Norway has approximately 3 250 primary and lower secondary schools, with about 620 000 pupils and just under 60 000 teacher man-years.
There are ten years of primary and lower secondary schooling in Norway, and children start school at the age of six. Primary and lower secondary schooling is based on the principle of equal and individually-adapted teaching for all, in a school system built on a common curriculum. All children and young people are to be introduced to the common cultural, knowledge and value basis.
Schooling for children was first introduced in Norway in 1739. Primary and lower secondary schooling was fixed at seven years in 1889. In 1969, it was extended to nine years, and in 1997 it was extended to ten years. Primary and lower secondary schooling will, from autumn 2006, be divided into two main stages: the primary stage (grades 1-7), and the lower secondary stage (grades 8-10). There is great variation in the sizes of schools, ranging from combined schools in sparsely populated areas in which pupils from several grades are taught together, to large schools, which have several hundred pupils, in the biggest cities. Some schools provide only the primary stage, some only the lower secondary stage, and some cover all of the grades from 1 to 10.
The national curriculum and Education Act lay down the goals and principles of primary and lower secondary schooling in Norway.
Subjects taught in Norwegian primary and lower secondary schools are:
- Christian knowledge and religious and ethical education
- Social studies
- Arts and crafts
- Natural sciences
- Foreign language/language consolidation (at lower secondary level)
- Food and health
- Physical education
- An optional subject (at lower secondary level)
A curriculum for sign language as a first language have been developed for deaf children.
In the autumn of 2006, the new “knowledge promotion” curriculum will be introduced, with clear goals for pupils’ achievements at certain stages. The Sami knowledge-promotion curriculum will be introduced in Sami districts, at the same time. The Sami have indigenous population status in Norway, and have the right to individual Sami language lessons. Sami pupils are also entitled to be taught all subjects in Sami if they live in Sami districts, or elsewhere in the country if they form groups of at least ten.
Before- and after-school care
All Norwegian municipalities must provide day-care programmes before and after the regular school day for children in grades 1-4. These programmes must offer facilities for play, and cultural and recreational activities suited to the age, physical abilities and interests of the children. These programmes must also offer good development opportunities for children with disabilities.