”The Danish Efterskole”

The Danish efterskole is an independent, educational and residential institution for learners typically aged 14-18, who can choose to spend one, two or three years to finish their upper secondary education. It is in many ways similar to the concept of boarding school, but has rather clear distinctions. The Danish efterskole is based on the idea of combining academic learning with that of general ‘life-learning’ as a preparatory tool for all aspects of life, as well as facilitating an understanding of ‘the individual in a community’. Solidarity, Community, Unity are key concepts within the Danish efterskole.

Danish Rule of Law

It is written in the “Efterskoleloven” (Danish Rule of Law on Independent Continuation Schools and their activities), under §1, that the primary objective of the efterskole is to ensure enlightenment and democratic culture, as well as offering courses that focus both on educational and personal development as well as the general culture of the learners. The Danish efterskole often represents a philosophy of offering such a variety of educational subjects, sports and activities that there is an opportunity for everyone to excel at something, and thus gain an experience and confidence to develop their talents to their own advantage and to the service of others. It is inherent in the culture of many efterskoles that they be a reflection of societal diversity and thus shall offer a variety of opportunities for personal, professional and cultural development.

History and Characteristics of “The Danish Efterskole”

The first efterskole was founded in 1851 by Christen Mikkelsen Kold, who gave inspiration to many Danish Folk High Schools and who was connected to the educational ideas of N.F.S. Grundtvig (1789-1872). Both Kold and Grundtvig wanted schools to provide enlightenment for life rather than formal vocational training.

Freedom of the Efterskole

Compared to public schools the efterskole has substantial freedom in terms of e.g. 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 learners.

Teacher-student relationship

One of the things that are unique about the efterskole is the teacher-learner relationship. The teacher is responsible for both teaching and supervision outside of school hours. This means that teachers and learners are together all day from the time they wake up until they go to bed. This often engenders a close, personal and non-formal relationship between learners and teachers.

Subjects and exams

Most efterskoles offer the same subjects and final assessments as the public schools, but many focus on special subjects like physical education, music or theatre, or teach an international or bilingual programme.

The Danish Free School System - "Prøve-fri 10. klasse" (Assessment-free 10th grade)

Ranum Efterskole College is an "Assessment-free 10th grade" according to Danish Rule of Law. Learners will therefore not be required to take Danish 10th grade assessment in all Danish subjects - just Danish, English and Mathematics FS10 assessment. Learners will instead finish all their IGCSEs with exams at the end of May, and do assessments in every subject at the end of each term (trimester).

Danish 9th grade learners will do Danish 9th grade assessments in May/June along with their IGCSE exam.

As every learner at Ranum Efterskole College is a member of an efterskole, we must emphasise that learners should be aware that special requirements may apply when applying for further studies in Danish Upper Secondary Education, fx STX, HTX, Gymnasiums and IB. For more information contact International Office at Ranum Efterskole College.

Number of schools and students

There are more than 280 efterskoles spread across Denmark, mostly in rural areas or near provincial towns. At present approximately 28.500 students attend the schools. Schools vary in size from 25 to 900 learners, but most schools have an average of approx. 80-100 learners. The number of learners has increased considerably within the last 25 years. Ranum Efterskole College is currently the largest general efterskole and third largest in total in the country.

For more information

Please use following link, which will lead you to an information brochure from the Danish Union of Efterskoles:


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