Denmark background information


How the official decision of special educational needs (SEN) used in the country relates to the agreed EASIE operational definition

An official decision leads to a pupil being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.

Pupils’ legal entitlements under what legislation

Under Section 3 of the Act on the ‘Folkeskole’, children whose development requires special consideration or support receive special education in special schools and special classes or support in mainstream classes for at least nine hours per week.

According to Section 12 of the Act on the ‘Folkeskole’, referral to special need education occurs subsequent to pedagogical psychological counselling and consultation with the pupil and their parents.

How additional support is understood within the country context

The Statutory Order on ‘Folkeskole’ Special Needs Education and Other Educational Assistance (no. 693 of 20/06/2014) provides for:

  • Special educational advice for parents, teachers or other persons whose efforts have a significant impact on pupil development.
  • Special training materials and technical resources that are necessary for the pupil’s education.
  • Education in primary school subjects and disciplines organised with special regard to pupil learning conditions. For pupils in pre-school classes, this includes special educational assistance education and training, organised according to the pupil’s special needs.
  • Education and training in behaviours and practices that aim to remedy or mitigate the effects of intellectual, physical, linguistic or sensory function difficulties.
  • Personal assistance to help the pupil overcome practical difficulties in school.
  • Specially planned activities that may be provided in addition to the pupil’s special education.


The criteria for an official decision are:

A specific assessment of the pupil’s educational needs based on an educational psychological assessment.

There has been an educational assessment procedure involving a multi-disciplinary team

According to Section 12 of the Act on the ‘Folkeskole’, referral to special need education occurs subsequent to pedagogical psychological counselling and consultation with the pupil and their parents.

The multi-disciplinary team includes members from within and external to the pupil’s school

Pedagogical psychological counselling is part of the municipal administration. The employees include psychologists, speech and language therapists, reading tutors, inclusion tutors, mentors, behaviour and well-being experts and other resource personnel.

There is a legal document which describes the support the pupil is eligible to receive and which is used as the basis for planning

Planning is not regulated by legislation, but based on local (municipality) practice. The school principal or the municipality decides on who defines the action.

The official decision is subject to a formal, regular review process

This is not regulated by legislation, but rather based on local (municipality) practice.

Proxy indicator(s) for the 80% benchmark used for the country’s data collection

Data is available on the number of hours of support allocated to a pupil.

Details on what the country proxy is

Pupils with SEN who are included in mainstream classes with their non-disabled peers normally attend all class hours. These pupils receive support lessons at least nine hours per week – typically inside the class.

Why this proxy was used

It is the most transparent method to assess the 80% benchmark. There is no central record of how many hours an included pupil with SEN might spend in lessons without non-disabled peers. The understanding is that it is a very small number, if any.

Difficulties in using any proxy

In the Danish context, it is not appropriate to use a different proxy. All entries are made at individual level in each school, so there should be no doubt about correct records.

Specific country issues in applying the proxy

The Ministry of Education (renamed as the Ministry for Children, Education and Gender Equality in June 2015) receives information based on the schools’ own records of the number of pupils receiving special needs education in a mainstream class (inclusion) or in a special class (segregated in the regular public school).

Detailed description of what is meant by ‘out of formal education’ within the country’s data collection

The 2011 International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) defines 'Formal Education' as follows:

[…] education that is institutionalised, intentional and planned through public organizations and recognised private bodies and, – in their totality – constitute the formal education system of a country. Formal education programmes are thus recognised as such by the relevant national education or equivalent authorities, e.g. any other institution in cooperation with the national or sub-national educational authorities. Formal education consists mostly of initial education […] Vocational education, special needs education and some parts of adult education are often recognised as being part of the formal education system. Qualifications from formal education are by definition recognised and, therefore, are within the scope of ISCED. Institutionalised education occurs when an organization provides structured educational arrangements, such as student-teacher relationships and/or interactions, that are specially designed for education and learning.

(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011, 'International Standard Classification of Education ISCED 2011', p. 11).

Information on pupils considered out of education (i.e. those not in formal education as per the ISCED definition)

In the Danish context, there are no pupils outside formal educational settings.

In Denmark, education is compulsory for everyone between the ages of 6 and 16 (ten years of compulsory education). Whether education is received in a public school, a private school or at home is a matter of individual choice, as long as accepted standards are met. It is education itself that is compulsory, not school.

Provision of data on private sector education

The data collection covers all sectors of education, including numbers for the pupil population in the private sector.

Private sector education in the country

For the 2012/13 academic year, only information for public schools is included in the data tables, as the data on special education in private schools is calculated differently from that for public schools. It is expected that the data from private schools will be included in the next data collection.

The tables include information for the following Danish institution types:

  • 1012: ‘Folkeskole’ (municipal school – local school)
  • 1014: ‘Kommunale ungdomsskoler’ (municipal youth school – local schools for older pupils)
  • 1015: ‘Specialskoler for børn’ (special school)
  • 1016: ‘Dagbehandlingtilbud’ (special school).

The following three types of schools are not included:

  • 1010: ‘Efterskoler med samlet særligt tilbud’ (continuation special school)
  • 1011: ‘Efterskoler’ (continuation school)
  • 1013: ‘Fri grundskole’ (private independent school).

Pupil population counted for each relevant question

In private schools, there are approximately 70,000 students at ISCED level 1 and almost 37,000 at ISCED level 2.


Pupil age ranges

Usual pupil age ranges in the country at ISCED level 1: 5 to 12

Usual pupil age ranges in the country at ISCED level 2: 13 to 16

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