Public schools in Sweden are open to everyone, including expats. These schools follow the Swedish national curriculum.
Public schools in Sweden take steps to accommodate non-Swedish speakers, with classes known as ‘preparatory classes’ which assist new arrivals in learning Swedish. Preparatory classes run alongside regular lessons – the goal is for students to reach a certain point of proficiency that allows them to be fully integrated into regular school classes. This usually takes around six to 12 months. In addition, some public schools offer expat students special classes to help them maintain mother-tongue proficiency.
Swedish schools are administrated by the local municipality in which they are located. These institutions are taxpayer-funded and charge no fees for students from the age of 3 to a maximum age of 20.
School is only compulsory for students aged six to 15, however. All nine years of compulsory education are undertaken at a comprehensive school (grundskola). Following this, students wishing to continue their education move on to upper secondary school.
Upper secondary school (gymnasieskola) is more specialised, and students must choose their path from a number of national programmes. Some are vocational and others prepare students for entry to higher education. There are also a handful of introductory programmes available to assist students who don’t yet qualify for a national programme. This includes a Swedish-language programme for newcomers to the country who aren’t proficient in Swedish.
Swedish schools generally have high standards and offer a good standard of education. As such, most local children in Sweden go to public schools. However, many expats choose to forego public school in favour of international schools.