‘Free’ alternative schools booming across Denmark – The Post

‘Free’ alternative schools booming across Denmark

Some 17 percent of parents dig into their pockets to pay for their children’s education at the establishments

“I’m free to do what I want any old time!” (Photo: PIXABAY)
August 8th, 2015 6:55 am| by Lucie Rychla

Following the end of the summer holidays next Monday, three new so-called free schools (friskoler) will open in the market town of Hjørring in north Jutland, replacing three of the four public schools that are being shut down.
Hjørring is possibly the clearest example of the current boom in private schooling in Denmark, where its increasing number of free schools offer alternative forms of education or have a special focus.

Highest for years
According to the Education Ministry, some 30 independent school initiatives have paid the second instalment of the deposit required to get permission to open a private school, and 23 of them have informed the ministry of their address, suggesting they will actually open this year.

It is the highest number of free schools for many years. Just last year, 13 schools, which are members of the Danish Free School Association, opened.

Replacing public schools
Of the 23 free schools scheduled to open this year, eleven are replacing a closed public school.

Along with Hjørring Municipality, the regions of Brønderslev, Herning, Holbaek and Bornholm will all see schools opening.

While some of the local communities are opening their own schools to avoid becoming pensioner towns, others simply want to offer their kids an alternative form of education.

According to Peter Bendix, the chairman of the Danish Free School Association, many parents have become more aware of which school their children should attend because of the extensive discussions about school reform in recent years.

Partens are increasingly open for friskoler (photo: Lucelia Riberio)
Partens are increasingly open for friskoler (photo: Lucelia Riberio)


What is a Free School?

Free schools in Denmark were established according to the ideas of NFS Grundtvig and Christen Kold 150 years ago

They offer an alternative to the municipal schools and have roots in education at home

Most of them offer an education from kindergarten until the 9th grade
Although the schools are termed ‘free’, they are private and the parents pay fees of around 13,000 kroner a year. Some 71 percent, on average, is subsidised by the state.

Free schools can choose to base their school on an ideology of religious, political and pedagogical nature, and the various groups of free schooling include: ‘Grundtvig-koldske’ free schools, Christian free schools, free schools established by Muslim immigrants, schools inspired by Rudolf Steiner, schools for the German-speaking minority and more

Some of them have a school system without examinations and evaluate pupils in a different way than giving them grades

The Danish Free School Association currently registers 550 free schools with about 110,000 pupils, corresponding to 17 percent of Danish pupils. In comparison, at the public schools, 570,000 pupils attend only 1,300 schools.

(Source: friskoler.dk)