Education In Norway
Expats moving to Norway can rest assured about the education their children are going to get, since the Norwegian schooling system has a rich 250 year history. In 1889, there was a nationalized education system that insisted on seven years of compulsory schooling for every citizen. Today, it is mandatory for every resident child to have at least ten years of schooling, preferably from age six to sixteen.
The day care centres, public schools (free of charge for everyone, expats included), private schools, international schools and world-class universities make Norway a premier education destination in Europe.
The schooling year in Norway begins in late August and ends in early June, with the Christmas break (December - January) dividing the academic year into two terms. Moreover, there are winter holidays (vinterferie) and Easter holidays (Paskeferie) that students spend skiing and skating. Schools usually shut down at 3 pm in the afternoon, after which children are either sent home or to day care centres.
The Barnehage (Day Care Centre)
Most parents send their children to day care centres (barnehages) right from age one. There are various kinds of day care centres you can choose from, some in your own neighbourhood. Some of them operate for the whole day, while some are open only in the evening, while a few allow mothers and children to collectively indulge in learning and skill building activities (apen barnehage).
While the day care centre practice might come across as a punishing routine to a few expat mothers, the children are known to cope well. It is thus, advisable for you to enroll your child in a day care facility close to your house (even if it is simply for a few hours every day).
Norway has numerous public schools free of charge for everyone residing in the beautiful country, expats included. However, the medium of instruction is strictly Norwegian and English is rarely spoken and understood in these institutions.
The Barneskole is the elementary school, the Ungdamsskole is the lower secondary school and the Videregeande Skole is the higher secondary school, after which students join a university or take vocational program courses of their choice. Subjects taught include Norwegian, science, maths, environment, Sami culture and history and basic geography.
Private and International Schools
Until 2005, there were hardly any private schools in Norway because the Government considered "private schools that were non-pedagogic and non-religious" illegal. Thus, there were only a scant few missionary schools operated and funded by Christian authorities within and outside Norway.
Today, since the Government policy has changed and private schools are valued and admired, the numbers of private and international schools are fast increasing. Expats from Britain might want to look at the private schools with English as the primary medium of instruction that cater to the IB syllabus. You can also find American schools with a SAT examination compliant curriculum. There are a number of French and German schools located in cities too, for you to choose from.
The fees charged by international schools are relatively high and you may find yourself shelling anywhere between NOK 30,000 to NOK 105,000 per annum. You may want to look at www.studyinnorway.no for more details.