Main menu

Preamble - Iceland

Icelandic primary/lower secondary schools are governed by similar compulsory education legislation to that in other Nordic countries. The first school level is the pre-school, which is not compulsory but is attended by over 90% of children. This is followed by primary/lower secondary school, which is a ten-year compulsory school from the ages of 6 to 16. According to the objectives stated in the Compulsory Schools Act, on which the schools’ work is based: 

Compulsory schools shall make an effort to carry out their activities to correspond as fully as possible with the nature and needs of their pupils and encourage the overall development, well-being and education of each individual. 

In Icelandic primary/lower secondary schools, great emphasis is placed upon special needs teaching for handicapped pupils and those with learning difficulties. In the international PISA study, Iceland shared first place with Finland regarding equality between pupils and between schools. Only 0.5% of pupils in compulsory education attend special schools. Parents of handicapped pupils have increasingly called for handicapped children to study with their contemporaries in their local school, receiving special needs teaching and support in accordance with their needs. Pupils move up through the grades in accordance with their age, but in special cases a pupil may progress more quickly, or more slowly, through the grades. In 2004 about 1% of pupils in Year 10 were ahead of or behind their Year group.



  • Compulsory Schools Act, no. 66/1995
  • LinkedIn
  • Google +