Schools - what Skellefteå newcomers need to know

Sweden is one of the best countries in the world for raising children, but what do international parents need to know about schools when they move to Skellefteå with their family? Let Norran be your guide.

Swedish schools offer a high-quality education.

Swedish schools offer a high-quality education.

Foto: Alexander Olivera/TT

Skola och utbildning2023-02-13 15:44

1. School types

There are two main types of schools in Sweden: public schools and independent schools. Public schools are free and follow the national curriculum, while independent schools can charge tuition (although very few do) and have more autonomy in their curriculum and teaching methods.

2. Age requirements

Children have to start formal education at the age of six and continue until they are 16 years old. After that, they can choose to attend gymnasiumskola (upper secondary school) for three years or then look for a job, although, it must be said, the majority of Swedish employers require a gymnasium diploma. Schooling starts with förskoleklass, a one-year preschool class that acts as a conduit between preschool and primary school. That is followed, at age 7, by primary or elementary school . Elementary school ranges from age 7-16 and is divided into three stages: lower middle school for 7-9-year-olds, middle school for 10-12-year-olds and upper secondary school from 13-15-year-olds. When a child turns 16, they can attend gymnasieskola.

3. School fees

Schooling in Sweden is mainly free, apart from förskola, where fees are heavily subsidised by the state and are income-based – costing a maximum of 1,572 kronor per child per month in 2022. Free school meals are also offered for all children.

3. Curriculum

The Swedish national curriculum sets the standards for what students should learn in each subject and grade level. The curriculum is designed to be broad and inclusive, and it places a strong emphasis on creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

Children have to start formal education at the age of six.

4. Language of teaching

Swedish is the main language of instruction in schools, but many schools also offer classes in English, particularly in subjects such as mathematics, science, and social studies. It's also common for schools to offer classes in other languages, such as German, French, and Spanish.

5. School culture

Swedish schools place a strong emphasis on equality and inclusivity. Teachers work to create a supportive and non-competitive environment where all students can feel valued and successful. This approach is reflected in the school's daily routines and activities, as well as in its grading system, which tends to be less focused on traditional grades and more focused on feedback and growth. Parents from countries with a more structured and disciplined approach to teaching may be a little surprised at the hubbub of many Swedish classrooms, but new students tend to acclimatize quite quickly.

6. School hours

School hours in Sweden typically run from around 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm or even later, depending on the age of the students. After-school activities and programs (fritids) are also available, and some schools offer a variety of extracurricular activities, such as sports, music, and arts.

7. Homework and grading

Homework is an important part of the educational experience in Sweden, and students can expect to receive regular assignments outside of class. However, the amount of homework given is generally less than in many other countries, and the focus is on quality over quantity.

Grading in Sweden is also a little different from what you may be used to. As students progress they'll increasingly encounter traditional letter or number grades, while younger children will benefit from teachers providing written feedback on student performance, focusing on strengths and areas for improvement.

Kids often learn outside, too. Credit: Scanpix/TT

8. Special education

Sweden has a strong commitment to providing special education services to students with disabilities or special needs. Schools work closely with parents and special education specialists to ensure that these students receive the support they need to succeed.

9. School choice

In Sweden, families have the right to choose their child's school, regardless of their place of residency. This means that you can choose a school that best fits your child's needs, whether it's a public school, an independent school, or even a school in another municipality.

10. School transitions

Moving to a new country can be challenging, especially for children, but Swedish schools are designed to help make the transition as smooth as possible. Schools work closely with families to support students as they adjust to their new environment, and they provide resources and support to help students make new friends and feel comfortable in their new surroundings.

If you’ve found an interesting school in Skellefteå, visiting the school before enrolment is very important. We also recommend bringing your child with you. After all, they will be the one spending five days a week there. When visiting, both of you can get a sense of the school environment, and ask someone all those questions you have.