Types of Free Schools

The majority of independent schools for children in Denmark are, indeed, Free Schools, though there are others, such as the larger independent schools, Steiner schools, denominational schools, and schools for immigrants or for minorities.

An independent school for children will be officially recognized and receive government funding regardless of its ideological, religious, political or ethnic orientation. Parental contributions are in the region of €100 per month.

Some Free Schools are very old, some are more recent, and new ones are being added all the time. It is characteristic of Free Schools that they are smaller than state schools. They can be roughly categorized into three forms: the independent primary and secondary school for children (Friskole), the independent pre-sixth form boarding school for teenagers (Efterskole), and folk high schools, also boarding, for young people and adults (Højskoler). Although many Free Schools are in rural areas – and a large proportion on the island of Funen where they were first established – there are few areas in the country where the Free School is not within easy reach.

Free school thinking is, then, an integral part of the Danish educational system. For over a hundred years it has offered a holistic alternative to traditional schooling that focuses on the individual throughout the course of his/her life, and its success is usually measured not primarily through the simplistic criteria of examination results – although here, too, Free Schools tend to lead the field – but through the testimony of the lived lives of hundreds of thousands of pupils.