The Efterskole is a unique Danish residential school, where students from the ages of 14 to 18 can choose to spend one, two or three years to finish their primary education. For general information about the Danish school system, please see this publication by the Danish Ministry of Education
Common educational purpose
Each efterskole is a self-governing independent institution and they all deal with both the educational and personal development of the students. They embrace a common educational focus on enlightenment for life, general education and democratic citizenship.
The first efterskole were founded about 150 years ago. The schools were closely related to the Danish Folk High School and the educational ideas of N.F.S. Grundtvig (1789-1872) who wanted schools to provide enlightenment for life rather than formal vocational training. Read more about the history
Freedom of the Efterskole
Compared to public schools the efterskole has substantial freedom in terms of eg. choice of subjects, teaching methods and educational approach. These vary in accordance with the school’s political, religious or pedagogical orientation. Freedom of the efterskole is assured by substantial state subsidies to both schools and students.
One of the things that are unique about the efterskole is the teacher-student relationship. The teacher is responsible for both teaching and supervision outside of school hours. This means that teachers and students are together all day from the time the students wake up until they go to bed. This often engenders a close, personal and non-formal relationship between students and teachers.
Subjects and exams
Most efterskoles offer the same subjects and final examinations as the public schools, but many focus on special subjects like physical education, music or theatre, or offer various kinds of special education.
Number of schools and students
There are about 250 efterskoles spread across Denmark, mostly in rural areas or near provincial towns. At present approximately 28.500 students attend the schools, and about 20% of all Danish students attend an efterskole for either one, two or three years. Schools vary in size from 35 to 500 students but must have a minimum of approx. 120 students. The number of students has increased considerably within the last 25 years.