Last updated: 26 7 2018
All children have the right to an education. The municipality is obliged to offer you a place in school. Read here about what rules apply and about what support you can be given in order to be able to attend Swedish school.
Compulsory school attendance and the right to education
Compulsory school attendance means that your children have to attend school unless there is a legitimate reason for them not to.
Compulsory school attendance for your child begins in the autumn term of the year that your child turns six years of age, if your child is registered, or is going to be registered, in the Population Register as resident in a municipality. Preschool class attendance is also compulsory, though in some cases it may be possible for your child to go straight into compulsory school, special needs compulsory school or special school. Compulsory school attendance usually applies for ten years.
If there are special reasons, compulsory school attendance may only begin in the autumn term of the year your child turns seven. Such a postponement will be considered by your municipality if you have made a request for it. If compulsory school attendance is postponed, your child will offered preschool attendance.
Compulsory school attendance is an obligation that corresponds to a right to education. Your child is entitled to an education in preschool, preschool class, compulsory school or special needs compulsory school, special school and day recreation centres.
Your child is also entitled to begin studies in upper secondary school or special needs upper secondary school until the year s/he turns 20, if the child is registered or is going to be registered as resident in a municipality.
Contact your municipality
Your municipality is obliged to offer your children places in school. If you have one or more children who need places in preschool, preschool class, compulsory or special needs compulsory school, special school, upper secondary or special needs upper secondary school, contact your municipality. They will give you more information about what you should do.
Your child must be offered a preschool place within four months of you having contacted the municipality and informed them that your child needs a preschool place.
Your child must begin compulsory school or be offered a place in upper secondary school as soon as possible. This should not be more than a month after your arrival in Sweden.
Assessment of previous knowledge
Assessment in compulsory school
When your child begins compulsory school, the school staff need to assess what previous knowledge your child has. The assessment takes age, previous knowledge and personal circumstances into account. Within two months of your child starting school, the head teacher at the school has to decide which year and class your child is to attend. The assessment is also used in the continued planning of your child's education. An interpreter or a teacher who speaks your child's native language is used during the assessment.
If your child needs to attend special needs compulsory school or special school
If the school staff suspect that a child belongs to the target group for special needs compulsory school or special school, that child's case will be further examined before a decision is made on what form of education is best for him/her. Your child cannot be accepted into special needs compulsory school or special school without a decision by your municipality and the National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (Specialpedagogiska skolmyndigheten).
Assessment in upper secondary school
In upper secondary school, teachers have to make a continuing assessment of your child's knowledge. This assessment will be the basis for your child's continued education.
Attending upper secondary school is voluntary. In upper secondary school your child can attend various national programmes or introduction programmes. The national programmes include both vocational programmes and preparatory programmes for subsequent higher education.
In order for your child to be able to attend a vocational programme, s/he has to have a Pass grade in Swedish or Swedish as a Second Language, English, Mathematics, as well as in another five subjects. In other words, a Pass grade is required in eight subjects in total.
In order for your child to be able to attend a preparatory programme, s/he has 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 your child does not qualify for the national programmes, s/he can attend one of the five introduction programmes. Introduction programmes are flexible in terms of the pace, scope and content of studies. The programmes also have to be adaptable to your child's previous knowledge and needs.
In preparatory class your child studies various subjects at the same time as s/he is taught the basics of the Swedish language. The aim of having your child study one or several subjects in preparatory class is for him/her to be able to join lessons in the ordinary class as soon as possible.
Your child can be offered teaching in a preparatory class for a maximum of two years, but cannot have all his/her lessons in that class. What share of teaching your a receives in preparatory class and what share s/he receives in ordinary class varies from child to child. The head teacher at each school decides how teaching is organised.
The teacher has to assess a child's knowledge in the various subjects taught in the preparatory class. When the teacher determines that a child is capable of participating in ordinary class in a given subject, the child must begin to attend those lessons instead.
Swedish as a Second Language
In compulsory school your child can be taught Swedish or Swedish as a Second Language. Children who don't have Swedish as their native language can study Swedish as a Second Language if they need to. The head teacher at the school decides whether a child can study Swedish as a Second Language. You can contact the head teacher if your child needs to study Swedish as a Second Language.
In upper secondary school your child can study Swedish or Swedish as a Second Language.
In compulsory school your child can have a priority timetable. This means that s/he receives more teaching in Swedish or Swedish as a Second Language.
In order for your child to have more time for Swedish, lessons in other subjects have to taken off the timetable. The total number of lessons is the same, but teaching time is redistributed so that there is more time for Swedish or Swedish as a Second Language. The head teacher at the school decides if a child is going to have a priority timetable. A child can have a priority timetable for a maximum of one year.
Native language lessons
Your child may be entitled to native language lessons if his/her native language is not Swedish. In preschool and preschool class your child must be given the opportunity to develop both his/her native language and Swedish. In compulsory and upper secondary school your child is entitled to native language lessons if certain requirements are met.
If you want your child to have native language lessons you have to apply for it. Ask at the school how to do this and what the requirements are.
Study guidance in your child's native language
Study guidance in your child's native language is important in order for him/her to make use of what s/he already knows in the various school subjects. Your child must be given study guidance in his/her native language if s/he needs it. Contact the teacher or head teacher at the school for more information about study guidance.