruction materials.
The qualifications of private tutors are not regulated, with most tutors being students at upper secondary or tertiary level rather than professional teachers. Out of a study of 10 private tutoring companies in 2020, only one used professional teachers as tutors, while the largest private tutoring company in the country employs an increasing number of secondary school students as tutors. Instead of professional teaching qualifications, tutors are mainly required to have top grades in the subjects taught. As a child-related business, all personnel working with children (including in private tutoring companies) are additionally required to submit a clean criminal record and a no paedophile-record.
This profile has been reviewed by the country.