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Choosing the right forks in the road

By Ben Hamilton Education in Denmark involves lots of decisions, and we hope this special edition will arm you with the necessary knowledge to make them on behalf of your children, and then, as they get older, to advise them. There are forks in the road that can have a huge impact on your child’s journey from the crib to the workplace (see The Six Stages below), and sometimes there is no going back. International vs Danish For example, as international parents, should you send your infant to an English-speaking daycare facility (PAGES 6-7), there is the danger they may never become fully bilingual. But in an international setting they will be exposed to more diversity from an early age – a huge positive in our increasingly globalised society (PAGES 4-5). At the age of five or six, your child is then faced with a choice between the free Danish public school system, or a fee-paying, but heavily state-subsidised international school (PAGES 8-9) or a friskole – an establishment



with a special focus. From the age of 14, children are eligible to go to an efterskole (see PAGE 10) – a boarding school with a special focus – but the choice is limited for those not fluent in Danish. Vocation vs gymnasium With their elementary schooling out of the way, your child has three choices: leave education, pursue a vocational training or continue onto gymnasium (PAGES 12-13), the upper-secondary school that will prepare them for higher learning (PAGES 14-15). In an increasingly competitive job market, choosing a vocation has an obvious appeal. But what happens if the career awakens a curiosity in a subject that can only be properly explored via higher learning. Of all the forks in the road, it is the most treacherous. Among the world’s best But remember, the Danish school system is considered one of the best in the world. Higher education and training in Denmark ranked 6th in the World Economic Forum’s league table 2017-2018 and 5th in the 2019

Universitas 21 rankings following a solid year in which it closed the gap on the Nordic region’s top dog, Sweden. And when it comes to language, the options are numerous at the international schools, where classes are taught in English, French, Spanish, German or Japanese. For some years now, the International Baccalaureate (IB) has also been gaining ground in Danish schools, the diploma giving access to university education in Denmark and all over the world. Finally, Denmark has a long tradition for lifelong learning and many Danes participate in adult education. Workplaces also expect staff to upgrade their skills through educational schemes throughout their working careers.

THE SIX STAGES 1. Pre-school 2. Primary and lower secondary education 3. Upper secondary education 4. Vocational education and training 5. Higher education 6. Adult learning

Institut Sankt Joseph´s International Bilingual Program The Bilingual Department at Institut Sankt Joseph (ISJ) has seen it´s student body grow from 75 students when it opened in 2014 to now 215 students with almost full classes across the department. We have more than 80 nationalities at our school, and students coming both from the Østerbro area but also further afield. ISJ offers a fully bilingual education, where the students can become academically fluent in both Danish and English. This gives our students the possibility to succeed both in a Danish and international context. This flexibility is valid both if a student has to move during their education, or after graduation when our students have the possibility of attending both a Danish or International program here in Denmark or abroad. In terms of the curriculum framework, Mathematics, English, and Science subjects are taught in English by native English speakers following the Cambridge International Examinations system, whereas Danish, Art, Religion and Music are taught in Danish, by native Danish speakers following “de danske fællesmål” (The Danish National Curriculum). The program is designed not only for families leaving Denmark, but also for families who will potentially stay in Denmark for the foreseeable future. Thus, the school feels it is important the Danish language and cultural immersion that goes with being part of a Danish school are cultivated and maintained. Institut Sankt Joseph believes that it can meet both of these objectives. The international bilingual program seeks to provide not only flexibility here and now, but also for the future. This means that students will have the unique opportunity to attend either an international i.e. IB program or a danish gymnasium upon completion of studies at Institut Sankt Joseph, or be able to move abroad with their qualifications from ISJ. Our student’s well-being is also a key to their success and integration into Denmark. We try to meet the student in their unique situation from their first day with us, by being curious about their background, identity and culture and how we can celebrate that in the class. We help students learn Danish, while easing the transition with English communication. In addition, we look to provide networking opportunities for the whole family so that they can get assistance both practically and begin to create a network. As an added bonus, ISJ is also a school, which likes to be new thinking and very much values the role of the students and the institution in the grander scheme of the world. With that in mind, the school plans a very large bi-annual event where the focus is on our fellow human beings, and this year’s focus is on the UN’s world goals, whilst also supporting charity. Our “MOVE IT” week will take place in October, and will culminate in a charity run at Kastellet. Another

new initiative is the opening of a Soup Kitchen through the fellowship of Sant’Egidio. Thursday 22nd August saw the start of this programme, which we hope to continue to bring out to those in need in Copenhagen.

out for news of dates on our website: www.

Everyone is welcome to join, so please watch


For more information about the school please see our website or book an appointment


International or Danish: that is the question

A diverse setting will broaden your child’s horizons, but at what cost to the world outside their window?

By Ben Hamilton Our educational journeys are beset by crucial decisions: what country were we educated in – so, are our qualifications recognised in Denmark, or did we waste ten years training as an atomic physicist? – what schools did we go to, what subjects did we study, and what language were we principally educated in? Forget the 11-plus, this is the six-fuss! Given that you’re reading this, we can safely assume you’ve opted on Denmark as the country to educate your children in, but the rest of the decisions are up in the air. Combining two of them – the choice of school and language – the first one comes pretty early (as young as three, although six is more typical), although it can be delayed for a while. But eventually a decision needs to be made, as choosing between an education at a Danish-language, free public school or an English-speaking, fee-paying international establishment will have far-reaching implications for the rest of your child’s education. Danish education pros Sending your child to a Danish school will



make them Danish – regardless of whether one or both of the parents are internationals. That might sound like opinionated claptrap, but the homogenous nature of the Danes comes from their upbringing. Unless they are sociopathic or chronically shy, they’ll have friends for life. Danish people are immensely tolerant because the group is only as strong as the weakest member. Sibling-like bonds are formed with classmates, and they learn to accept each other’s flaws and even like them. There’s a reason why the Danes like the Brits so much. With friends comes a strong network that they can draw on for the rest of their lives. Most Danes tend to have children in Denmark because they enjoyed their experience so much (and because it’s mostly free!). And going to the local school on your doorstep is convenient. It gives children a sense of belonging to a community, which makes it easier to advance in that environment as an adult. Danish educations tend to be holistic, practical and strong on empathy and crafts. Your children will emerge as well-rounded and more than able at making Christmas decorations and home improvement.

International education pros Sending your child to an international school will make them worldly – without even leaving the country. It will expose them to unbelievable diversity, cementing an openmindedness that will stay with them forever. By the time they finish school, they’ll have an enviable network of friends and contacts all over the world. The exposure to different languages, cultures, religions and nationalities will make them knowledgeable far beyond what they learn in the classroom. If your child already speaks two or three languages, the school will give them a chance to flourish. Heading to an overseas university, and potentially one of the world’s top establishments, is de rigueur at an international school. The careers advisors are highly experienced in offering advice on traversing the borders of Denmark. Overall, with the school’s autonomy as a private establishment and universallyrecognised IB curriculum you can rest assured that the school will deliver the kind of education it promised – regardless of any changes to the political landscape. Danish education cons Ultimately, if your child is Danish, you might

Your child’s interests might be more predictable than eclectic – you worry how they will stand out in life. You might find that going to the local school limits their horizons, and that they are apprehensive about testing themselves in new surroundings. Their contact pool outside their neighbourhood is mostly likely limited. The Danish education system is changeable – the goal posts tend to move at lot. Whether it’s the length of the school day, the existence of homework, the syllabus or the quality of the teachers, it’s fair to say that in the ten years it takes to complete, the system barely resembles the one your child started. Overall, in a country where janteloven is still prevalent, their higher education prospects might seem a little pedestrian.

Long-term friendships are a rarity at international schools where very few pupils last the distance as new students come and go. The upshot, of course, is that children get used to this and get to practice at being personable. Given the international background of most of their friends, many won’t remain in Denmark after graduation, which can be a painful experience. They will of course have lots of social media friends, but they might feel lonely. If they are Danish or half-Danish, going to an international school might make them feel like an outsider in their own country. This could be exacerbated when they travel to their other ‘home country’ and are again treated like they don’t belong. In conclusion We hope you don’t infer we were trying to influence you one way or the other. Ahead of you lies a difficult choice, but rest assured: sometimes either choice would have been the right one, and sometimes neither!

An International Baccalaureate World School

• We welcome students from ages 3 to 18 • We offer the full continuum of International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes: PYP, MYP and DP, as well as Pre-K • We deliver an excellent, well-rounded education in a caring and supportive learning environment • We offer exciting trips, electives, and many more activities beyond the classroom • We have Morning Club and After School Care • We are affordable and offer scholarships • Our teachers are passionate and highly qualified • We pride ourselves on fostering reflective and purposeful learners, as well as responsible global citizens • We are considerate, form warm relationships, and build and nurture our ISH Community The International School of Hellerup is a Not-For-Profit IB World School with over 500 students representing more than 50 nationalities from around the world.

Find out more about ISH, book a visit or contact us at + 45 70 20 63 68 I I

Copyright ISH 2019 (09.19)

When you look at the curriculum, you might regret its limitations and assume you’re going to carry on winning Trivial Pursuit games with the family for the rest of your life.

International education cons Despite the school’s best efforts, the students might feel a little disconnected from their local community – like all the local kids know each other, but they only have friends at school.

G lobal Mindset - Global Education - Global Life

feel that they have not absorbed as much of your country’s culture, idiosyncrasies and humour as you might have liked.


Who said the twos were terrible?

The daycare institutions where infants evolve into model citizens

By Stephen Gadd Pre-school education can cost an average annual salary in some countries. In London, for example, it’s not uncommon to have to pay in the region of 20 to 30,000 pounds a year, leaving many parents with no other option than staying at home to oversee the terrible twos and threes themselves, before gratefully handing their children over to the state system to take care of the fearsome fours. For many internationals, therefore, it is with unbridled joy that they learn that 70 percent of the costs of daycare are subsidised by the local municipality. Suddenly the twos and threes are more tiredout than terrible! A proud history Denmark has a long history of pre-school education stretching back to the 1820s, when the first schools were set up to instruct the children of working families where both parents went out to work. Initially, they were places to look after children but between 1850 and 1900, private educational institutions appeared that had pedagogical objectives as well. All children under the age of six are legally



entitled to attend a daycare facility. This term covers institutions such as crèches, daycare institutions, nursery schools and ageintegrated institutions.

obtain a financial subsidy to pay for the place. There is also the possibility of obtaining an aided-place subsidy if the parental income is below a certain level.

The development of the child is prioritised very highly, so as well as providing a safe environment for childcare, the institutions co-operate with parents to support the development of the individual’s self-esteem.

CHILD-MINDING IN PRIVATE HOMES In the local-authority regime, child-minding takes place in a private home and a childminder can take care of up to five children. Children are assigned to individual childminders by the local authority. If two or more child-minders work together, they may be permitted to look after up to ten children.

DAYCARE FACILITIES Because daycare is a legal requirement, the local authority is obliged to provide facilities for any child aged 26 weeks and up to school age. These can be organised in various ways – either as local-authority child-minding, local-authority daycare centres, independent daycare centres, private child-minding, or an approved private daycare centre.

There are also private child-minders whose work is governed by an operating agreement between them and the local authority. The local authority subsidises the individual child and supervises the scheme.

In cases where parents work far away from their home, it might be desirable for them to have their children cared for in a daycare facility under another local authority. This is also possible.

DAYCARE CENTRES These are institutions such as crèches, nursery schools and age-integrated institutions. They cater for children from birth to school age. They can either be run by the local authority or by private individuals.

When a child is admitted to a daycare facility through local authority allocation, the local council subsidises the cost of the child’s place, and the parents make up the difference. There is also a sibling discount if more than one child in a household is in the same institution.

Independent daycare centres are owned and run by private individuals under the terms of an agreement with the local authority. They are subject to local authority supervision and receive subsidies from the local authority to cover its costs.

If parents want their child to attend an approved private daycare centre, they may be able to

Approved private daycare centres must be licensed by the local authority. However, the

centres themselves decide who to admit and children are not referred to them by the local authority. They also receive a local authority subsidy per child. In agreement with the local authority, daycare centres can be operated as outsourced daycare centres. These institutions must comply with the same requirements as the local authority daycare centres. EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS Since 2004, there has been a legal obligation for all daycare facilities to develop and implement an educational curriculum. There are two prongs – one for children up to 2 years old and one for children aged 3 up until they start school.

stimulating environment for the children in its care. This environment must be considered from a child’s perspective and the children’s own experiences of that environment taken into consideration. It’s up to the individual daycare facility to decide on its own approach. The leader of the facility is responsible for preparing and publishing the curriculum and for carrying out an annual evaluation. This includes documenting whether the approaches and activities chosen meet the objectives outlined within the themes. The curriculum must be approved by the local council, who are also responsible for monitoring its implementation.

The curriculum sets out the goals for the daycare facility regarding what the children should be learning. It also as describes the methods and activities used to attain these goals and includes a methodology for evaluating the curriculum. Six themes have been highlighted as follows:

International options Since 2017, two facilities in Copenhagen have been offering English-language daycare. The service is tailored towards expats living in the municipality who expect to move away from Denmark again within a few years. At least one of the parents must have a job in Denmark

1. The comprehensive personal development of the child 2. Social competencies 3. Language 4. Body and motion 5. Nature and natural phenomena 6. Cultural expressions and values

Børnebyen Vandværket, which is near Vesterport Station, offers nursery (0-3) to 12 children and kindergarten (3-6) care to 24. Idrætsinstitutionen Bavnehøj, which is the Sydvest district near Enghavevej, offers kindergarten care with a focus on physical education to 24 children.

The curriculum must also show how the daycare facility works to ensure a good and

And Hellerup also has two English-language facilities: Sunrise International Preschool and

Stepping Stone. Sunrise International Preschool on Norgesmindevej caters to children aged 2-6 at a location that is respectful to other people, animals and the environment. Stepping Stone on Ehlersvej has reopened following its renovation. Located in a charming manor house it offers a ‘home away from home’ to its young charges.




Let logic rule your decision

For expat couples an international school makes sense, but it can be a hard sell when your partner is Danish

By Stephen Gadd The international parents you meet are normally split into two groups: the lifers and the expats. The lifer, more often than not an individual, will normally opt for the Danish public school system for two reasons: affordability and respecting the wishes of their Danish partner. More than likely they moved to Denmark as a refugee of love and their income is average or lower than average. The result is children who are as Danish as full-blooded peers. The expats, more likely a couple, will normally opt for an international school for three reasons: again affordability (with the state subsidy, the schools are cheap compared to private options in other countries), networking and language/curriculum concerns given their children are likely to continue their schooling elsewhere. More than likely they moved to Denmark for work. The result is children with an experience under their belt and maybe a second language. Free and compulsory In Denmark, education is free unless you choose a private school or boarding school. It is also compulsory for everyone between the



ages of 6 and 16 or 17. Whether this occurs in a public school, private school or at home is a matter of individual choice, as long as pre-set standards are met. It is the education itself that is compulsory, not school. The law guarantees a free choice of public schools within the local authority area where you live. However, as in many other countries, some schools have a better reputation than others and can be full or have long waiting lists. PUBLIC SCHOOL The Danish Public School (Folkeskole) is a comprehensive school consisting of both primary and lower secondary classes. Primary school covers classes 1-6 and lower secondary classes 7-9, with an optional 10th class available in some cases. The folkeskole is unstreamed and the formation of classes is based on the child’s age and not in subject-specific proficiency. Classes usually consist of approximately 21 pupils. The number must not exceed 28, although under certain exceptional circumstances, a municipality can give a dispensation for a class of up to 30. The Folkeskole is governed by an Act of Parliament which lays down the foundations and objectives governing its activities. All municipal primary and lower secondary

schools share a common aim, standard requirements concerning the subjects taught at the specific form levels, standard regulations concerning the so-called Common Objectives for the teaching in the individual subjects, as well as standard regulations concerning the leadership and organisation of the school system. The Act also lays down clear rules for parent/ school co-operation, and parents are expected to take an active part in their children’s schooling. Schools are obliged to report on pupils’ progress at least twice per year. However, it is the responsibility of the individual municipal boards to determine how schools are to be organised within the legal framework. The boards can also set their own additional objectives for schools. This has the advantage that a child who changes schools will, on the whole, find the new routine similar to the one he or she has been accustomed to. PRIVATE SCHOOLS Denmark has a long tradition of private schools encompassing the idea of “a school for life based on the living word”. Unlike many other countries, Denmark subsidises private schools heavily. However, getting into one of the more prestigious ones can be difficult, as the waiting lists are often long.

Private schools in Denmark fall mainly into the following categories: 1. Small independent schools in rural districts (friskoler), 2. Large independent schools in urban districts (privatskoler), 3. Religious or Congregational schools, 4. Progressive free schools, 5. Schools with a particular educational aim, such as the Rudolf Steiner schools 6. German minority schools, 7. Immigrant schools. Private schools which have been approved receive government funding regardless of the ideological, religious, political or ethnic motivation behind their establishment. INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS This might be the ideal solution for a foreign national living in Denmark who wants an international education for his or her child. There are a number of them around, especially in the Copenhagen area. International basic schools are private elementary schools approved by the Ministry of Education and the teaching is in languages other than Danish – either for the whole school or for divisions within it. They often teach a curriculum which leads to an internationally recognised accreditation, such as the International Baccalaureate or the Cambridge education system.

MUNICIPAL INTERNATIONAL BASIC SCHOOLS From school year 2015/16, new legislation allowed municipalities to set up international basic schools. Municipal international basic schools admit children subject to compulsory education whose parents are foreigners residing temporarily in Denmark due to their employment and whose parents wish to have their children enrolled at the school. If there are unfilled places at a municipal international basic school, it may also admit Danish children and other foreign children who live or reside in Denmark, and whose parents wish to have them enrolled at the school. The local council may decide that the education provided at the municipal international basic school should be certified internationally. It is, however, a precondition that the education continues to be up to what is generally required in the Folkeskole.

A GLOBAL VIEW Young people at Copenhagen International School look through a window to the world. Literally, students are educated in the most fantastic surroundings with incredible views across the 0resund and of container ships that will deliver goods across the seas. Our students interact with over 80 nationalities in our community, developing intercultural understanding- the ability to appreciate perspectives of people with very different backgrounds. They follow an international curriculum in an international setting within a truly international community. As a result, students at CIS have a global view that helps them to become champions of a just and sustainable world.

Based on the local council’s decision, the language of instruction at a municipal international basic school is English, German or French. Further information about municipal international basic schools can be had from local school authorities in the municipality.

Copenhagen International School


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After or before: a year rarely regretted

Most students cite their year at efterskole as the highlight of their education

By Stephen Gadd Efterskoles are residential schools catering for pupils between the ages of 14 and 17, and at present there are around 250 of them spread across Denmark. They tend to have between 25 and 500 students. New ideas in education Historically, the efterskole springs from the theories of two of the greatest educators in Danish history : Christen Kold and NFS Gruntvig. The first one was founded in 1879 in Galtrup, Mors and, in the years that followed, several more opened in southern Jutland. Kold and Gruntvig both agreed that education should be geared to producing fully-rounded human beings and should not just be book learning by rote. Efterskoles today are self-governing independent institutions that provide for both the educational and personal development of their students. They adhere to the principles of providing a general education, life-long enlightenment and guidance on being a citizen in a democratic society.



CLOSE-KNIT AND FREE Efterskole teachers are responsible both for teaching and the supervision of their students outside school hours. Teachers and students are together all day: from the time the students wake up until they go to bed. This can foster close, personal and informal relationships between students and teachers. The schools have a high degree of freedom when it comes to the choice of subjects taught, teaching methods and educational approach. These vary in accordance with the school’s political, religious or pedagogical orientation. This freedom is assured via substantial state subsidies to both schools and students. Some efterskoles concentrate on specific areas such as sport or music. This can influence the way the curriculum is put together, but it must not be at the expense of the teaching having a broad base and always measuring up to that offered by the folkeskole. Courses should be open to everyone – regardless of gender or previous educational experience. SQUARE PEGS AND ROUND HOLES If you are a teenager or a parent of teenage children, then the efterskole system is certainly worth considering. Not everyone is able to thrive in the mainstream educational

system, and an efterskole can turn out to be the road to greater self-confidence, maturity and independence. By its very nature, a boarding school brings disparate individuals much closer together, and so fosters elements of solidarity and communal responsibility. This can also lead to closer friendships than those made at traditional day-schools. There are other educational benefits to be gained from a period at efterskole. A Danmarks Statistik survey conducted from 2010 to 2014 showed that pupils who had taken their 10th class at efterskole were academically more advanced than average. They also ended up taking fewer breaks during their further education than pupils from other school systems – regardless of grade averages. So all the more reason to read on and perhaps make a choice that will change your life. HOW DOES AN EFTERSKOLE WORK? Advocates of the Danish efterskole will tell you that a year spent at an efterskole is like several spent in a more formal Danish educational institution. When you attend an efterskole, you spend

nearly all your time on the school premises. The school becomes your new home, albeit a temporary one and, like a normal home, things happen from early morning until late at night. As well as ordinary school classes, there are lots of other activities taking place, both during and outside school hours, such as sports, cooking, games, music and drama, which all contribute to establishing a fellowship between the students at the school and the teachers. Geared to internationals Most efterskoles are open to foreign students, so if you’ve just moved to Denmark and are looking for an education in English for your child, an efterskole might well be the answer. A number of them offer an international curriculum based on the Cambridge International Examination (CIE). They also offer foreign students a ‘host family’ – a Danish family that offers the student hospitality and can act as a ‘reserve family’ when the school is not open, like during the holidays and on selected weekends.

DEVELOPING CHARACTER At Skt. Josef ’s International School, we strive to have happy, knowledgable children skilled with the right character so that each child learns how to learn. Skt. Josef ’s, located just 25 minutes from Copenhagen Central Station in historic Roskilde, provides quality international education for children aged 5 to 16 (Year 1 to Year 11).

Skt. Josef ’s School

Frederiksborgvej 10, Roskilde

+45 4635 2526


Further education vs ... Making a decision to follow the crowd to gymnasium, or plunge into a career so early, can come back to haunt you

By Stephen Gadd It’s never too late to get an education is the sort of adage you might expect somebody like Benjamin Franklin to have said, but no, it was nobody famous. Nevertheless, is it true? Theoretically, of course it is, but sometimes reality bites. Sometimes, to get an education we need an education. It’s not fanciful to imagine that we might have opted to leave school at 16 to take an apprenticeship, and then, by the time we’re 30 and eyeing a degree to further our career, we realise we need the equivalent of a high school diploma to qualify. This is why the decision we take when we finish elementary schooling at the age of 1517 is probably the most important one we will ever take on our educational journey. Upper secondary education Upper secondary education typically starts at the end of full-time compulsory education and caters for students aged 16-19. Unless a private school is chosen, it is free of charge. At present there are 18 international uppersecondary schools in Denmark offering the International Baccalaureate (IB). A prerequisite is that the international course offered must be able to provide access to higher education in Denmark. Stepping stone to higher education Students can take several different routes at this level and there are four academicallyorientated programs available (see factbox). These four programs prepare young people for higher education and ensure that they acquire a general education, knowledge and competences by means of the subjects they study and through the interaction between them. The choice ahead The STX and HF programs consist of a broad range of subjects in the humanities, natural science and social sciences, whereas the HHX program focuses on business and socioeconomic disciplines, in combination with foreign languages and other general subjects. The HTX program is focused on technological



and scientific subjects, in combination with general subjects. Each of the programs has a range of compulsory subjects. Additionally, in STX, HHX and HTX, each school offers a number of specialised studies packages normally containing three subjects and offers elective subjects for students to choose between. In HF, students choose from among the elective subjects offered by the individual school. All the programs contain multi-subject courses which serve to strengthen students’ preparedness for further study. Admission criteria To be admitted to one of the three-year upper secondary education programs (STX, HHX, HTX), students must have completed nine years of Danish basic education or have received corresponding teaching and have taken the primary and lower secondary school compulsory final examination. For HF, a student must have completed ten years of Danish basic education and have taken examinations in Danish, English, mathematics, a second foreign language (French or German) and physics/chemistry. If for some reason a student has not taken the required examinations for admission to STX/

HHX/HTX or HF, an admission test can also be taken. Students who have not attended a Danish school can be admitted following a concrete assessment as to whether their qualifications correspond to those required by students who have attended a Danish school. They may also be required to take an admission test. Student involvement The needs and wishes of the students are taken very seriously and they have the right to form a student council and are also represented on the school board. The school must also ensure that students are involved in the planning of class teaching. Schools are obliged to provide academic guidance and guidance on higher education and careers. CHOICE OF FOUR The 3-year Upper Secondary School Leaving Examination (STX) The 3-year Higher Commercial Examination (HHX) The 3-year Higher Technical Examination (HTX) The 2-year Higher Preparatory Examination (HF)

... True vocation

Vocational education and training programs (VET) are alternating or sandwich-type programs where practical training in a company alternates with teaching at a vocational college.

types of vocational educations. For example, you can become a carpenter, hairdresser, gardener, electrician or a member of several other skilled professions that are in demand in the labour market.

The idea is to motivate young people to complete a training program qualifying them for employment and at the same time accommodate the needs of the labour market.

The VET consists of a basic program ending with an examination followed by a main program. The basic program is a schoolbased course, whilst the main program is built upon the dual principle, where students alternate between school and apprenticeship.

Anyone completing VET is immediately eligible to work within the field that the program has focused on. The target group here is not only students coming directly from school but also adults with prior vocational experience. The colleges A number of institutions and colleges offer basic vocationally-orientated education programs. As well as the basic vocational education and training programs, the colleges also offer other programs such as HHX, and HTX, as well as further education and training for adults. Courses and programs commissioned by companies are also available in many colleges. Education and training programs with a small intake are conducted at trade schools, which cover a whole region. These schools have boarding facilities for students. Admission to vocational education The vocational education and training system (VET system) offers more than 100 different

All VET programs, of which there are four main subject areas (see factbox) give graduates access to further education and training. In the VET system one level of qualification provides access to the next. All VET programs also provide full or conditional access to higher education programs and further adult education programs at EQF level 5 and level EQF 6. Hope for the over-25s The Danish VET system offers a program called EUX, which combines a general uppersecondary education with vocational education and training. This qualifies students for a job as well as giving them direct access to higher education in a wide range of programs – i.e. leading to a journeyman’s certificate as well as the general upper secondary diploma. People over the age of 25 have access to VET programs designed especially for adults on

the basis of recognition of prior learning and relevant work experience, which leads to the same vocational qualifications. Admission requirements Admission to VET usually requires completion of compulsory education and a school-leaving certificate obtaining the minimum grade 2.0 in Danish and mathematics or the student starts with on-the-job training in a business enterprise if they have signed a training agreement with that enterprise. People with non-Danish qualifications can also be admitted to the VET-program on the basis of a non-Danish qualification comparable to the lower secondary (folkeskole) leaving certificate. Before entering VET the student is required to document an exam grade average equivalent to 2.0 or higher in the mathematics and the language of instruction or Danish (in cases where Danish was taught as a first language). It is up to the vocational college to decide whether the applicant fulfils the entry requirements. CHOICE OF FOUR VET programs: four main subject areas 1. Care, health and pedagogy 2. Administration, commerce and business service 3. Food, agriculture and hospitality 4. Technology, construction and transportation


Master your future – Higher education in Denmark By Edward Owen

It’s no secret that higher education is neither cheap nor free in many parts of the world. And within the European Union, it’s a mixed bag of free and paid-for education. Denmark offers not only free education to EU citizens, but also has an excellent range of choice with programs taught in English – especially at master’s level. Non-EU citizens are required to pay tuition, and the amount varies greatly depending on the institution and the program of study. However, there is still a good chance to make significant savings in comparison to studying somewhere like the UK, where prices start at 80,000 kroner per year. In comparison, programs can be found in Denmark for approximately half the amount. With more than 22,000 international students in Denmark, you certainly won’t be alone. Our step-by-step guide to higher education in Denmark is an introduction to all of the things you need to consider to really know your options. CHOOSING A SCHOOL Key point: Some universities specialise in specific fields whilst others offer a variety of programs. First things first, you need to find a course and a university that is right for you. Nationally there are eight universities. Within the Copenhagen area alone you will find six of these institutions within a reasonable commuting distance, although it is also not unheard of for Copenhagen-based students to travel to SDU in Odense. Whilst all of the major universities offer postgraduate programs taught in English, the same option for undergraduate programs could sometimes be described as limited. If you are starting with an undergraduate program, see the factbox for a brief description of each school. THINK AHEAD Key point: Check the program’s content against the job market If you plan to stay in Denmark or not, you should investigate how you will be able to apply your studies once you have graduated. Do this before enrolling. The most important thing at this point is not only to think about what you would ‘like’ to do, but also to understand the potential job market. The Danish job market is competitive and rather keen on overt compatibility between your studies, experience and the role you may be applying for.



Furthermore, even programs taught in English can be tailored to the Danish job market. As such, you need to be aware of your trajectory before you embark on a program. In Denmark, if you have gone to university, it is the norm to study through to master’s level. This is often referred to as a ‘long education’. THE APPLICATION PROCESS Key point: Don’t wait until the last minute to apply. Most universities will direct your application to the same online portal: ‘STADS’. This is operated by the Ministry of Education, not the universities. You should register and obtain a log-in as soon as possible. Via STADS you will select the university and study program from a list to create a new application. You can make more than one application during each intake. The specific documents required for an application will vary depending on the school and program requirements. STADS is not the most user friendly platform – allow yourself plenty of time when setting up a new application. Furthermore, do not leave it until the last minute to send an application – deadline days are notorious for online queuing and portal failure. In fact, for September admissions, try to apply by March. For schools that operate a second February, intake will often expect applications by mid-October. Once you are enrolled and are studying, you will continue to use STADS to view grades, apply for exams and carry out any other administration.

FINDING ACCOMMODATION Key points: Start searching early and don’t be put off by short-term agreements. Also find a property where your CPR number can be registered (i.e get a contract). Unfortunately, this can be one of the most difficult aspects of attending university in Denmark – especially for international students. Copenhagen is the most competitive – no surprise given the concentration of schools. Your first port of call should always be your university to see if they have any specific recommendations – like exclusive access to student dorms or ‘kollegier’. There are many online portals for accommodation. These usually offer access to adverts and listings for a small fee, but be sure to read exactly what you’re signing up for. You should also join every relevant group you can find on social media. There is a high degree of turnover with short-term lets. These may not seem ideal, but can be a good option to get started. As you meet more people at university, a good social network often leads to more opportunities. Deposits can be quite expensive with landlords asking for up to three months in rent. Beware of scams. Use common sense and avoid paying deposits in cash or via services where the transaction cannot be reversed, like Western Union. Be vigilant when making enquiries from overseas. Look for a property to which you can register your CPR number (social security). If you want to check who owns a property, go to boligejer. dk.

GETTING A CPR NUMBER Key point: You cannot work or open a bank account without a CPR number. The Central Person Register (CPR) is the Danish equivalent of a social security or national insurance number. To get one, you will need proof of your enrollment, accommodation (contract/ agreement) and registration certificate/residence permit. Whilst EU/EEA or Nordic citizens are not legally required to have one for a stay of up to three months, the CPR is absolutely crucial to life in Denmark as it enables you to work and open a bank account (check FINANCIAL SUPPORT Key point: International EU students should look for parttime work in order to receive financial support. Some foreign citizens may be entitled to State Education Support (SU) when studying. There are a number of different ways that you may qualify, and these generally fall under two categories: Equal status according to Danish rules and Equal status according to EU law. The typical stipulation to be aware of as an EU student is the ongoing requirement that you must be working part-time, 10-12 hours per week, and at least 43 hours per month. Universities usually have an SU office that can help you. Visit to find out more. TEACHING STYLE Key point: Don’t expect to just sit in class and listen. Each university will have a particular ethos, but generally speaking you can expect a significant amount of group work and participation in class. The onus will be on you as individuals and as a class to really engage. Whether studying at undergraduate or postgraduate level, students are usually encouraged to take charge of the direction of projects and to use the teacher as a consultant in a collaborative learning process. It may depend on the subject you study, and class sizes, but generally speaking you

should expect to make regular contributions in class.


EXAM FORMAT Key point: The ‘defence’ style exam is alien to many internationals. Don’t be shy, speak up and practise beforehand.

Copenhagen University (KU) • Specialty/focus: Offers a variety of programs in different subject areas • Undergraduate: All bachelors are taught in Danish • Postgraduate: A wide range of master’s programs are avail able in English

All kinds of exams are in use: formal presentations, random question and answer, take-home essays, semester-long group projects and so on. Traditional timed exams are less common. The most likely candidate to catch you off-guard, is the ‘defence’ style exam. This is normally used as a way of confirming grades for semesterlong group projects or a thesis. Despite handing in a written report as a group, you will also make a presentation in which each individual contributes, and then face extensive questioning as a group. These exams can last for several hours. It is customary for students to bring refreshments such as drinks and snacks, but do not be fooled by the laid-back vibe. This is an exam like no other and your performance as an individual will affect your grade (from at the top score of 12 to 10, 7, 4, 02, 00, and finally -3). Raise your hand, speak up and know your project inside out. . STAYING IN DENMARK? Key point: If you plan on staying in Denmark you need to join an a-kasse and a union. Join an a-kasse while you are still a student. If you do not have a job immediately after graduation, you can receive financial support whilst you apply for positions. Also, join a professional union while you are still a student. These are very common in Denmark and your background will dictate which one you should join. Your union can help negotiate terms of employment and advise you on matters such as salary. As a student, you will receive a discounted rate of membership for both of these things. They can offer many services to help during your career. Good luck!

Copenhagen Business School (CBS) • Specialty/focus: Takes an international perspective on a broad range of subjects with a business focus • Undergraduate: Many taught in English • Postgraduate: Mostly taught in English

Technical University of Denmark (DTU) • Specialty/focus: Technical and natural sciences. • Undergraduate: Offers a small number of bachelor programs with only one taught in English. • Postgraduate: Master’s level programs are taught exclusively in English. Aalborg University – Copenhagen (AAU – CPH) • Speciality/focus: Offers a variety of programs in different subject areas • Undergraduate: Over 70 bachelors but just a handful taught in English • Postgraduate: Approximately 200 variants are available with more than half taught in English. IT University (ITU) • Specialty/focus: Information technology and the digital world • Undergraduate: Offers four programs. Two of these are taught in Danish, while the other two require ‘academic’ Danish language skills (see university webpage for definition) • Postgraduate: Five programs available – all but one are taught exclusively in English. Roskilde (RUC) • Specialty/focus: Offers a variety of programs within humani ties, humanistic technologies, social science and science • Undergraduate: A good number available taught in English • Postgraduate: A good number available taught in English University of Southern Denmark (SDU) • Specialty/focus: Offers a variety of programs in different subject areas • Undergraduate: A good number available taught in English (mostly engineering, business, social sciences) • Postgraduate: A wide range of master’s programs are avail able in English Aarhus University (AU) • Specialty/focus: Offers a variety of programs in different subject areas • Undergraduate: Just a handful of bachelors taught in English • Postgraduate: A wide range of master’s programs are avail able in English Aalborg University (AAU) • As above – primary Aalborg campus


For the attention of night owls

From hobby clubs to language classes, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to after-hours learning

Adult learning can provide a fast track into Danish society. And of course it also provides the chance to learn something.

By Ester Rose

Specialising in sports If you are looking for some type of sports activity, there is genuinely something for everyone, from yoga to bouldering, kayaking, running and so much more.

So, you’ve finished higher education and, just like poor old Alexander of Macedonia, there are no more worlds to conquer. Don’t cry salt tears … as there’s an army of adult learning options at your disposal. Besides, if you are just landing in Copenhagen, you’re probably looking for fun things to do and ways to get to know people in your new city. Whether it is to improve your work skills, get in shape, make local friends, or just avoid sitting home alone all weekend, joining some type of adult learning activity could be just the thing. Don’t forget that networking is important in Denmark. Whether it’s getting a job or a flat, very often, the Danish decision maker will chose someone from their social circle. 16 EDUCATION GUIDE AUT UM N 2 01 9

Yoga has become increasingly popular in recent years with places popping up everywhere. We recommend the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School ( Kayaking is a great sport for newbies to Copenhagen, as with all the waterways, it’s undoubtedly a great way to see the city. Try! For some truly hardcore, Nordic-style whipping into shape, you can train with the Nordic Race Team to take on an intense 5 km obstacle course. Find out more at Among the alternative sports out at Reffen, try out some bouldering with

Dedicated to dance If dancing is your thing, there are many options in the Copenhagen area. Here are a couple ideas and spots to get you started. An all-time favourite is of course salsa. One school that offers instruction in English is where you can take classes several days a week. is a good site to find out about options for couples – particularly in ballroom and salsa. For kids, meanwhile, offers quite a variety of classes. You can also find swing dance at happyfeetstudio. dk or street dance at And for pro dancers look no further than at Walk down sustenance street There are mixed feelings about the local Danish food. Of course, like everywhere, some dishes are an acquired taste. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give all the signature Nordic foods a try. If you are up for a walking food tour, opt for

Parenting: more than a pastime With increasing numbers of parents seeking to hone their mum and dad skills, phabsalon. dk provides courses on early learning, child development, creativity and more. For parents dealing with the big adjustments of getting started in a whole new environment and country, offers support and consultation. Of course it all starts with a pregnancy and a whole swoop of new, weird and exciting firsts that it brings. For general info, jordemoderhuset. com gives classes in both Danish and English, as does And as expecting mums w h o Relax, walk around the capital and let the company introduce you to some hidden gem culinary experiences. Or go on a food crawl, from one eatery to another on a bike ( culinary-bike-tour) for a true Copenhagen experience. Inspire your intellect Copenhagen’s universities are the top spots for workshops, lectures and debates. Check out and for their schedules. For more casual affairs try folkehusetabsalon. cph and, while is a good resource for culture spots in Copenhagen.

of hobbies as well as a questionnaire if you are looking to try something new and don’t quite know what will fit you best. While is also regularly updated with options. Qualify with quality To improve your professional skills, Copenhagen’s universities, and, provide night school for adults. While is an international organisation focused on adult learning. Danish regulations on higher education are quite specific. If you are missing some earlier education, FVU, AVU, HF and AMU are aimed at those who have not completed an elementary or high school level education. Learning a new lingo Want to learn a new language? Studieskolen. dk teaches 25 different languages, while

want to stay in shape, and can take you safely through your workout. Hi-yo hobby horse! It would be impossible to list all the hobbies here, but here are a couple of ideas so that you can carry on with your favourite leisure activity. Cooking is definitely trending at the moment, and provides classes, lectures and masterclasses. Are you a musician? You can find one-on-one tuition on just about every instrument with just a simple search on provides a long list also provides both group, private and online language tuition. While the largest range of languages available was found at FOF: Arabic, English, Finish, French, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Latin, Old Greek, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Swahili, Thai, Turkish, German and Vietnamese. EDUCATION GUIDE AUTUMN 2 019



Education ceiling dominates pre-election concerns over studies Konservative the most outspoken party on an issue that saw blue bloc parties exchange blows

By Edward Owen Ahead of the general election on June 5, education was a relatively low-key issue. It’s probably safe to say that it didn’t swing many voters one way or the other. But that didn’t mean to say there were some pretty strong opinions floating around, even though most of the discord was among the blue bloc parties, with Konservative under fire from its allies over its position on the education ceiling. Punishment ceiling Since its introduction in 2016, the Uddannelsesloft education ceiling has become an increasingly unpopular aspect of public savings. It essentially threatens to punish those who later regret their choice of study (e.g bachelor’s degree) by not allowing for further state-funded education at the same or lower level. There are professional and vocational exemptions, and a six-year limit to the rule. However, it now looks as though the charges have been set in all corners of the room. Red Bloc consensus Together, the red bloc all agree on free and equal access to education, as well as removing the ceiling. Socialdemokratiet wants to encourage variety, thus allowing people to pursue the path they wish. This means the focus does not have to be the classic long academic education, and that vocational training should be well-funded. This sentiment is echoed by SF, which is also keen on additional funding for


vocational training. Whilst the educational journey should not be prescribed the same way for everybody, there should be stronger collaborations between universities and employers. SF wants to promote academic content that transfers into the world of work. Alternativet appears to have a strong focus on the needs of different students, advocating a principle that learning at any level should begin and end with the individual. This is supported by a nine-point policy on schools, which includes a greater focus on sustainability – more creativity with less focus on grades and tests. Radikale would not only like to abolish the education ceiling, but also remove limits on international


study places. This is part of an ambition to see an education system that is both outward-looking and inviting in order to promote an international study environment. Radikale also acknowledges Denmark’s spatial development issues with an ambition to create more study places outside the major cities. Like many of the red bloc, Enhedslisten wants to ensure the SU financial student support is a proper amount that students can live on. Education should be flexible, allowing for study regardless of learning speed and age. Research should be free from business interests. Blue Bloc discord The VLAK government may have introduced the education ceiling, but only Konservative was firm that

the ceiling must remain. Shots were accordingly fired when its leader Søren Pape Poulsen questioned the credibility of his allies’ sudden change in attitude. Poulsen suggested it was untrustworthy to flip-flop on the issue so close to an election. Regarding general approaches to teaching, the party said it believed in retaining grade systems and shorter school days. Liberal Alliance wanted to not only abolish the education ceiling, but to also uncap how much students may earn alongside SU. This fell in line with its general philosophy of keeping money in people’s pockets for a strong economy. Tommy Ahlers of Venstre also joined the retreat, but cautioned that removing

the ceiling would need an extra 300 million kroner from the budget. The party said it would also like to maintain the coupling percentage for free schools – i.e 76 percent subsidy per student. Dansk Folkeparti placed equal importance on manual and intellectual labour, along with a free choice between state and private schools. Furthermore, it advocated that the publication of grades can incentivise schools to be better. In similar fashion, Nye Borgerlige had only one stipulation in its otherwise hands-off approach: publiclyfunded schools should be based on Danish values and democracy. Overall, it would seem peer pressure isn’t restricted to school!

NEWS FEWER UNI APPLICANTS A total of 88,574 higher education applications were made by July 5 – one percent down on last year. Humanities (down 14 percent) and nursing and education programs (down 7) saw the biggest falls, while computer science (4) was again among the winners.

UNEDUCATED TEACHER RISE The number of uneducated teachers at Denmark’s elementary schools has doubled since 1997, according to a study conducted by the think-tank Kraka and the financial consultancy Deloitte. Most of them don’t have a higher education or a bachelor’s degree. The schools are increasingly using teacher substitutes as a result.

CONTINUING TO DECLINE Only 200,000 people were enrolled on AMU continuing education courses this year, according to Education Ministry figures – a decrease of 50 percent on 2009, when 457,000 took courses. Unskilled employees are increasingly not taking the courses, according to Søren Heisel, the federal secretary at 3F.

BOOST FOR REFUGEES The immigration and integration minister Mattias Tesfaye has announced that he wants to provide all refugees with access to free higher education. The move would effectively open up the option to 4,700 refugees, who are mostly from war-torn Syria.

CIS DEPARTURES Sandy Mackenzie, the former head of Atlanta International School, has been confirmed as the new director of Copenhagen International School, replacing Jennifer Weyburn, who has taken up a similar position in Brooklyn, New York. Meanwhile, Thomas Nielsen, the director of communications & advancement, has retired.

UP TO THE CHALLENGE The Franco-Danish School in Nordvest, Copenhagen has won the Ultimate Arduino Challenge – a globally renowned competition for professional engineers. The school triumphed with its ‘Dark Side Rover V0.1’, a semi-autonomous robot concept aimed at engaging children of all ages in STEM, from kindergarten to high school and beyond.

STUDIES BEFORE JOBS Students are increasingly shunning part-time jobs to shine in their studies. The poorest 20 percent of Danes in their 20s are only making 6,026 kroner a month after tax – fully 1,061 kroner less than in 2018. In related news, many teens are allowing criminals to use their bank accounts to launder money, claims Copenhagen Police.

SUCCESS FOR NIS North Zealand International School (NIS) has become the only International Primary Curriculum (IPC) accredited school in Denmark – and just the 28th in the world. The accreditation signifies that the Hørsolmbased school excels in five key areas of student learning and development, and it includes teaching practices that imbibe a strong sense of international mindedness amongst them.

AUTISTIC KIDS SHUN SCHOOL More than a third of autistic kids in Denmark aren’t going to school, according to Autism Denmark. Of the 35 percent not attending, some have been absent for five years. Autism Denmark blames the country’s 2012 Inclusion Law for transferring kids with special needs to general public schools as part of a goal to educate 96 percent of all students in regular classrooms by 2015.

UNIS ON THE CHARGE Three Danish universities have improved their standing in the newly-released QS World University Rankings 2020, released by UK-based education analysts Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). They are the University of Copenhagen (up seven spots to 72nd), Aalborg University (up 19 places to 324th) and the University of Southern Denmark (up four places to 373rd).

A focus on learning

I nternational S  chool for s tudents ages 3–16 Phone: +45 45 57 26 16 Email: Cirkelhuset, Christianshusvej 16 DK, 2970 Hørsholm

Cambridge International School



OPINION As an author and cultural researcher, I have spent a lot of time in Danish schools studying parenting and education for my books. I’ve especially focused on the ‘Class’s Hour’ (klassenstime), which is a core part of the Danish curriculum that essentially teaches empathy to children aged 6-16 and is generally set for a special time once a week. Time to be heard The purpose of the klassenstime is for all the students to come together in a comfortable setting to talk about any problems they may be having. Together, the class tries to find a solution. This could be an issue between two students or a group, or even something unrelated to school. “The important thing is that everyone feels heard,” explains Jesper Vang, a middle school teacher at Tingkærskolen in Odense. “Our job as the teacher is to make sure the children understand how and why other people feel the way they do. This way, we come up with a solution together based on real

listening and real understanding.” If there are no problems to be discussed, then they simply come together to relax and hygge – the now famous Danish word for cosying around together. Buckets and buttons But what if putting yourself in other people’s shoes isn’t the solution, and you really just need to put something behind you? Some classes are encouraged to write down any problems that are bothering them, fold them or crumple them up, and throw them in a ‘pyt spand’ – a never mind bucket. It was only after I learned about the word ‘pyt’ and the never mind bucket that I started noticing small wooden squares on the walls of many classrooms with blue metal buttons and the word ‘pyt’ written above them. “What is that?” I asked a teacher inquisitively one day. “That’s a pyt button,” came the reply. “Is that like the never mind bucket?” I asked. She laughed. “Yes, it’s a similar concept. When kids are

annoyed about something, we encourage them to hit the pyt button and let it go.” Trash bin for troubles I even saw it in the playgrounds. Kids would get upset at a perceived injustice, but as voices were rising and rules hotly debated, a teacher would magically materialise a blue or red button and, like contestants on a game show, the kids would run up and smack the pyt button, before continuing the game seemingly scuffle-free. As I was leaving a class one day with a small grievance of my own, I decided to hit the pyt button myself, and I really did feel a little better. We don’t have a word for ‘pyt’ in English, but I think there is something comforting about physically pushing away our troubles or, literally, throwing them away. This doesn’t work for everything of course. It isn’t for life-altering traumas or serious issues. But when you can’t seem to put a small unchangeable problem behind you, try putting it in a ‘pyt’ bucket. You might just find it helps.

JESSICA ALEXANDER Jessica is a bestselling US author, Danish parenting expert, columnist, speaker, and cultural researcher. Her work has been featured in TIME, Huffington Post, The Atlantic and The NY Times, among others. She graduated with a BS in psychology and speaks four languages. She currently lives in Italy with her Danish husband and two children. Follow her on Instagram

Denmark’s most effective Danish courses!

OPINION By Thomas Mulhern

Indisputably an asset Over 40 years of research has documented that bilingual education is a gift: from improving memory function and intercultural skills, to heightening meta-linguistic awareness. Systematic evaluations of bilingual education worldwide have shown that students attain the same levels of proficiency in reading and writing as students in monolingual (Danish or English only) programs – while developing the same appreciation and understanding of the host culture as students in monolingual programs.

THOMAS MULHERN Thomas Knudsen Mulhern, the managing director of Globally Local ( and former head of the International Department at Institut Sankt Joseph, is a passionate advocate of bilingual education in Denmark. In addition, Thomas co-hosts the Global Denmark Podcast (globaldkpodcast. com) I recently gave a keynote speech at the annual gathering of bilingual schools in the Netherlands. This network, headed by the organisation Nuffic, represents over 150 bilingual schools and 30,000 pupils participating in bilingual education nationwide. For comparison’s sake, Denmark has two bilingual departments attended by under 500 students nationwide. Toxic vs treasured While giving my speech, I highlighted how bilingual education in the Netherlands literally translates as ‘tweetalig onderwijs’, but how in Denmark it is a non-starter translating bilingual education in a similar fashion as ‘tosproget uddannelse’ – due to the toxicity of the word ‘tosproget’ in Danish culture. When I said this, the room of a couple of hundred Dutch education leaders went silent in disbelief. At first, the silence surprised me as I have grown so accustomed to the negative connotations surrounding this word in Denmark. However, upon realising I had merely taken a one-hour flight and entered a terrain where bilingual (tosproget) education is seen as a gift and key tenant of the educational sector, the absurdity stuck me as well.

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In short: education using multiple languages is not a zero-sum proposition! Word first, then the world Denmark, to this day, has never regarded bilingual education as a viable alternative to a standard monolingual education. But what is so substantially different between Denmark and the Netherlands that this framework could not work here? When will Denmark catch up and finally launch a national bilingual education movement, just as the Dutch and other countries have done so successfully? I submit that there is nothing so fundamentally different between the Danish and Dutch cultures as to why this cannot work in Denmark, and I truly hope the time is now for all stakeholders to jettison the false dichotomy and begin to look at bilingual education as an opportunity and not a threat. It is time to bury the toxicity of the word ‘tosproget’ and see it for the first time as a positive word: a word full of promise. By winning the battle over this word, Denmark can transform the education sector and better position itself to win the battle for global talent, thus safeguarding the future of the Danish economy.

WaldorfSteinerskole International Byens School Copenhagen

Waldorf International School Copenhagen WISC distinguishes itself through the integration of cognitive and artistic eductation. Our balanced educational approach adresses learning that occurs with the head, heart and hands. For this school year (2019-2020), we accept children ages six to eight. The upcoming school year (2020-2021) we are open for children up to nine years. Our nursery school and kindergarten is open for children ages two to six. There are 1.200 Waldorf schools in 64 countries. Each Waldorf school is unique, but the curriculum are universal.

STUDENT INTERVIEWS Paul McNamara is a 35-year-old Irishman from County Wicklow who came to Denmark in 2015 to study at the University of Southern Denmark. CPH POST asked him about the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad. How did you end up at university in Denmark? I took a bachelor’s in psychology at UCD in Dublin, but then realised I had absolutely no inclination to work within that field, so I went travelling for some time. A few years later I took a teaching qualification, but again went travelling, eventually settling in Copenhagen, where I decided to do a master’s. Why did you choose comparative public policy and welfare? Denmark’s welfare state is known for being one of the best in the world, and with immigration always being a big topic here, that subject really stood out for me as a topic of interest. Is there a difference between the way things are taught in Denmark and the way they are taught in Ireland at university level? Absolutely! For example, group work was something I was really not used to. Additionally, I’d got through four years of my bachelor without making a presentation. Karla Hamilton, 15, is a current student at Gasværksvejens skole in Vesterbro, Copenhagen. Following the completion of her elementary learning next year, she will attend Efterskolen Smededal, an establishment in northwest Zealand, for a year starting from September 2020. Why have you decided to go to efterskole? Because I want to try something new, and it sounded really fun to live with friends for a whole year. I also think you will grow a lot as a person in that year. Can you tell us about the efterskole you’ve decided to go to? What made you choose it? I’ve chosen Efterskolen Smededal, because when I visited it, it had a really ‘hyggelig’ vibe, and I just had that feeling that this was the one. It is also only one hour away [from Copenhagen] on the train


And presentations are definitely something important at Danish universities. I think this is fantastic ... but I still really hate them, and am terrible at giving them! Additionally, the style and level of formality between the students and professors was very relaxed. This made them much more approachable and I never felt awkward contacting them for help. Were you able to get a student grant to study in Denmark and, if so, was it from the Danish or Irish government? I received SU, which I supplemented by working in a bar. There’s absolutely no way I would have been able to do this in Ireland without taking a big loan. And that’s something I will be eternally grateful for to Denmark for. Was your course in English or Danish? English – it was very much so an international class, with perhaps only five of the students being Danish.

ideas and sense of humour. It also creates a very dynamic atmosphere for classroom debates because everyone wants to bring something from their country to the table, or to learn from someone else’s perspective.

Is there a special atmosphere when classes are comprised of mixed nationalities? Yes, terrific. It’s fascinating to see how different nationalities come together in group projects – each with their own big personality,

What would you say is the main benefit of studying abroad – and are there any downsides? It’s always good to challenge yourself, and getting out of your comfort zone is the best way to do it; if only to get different

Academically, what are your expectations? Do you think it will better prepare you for gymnasium? Yes, because I think it’s good to have a year before gymnasium where you can relax a little Are you excited by the prospect of boarding for a year? Do you expect to have fun? Does Harry Potter have a broomstick? Yes, of course. What percentage of your peer group at school are going to efterskole? I would say around 50 percent Have any been negative about efterskole – what did they say? Yes, I have heard about people who didn’t have the best experience, because the teachers were to tough, or maybe they just couldn’t find friends, or maybe efterskole just wasn’t their thing


perspectives on things one can become short sighted or blind to. Finally, what would your advice be to anyone who is hesitant to make the jump to study abroad? You have nothing to be afraid of. New friends, new challenges, new opportunities ... you’re really only here to make memories, so go and do it. I even did it at a relatively advanced age, but you’re never too old to make a change or take a chance.

Danish is not a piece of cake

Language learning made yummy Learning a new language can be quite a mouthful. But don’t lose your appetite just yet. When it comes to language teaching, Studieskolen is the crème de la crème. We know how to serve it. Enjoy our full assortment of classes at Check out what’s cooking at Studieskolen




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