Education and learning

Primary school

Småskolebarn Ungdomsskoleelever

Some facts about primary and lower secondary school

  • All children have the right to ten years of (primary and secondary) schooling. Children start in first grade the year they turn six.
  • All children have the right to adapted instruction and extra help for pupils who need it.
  • In primary school students are given an oral or written assessment, but do not receive marks.
  • In lower secondary school students receive marks in all subjects. Marks are given on a scale of 1 to 6, with 1 being the lowest mark and 6 the highest.
  • All primary and secondary school children move up to the next grade automatically after the summer holiday. This takes place regardless of the child’s school results. No children spend two years in the same grade.
  • Primary and secondary schools are organised in the same manner everywhere in the country. For example, everyone has 190 schooldays each year, but the politicians in every municipality decide when school holidays and breaks are scheduled.
  • All students are taught using the same curriculum. The curricula are approved by the politicians in Parliament. This means that children receive very similar education regardless of the municipality in which they live.
  • In addition to public primary and secondary schools, there are also a number of private schools. Only around 2.5 percent of children in Norway attend a private school.

Equality in education

The Education Act mandates that all children, regardless of ability or learning barriers, have the right to receive adapted instruction at their local school. This political principle is called equality in education. This means that students across the country are taught using the same curriculum.

Financing of primary and secondary school

Primary and secondary school are free of charge for both students and parents. Children loan their textbooks from the school and receive exercise books, pencils and other supplies from the school.

The public authorities pay all expenses. The biggest expenses are teachers’ pay and the building and operation of school buildings.

Families pay tuition fees for private schools. This fee is only a co-payment, however, since the government pays the remainder of the tuition cost.


SFO (skolefritidsordning): after-school care

The term SFO (after-school care programme) is used in all the municipalities, except Oslo. In Oslo, the same service is called AKS (activity school). All municipalities offer after-school care (SFO) to pupils in grades 1 through 4.

After-school is voluntary and is offered to families that need someone to watch their children before and/or after school hours because, for example, they have to work.

After-school care is not an educational service, but most facilities offer homework assistance.

After-school care is not free. Parents pay a co-payment every month and the remainder of the cost is paid for by the government. The amount of co-payment varies from municipality to municipality. In some municipalities, low-income families can apply for a reduced fee, while other municipalities charge the same price for everyone, regardless of income. Some municipalities offer a discount if the family has more than one child in after-school care.


Teachers are not permitted to use any form of violence (corporal punishment) against students. Discipline at school is based on human dignity for each child. Teachers are to show respect for students and, likewise, students are to show respect for teachers.