The Swedish Education Act stipulates that all children and young people must have access to education of equal value, irrespective of gender, place of residence and social and financial circumstances. In Sweden, compulsory schooling lasts for nine years and children have a right to education from the age of seven.
The obligation to attend school can be met in compulsory school, compulsory school for pupils with learning disabilities, special needs school or Sami school. Compulsory school education is to provide all pupils with the knowledge and skills they need to participate in social life and in continued education. Special support is to be given to pupils who have difficulties with school work. School is free of charge, but minor amounts may be charged for one-off activities. Educational content is determined by the curriculum and subject syllabuses. Individual development plans and written assessments are to be provided every school year and grades are given from year 8.
Alongside the municipal schools, there are independent schools that are open to all. Independent schools must be approved by the National Agency for Education. Independent school education is required to have the same objectives as municipal school education but may, for example, have a religious or methodological profile that differs from that of municipal schools.
Most children with disabilities are educated in compulsory school. However, children with certain disabilities are placed in special needs schools. Special needs schools cater to children who are deaf or hearing impaired, visually impaired with a further disability and children with severe language impairments. Special needs schools offer ten years of education which, as far as possible, is to be equivalent to that given in compulsory school.
Children with mental impairments can attend compulsory school for pupils with learning disabilities. Compulsory school for pupils with learning disabilities consists of nine years of education either at a compulsory school for pupils with learning disabilities or at a training school. Children with minor mental impairments go to compulsory school for pupils with learning disabilities. Training schools are for pupils who are so mentally impaired that they are unable to benefit from education at compulsory school for pupils with learning disabilities.
Sami children can receive Sami-oriented education in Sami schools. This education corresponds to the first six years of compulsory school.