Laws and regulations governing schools

If you have any questions about the laws and regulations governing primary and secondary education, you may find the following information useful.

The Education Act

Covers areas including:

  • The right and obligation to attend compulsory education and the right to upper secondary education
  • Private primary and lower secondary schools that do not receive state support and private tuition at home at primary and lower secondary level.
  • Help for children under compulsory school age who have special needs
  • Primary and secondary education for adults.

The Education Act establishes that in principle:

  • municipalities are responsible for state-run primary and lower secondary schools
  • county authorities are responsible for state-run upper secondary schools

The Act has rules governing areas such as:

  • the scope and content of the education provided
  • the organisation of the education system
  • adapted and special education
  • the physical and psychosocial school environment
  • student and parent participation (including advisory councils)
  • school management and teacher qualifications
  • student transport
  • vocational training in training establishments
  • complaints about breaches of students’ rights
  • state supervision and control to ensure compliance with laws and regulations

Link to the Education Act

Link to the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training’s information about legislation and regulations

Regulations pursuant to the Education Act

The Regulations pursuant to the Education Act contain rules about areas such as:

  • student assessment and school feedback to students and parents
  • appeals against marks awarded for classwork and exam results
  • certificates and attendance registers
  • student safety and security
  • the right to necessary counselling on special education, available courses and careers
  • admission to upper secondary education
  • procuring apprentices and training candidates for training establishments
  • the follow-up service for students who do not complete their upper secondary education

Link to the Regulations pursuant to the Education Act

Link to the follow-up service

Curricula

In addition to the Regulations pursuant to the Education Act, there are curricula for primary and secondary education. These are adopted pursuant to the Act, and have the status of regulations.

Link to the curricula

Environmental health in kindergartens and schools

Regulations relating to environmental health in state-run and private kindergartens and schools. The rules are supposed to create a positive social and physical environment that promotes good health and well-being, and prevents illness and injury.

Link to the Regulations relating to environmental health

The Independent Schools Act

The Independent Schools Act regulates private primary and secondary schools. The Act includes rules on the approval of private schools entitled to state support. For schools to be approved, they must fall into one of the following categories:

  • religious schools
  • schools adhering to a recognised educational philosophy
  • international schools
  • special upper secondary schools that incorporate training for elite sport
  • schools in other countries following the Norwegian curriculum
  • special schools for students with disabilities

International conventions oblige Norway to offer students the chance to choose alternatives to state schools. The system for approving private schools is designed to ensure that students attending private primary and secondary schools are complying with the obligation to receive education as established by the Education Act.

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training handles applications to set up private schools, and checks that schools are fulfilling the regulatory requirements and that state support is being used for the benefit of students.

Link to the Independent Schools Act

Link to the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training’s information about the approval of private schools

There are two sets of regulations pursuant to the Independent Schools Act. The general regulations set out rules for areas such as student assessment, exams, appeals and student transport. The financial regulations establish rules for budgeting, accounting, oversight and auditing.

General regulations pursuant to the Independent Schools Act]

Financial regulations pursuant to the Independent Schools Act]

Interpretation and explanation

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training is responsible for interpreting the Education Act, Independent Schools Act and associated regulations when clarification is needed at a national level. The Directorate is also responsible for circulars, and issues explanatory notes to clarify the rules in certain areas, as well as their application.

County Governors are responsible for informing and advising school owners, the general public and relevant target groups about the legislation governing state-run and private primary and secondary schools, as well as about any changes to it.

If you have any questions about the legislation, you should start by enquiring at your school, and if necessary raise the matter with the municipal education authority (in the case of primary and lower secondary schools) or the county education authority (for upper secondary schools). If you feel that you haven’t received a satisfactory answer from the municipal or county authority, you can contact the County Governor.

Link to search page for interpretations, circulars and explanatory notes

Link to the home page for County Governors