Country information for Norway - Systems of support and specialist provision

Administration and governance

The education system is administered at three levels (central level, county level, municipal level). Each level has different responsibilities: 

  • The State (the Ministry of Education and Research) has overall responsibility for the whole education sector, including kindergartens, and directly administers the institutions of higher education and research. 
  • The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training is the executive agency for the Ministry of Education and Research. 
  • The counties are responsible for upper-secondary education: running the schools, the intake of learners, organising apprenticeships and appointing teachers. 
  • The municipalities are responsible for kindergartens and primary and lower-secondary education (compulsory education): running the schools, the construction and maintenance of school buildings, the intake of learners and appointing teachers. 

The ‘Education Mirror’ is an annual publication providing an insight into the educational status quo. 

General administration at national level

The government has overall responsibility for quality development, management and financing of the kindergarten sector and allocates earmarked funds for running kindergartens. 

At national level, the Ministry of Education and Research is assisted by: 

  • the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training;
  • the County Governors, as representatives of the Ministry in every county;
  • various advisory bodies.

Ministry of Education and Research

The Ministry of Education and Research is responsible for policy issues and for all matters relevant to the education system as a whole. The Ministry is also responsible for following up resolutions made in the national assembly, as well as for the overall administration of education and research at a national level. 

The Ministry is responsible for: 

  • the national Framework Plan for the Content and Tasks of Kindergartens;
  • national examinations and assessment in primary and secondary education and training;
  • the development and approval of curricula;
  • school management and in-service training;
  • school development programmes and outcome measures. 

The Ministry issues guidelines to accomplish these tasks. 

Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training

The Directorate is the executive agency for the Ministry of Education and Research. In this capacity, the Directorate has overall responsibility for supervising education and the governance of the education sector, as well as the implementation of Acts of Parliament and regulations. 

The Directorate aims to ensure that all children, learners and apprentices receive the high-quality education to which they are entitled. 

The Directorate is responsible for all national statistics concerning primary and secondary education. Based on these statistics, it initiates, develops and monitors research and development.

The Directorate has operative responsibility for curriculum development, national examinations and assessment. 


Norwegian National Service for Special Needs Education (Statped) and state-owned schools

Statped is in charge of providing equitable services to municipal and county authorities that require assistance. It mainly works in collaboration with the local support system, the Educational and Psychological Counselling Service (PP-tjenesten, PPT). It provides services at both individual and system level. A child, young person or adult may receive an individual service. A system-based service is not focused on one individual, but is given to kindergartens, schools and staff. A service to an individual can lead to a system-based service, such as competence training for staff (Sources: Financing of Inclusive Education – Norway Country Report; CPRA – Norway Country Report, p. 7; FPIES – Norway Country Report, pp. 11–12). 

The number of teaching hours dedicated to special needs education rose by 17% per pupil between 2002/2004 and 2013/2014. Special needs education constituted 18% of the teaching hours in primary and lower-secondary school in 2013 (Source: Financing of Inclusive Education, p. 37).

General administration at county level

County Governor

County Governors act as links between the Ministry of Education and Research and the educational sector. County Governors implement kindergarten and school policy through development work, administrative tasks, supervision and guidance for municipalities. 

County Governors act as guardians of civic rights. They may look into local decisions regarding the rights of any individual in the fields of health and social care, education, building and planning. They may change the decision to benefit the individual. 

The Office of the County Governor monitors basic education standards by documenting, evaluating and providing advice on educational matters. The Office of the County Governor also checks the legality of decisions made, handles complaints and processes appeals relating to basic education. Since 2006, the County Governors’ main task is to inspect the local governments to ensure that basic education is in accordance with the Education Act. County Governors also inspect kindergarten authorities to ensure that early childhood education and care is in accordance with national regulations. 

The County Governor’s Office also co-ordinates basic education examinations. 

General administration in local authorities

The Kindergarten Act states that the municipalities are the local authorities for kindergartens. The municipality must provide guidance and ensure that kindergartens are operated in accordance with current rules. 

The municipalities provide and run municipal kindergartens and approve and supervise both public and private kindergartens in the municipality. The municipalities must also ensure that the kindergartens are operated within their approval framework and that the contents comply with legislation, regulations and the framework plan. 

The municipalities are obliged to ensure that there are enough kindergarten places. Private kindergartens have a legal right to approval if they are suitable in terms of purpose and content and fulfil the requirements of the Kindergarten Act. 

Municipal authorities must ensure that public subsidies are paid on an equal basis to all the approved kindergartens in their municipality. Kindergarten owners are responsible for the contents of the individual kindergarten. The parents’ council for each kindergarten determines a yearly plan ensuring the participation of parents and staff in framing the educational contents. Kindergarten owners are responsible for employing adequate and qualified staff. 

The municipalities are also responsible for: 

  • the intake of learners for primary and lower-secondary school;
  • employing teachers;
  • running schools;
  • giving courses in Norwegian as a second language to adults;
  • securing co-operation between schools and advisory bodies in the municipalities in primary and lower-secondary education. 

The municipal authorities influence: 

  • the number of pre-primary teachers and assistants employed and their qualifications; 
  • the integration of children with disabilities; 
  • the standard of the buildings and the equipment;
  • the planning of inter-municipal co-operation on early childhood education and care issues. 

Administration and management in primary and secondary education

Primary, lower- and upper-secondary and adult education are administered and managed according to the Education Act. The head teacher is the head of the school and therefore responsible for both the administrative and pedagogical aspects of running the school. 

The head teacher is responsible for administrative activity and enforces decisions taken at various levels of the administration. The head teacher is responsible for the school budget within the framework established by the municipality and county authorities and for contact with parents and local authorities. Depending on the size of the school and the municipality, head teachers can also perform teaching activities. 

Local support system

The Educational and Psychological Counselling Service (PP-tjenesten, PPT) is a municipal or county municipal advisory and guidance service. Its purpose is to help children, adolescents and adults who are experiencing developmental difficulties or education-related difficulties. The PPT exists to provide kindergartens and schools with guidance and counselling about how to organise learning and social situations for learners who need help. The PPT helps schools to organise learning in better ways to help learners with special needs. 

Pre-school: Information for parents regarding the PPT and special education assistance

School: Information for parents regarding the PPT and special needs education

Administration and management in upper-secondary education

The county authorities are legally obliged to follow up on young people between the ages of 16 and 21 who are neither attending an education course nor in employment. 

Learners who have a right to special needs education are entitled to an extra two years of upper-secondary education or training if it is necessary for them to achieve their educational objectives. This right also applies to learners who are entitled to education in sign language or Braille.


Last updated 05/02/2020

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