Principles and practice

Since its foundation in 1949, The Academy has embodied the spirit of Free School thinking. This is where teachers for Free Schools receive their training, and the quality of that training is central to the prosperity of Free Schools and of their students. Being a teacher at a Free School, an Efterskole or a Højskole requires much more than being able to teach a subject, since such schools are expected to deliver much more than traditional teaching. So being a student at The Academy involves the development not only of teaching skills but also of human, social and democratic qualities. The teachers, who emerged fully-fledged from the college, have acquired not only comprehensive and in-depth knowledge and ability in their chosen subjects and in related educational theory, but also a firm grounding in psychology, pedagogy and didactics, in relevant aspects of philosophy, ethics, language, story-telling, democracy, citizenship, history, national and cultural identity etc. In addition, they will have in-depth experience of democratic involvement and decision-making both inside the school setting and beyond, and will have extensive hands-on experience of enlivening and celebrating the community of learning. And they will have developed their own identity – as a teacher and as an individual.

Training to be a teacher at The Independent Academy for Free School Teaching takes at least five years. For four of these five years students are resident at the college. In their third year they are on a year’s salaried teaching practice in Denmark and, in many cases, abroad. The content of their course is broadly divided into:

Subject areas and didactics

Active democracy

Community activities

Teaching practice


The Academy admits about 75 students every year. There are no examination criteria for entry to the college, nor do students graduate with an exam qualification. Entry is on the basis of personal qualities and experience, while on graduation students receive a comprehensive assessment of their performance in these four key areas. The content of individual courses is determined exclusively by the Academy.

More detailed descriptions of syllabus content can be found below in the syllabus

The majority of decisions relating to the school are determined by students and staff in a democratic process, and everyone has the right of representation at all levels. However, any fundamental change is subject to the approval of the foundation governors, who ensure that the values and principles underlying the school’s activities are in line with the ideals of Grundtvig and Kold. The school prides itself on being at the cutting edge in its educational practice and methods, but any change affecting the whole school community is meticulously negotiated and recorded as part of the democratic process.

An important element in the school’s approach, however, is that significant aspects of its culture and activities cannot be captured in words. Bearing this in mind, in 2008 The Academy developed a new curriculum to describe its formal and obligatory requirements. Underlying that curriculum are the following six principles:

Teaching at the Independent Academy for Free School Teaching: 

has to develop the human, professional and pedagogical qualities of its students so that they are equipped to teach and take active part in school in the Free School tradition,

has to create understanding and respect for a view of humanity that sees each individual as being unique, as having broad latent potential for development and as being unconditionally rich in value,

has to create understanding and respect for an approach to learning that emphasises the mutual interchange between teacher and student and between knowledge and life experience,

has to place emphasis on wholeness, cohesion and meaning,

has to give students an understanding of the concepts of community, democracy and the common good,

is a highly personal matter but it is not at individual project. It is something that can only be carried out in collaboration with others.


 The course fee is about €2850 excl. accommodation.