A relatively new concept for internationals moving to Denmark is the Danish Efterskole. These specialised schools deal with both the educational and personal development of students and embrace a common academic focus on enlightenment, values, general education and democratic citizenship.
Text: Josephine Wan
In most countries, children go to high school or college after their secondary school education. In Denmark, children can choose to go to an Efterskole (boarding schools that offer ninth and tenth grades but also offer classes from seventh grade). According to Statistics Denmark, this trend has been increasing over the last decade. In 2017, 26.5 percent of ninth and tenth-grade students in Denmark were attending Efterskole.
What is an Efterskole?
Efterskole is a unique self-governing independent boarding school where students between the ages of 14 and 17 can choose to spend a year or two of their secondary school education. “The first schools were founded about 150 years ago and were closely related to the Danish Folk High School and the educational ideas of NFS Grundtvig (1789–1872) who wanted schools to offer enlightenment for life, rather than just formal educational training.”
Why is Efterskole so popular in Denmark?
One reason why Efterskole is becoming popular is that they focus on the students´ professional, personal, and social development. During their time at Efterskole, they also learn to take responsibility for themselves and each other. These are valuable qualities for their later studies and adult lives. Besides that, they can also choose subjects such as music, sports, dance, etc. according to their interests. The community (fællesskab) is tremendously strong among Efterskole students which you often see during their heartfelt farewells on their last school day / at graduation after spending so much time and experiencing so much together.
How to find the right Efterskole for your child?
There are more than 240 Efterskoler to choose from. To choose the right one for your children, you can do the first search on this website: https://www.efterskolerne.dk/en to see what is available. You can sort the results by geographical locations, subjects offered, your child's interests, skills, etc. If you are specifically looking for one where the teaching language is in English, simply type “all subjects taught in English” in the search bar.
On the same page, you can also calculate the fee by pressing the “calculate price” button on the blue bar. Then you will get a list of the schools matching your criteria and their fee structure.
"In 2017, 26.5% of ninth and tenth grade students in Denmark were attending Efterskole."
The fee usually includes board at the school and an admission fee. The final cost can be discussed with the school. The Danish state offers subsidies, however, if the child isn’t a Danish citizen, the full fee applies. Though according to my correspondence with the Efterskole Association (Efterskoleforeningen) office: if one of the parents is or has been a Danish citizen, the fee will be based on the lowest price. There can be other additional costs such as trips, outdoor activities, etc. They vary from school to school.
There are also other criteria for applying for subsidies - you can read more about them here: https://www.efterskolerne.dk/da/Efterskoleforeningen/Leksikon/DF/Elevstoette#Udenlandse
Unfortunately, the information is only available in Danish. However, you are welcome to contact them for individual questions. You can either call them at 3312 8680 or contact them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The once in a lifetime experience
An Efterskole stay is a memorable experience for your child, as they will form deep, meaningful connections that will take them through into later life. Many people believe that the experience has a significant impact on the formation of your child's personality and development - usually in a positive way. When you have found the Efterskole that you are interested in, you can either contact them or visit them during their open days.