Applying for a school in Sweden can seem like a monumental task. Should you opt for a state-run school or a private school? Do you want a Swedish school or a bilingual one? What teaching style do you favour – the Swedish system (regulated by Skolverket), Montessori, Waldorf, International Baccalaureate? Are you willing to travel or would you like a school close to home? These are among the questions that Jill has pondered in an article on Little Bear Abroad.

But once you have chosen your top picks, just how do you go about actually applying?

The most important thing to bear in mind is that you apply to all kommune-run schools via the kommune itself, that some private schools operate their own application systems and that others use the kommune’s application system. Confused yet?

Applying to private schools

The best way to find out which system your chosen schools use is to visit their website. Here there will be an option called something like “Antagning” or “Anmälning”. This page should tell you the criteria for applying. On the whole, you can apply to a private school from any point after your child has been born and has received a personnummer. And for some schools – I’m looking at you, Franska Skolan in Stockholm – you’ll need to apply the very same day that your child’s personnummer is confirmed!

You’ll need to fill in the application form, stating your child’s name, personnummer, address and which year they will be starting in förskoleklass (August in the year in which they turn six). Then you just need to wait until the spring of that year to hear if you have a place.

Applying to kommune schools

State-run schools, on the other hand, have a very strict application procedure. You can only apply in a particular time period (mid-January to mid-February in Stockholm, mid-November to mid-January in Gothenburg and during January in Malmö) in the year that your child is due to start förskoleklass. Check your local kommune’s website for the exact dates. If you have to do it in Swedish, search for “Grundskolor” and use Google Translate or a similar tool to help you.

Here you should also find a host of information on all the state-run schools in your kommune, so you can read up about them. Typically the information provided about them is the number of pupils, the number of staff, number of pupils per teacher, which grade the school goes up to, some results from the previous year’s satisfaction survey sent out to parents, etc.

Once the application period opens, you can use the “e-tjänster” on the kommune’s website to apply. After logging in using your e-legitimation (Bank ID, Mobile Bank-ID etc), you’ll be able to choose your three schools to apply to for your child. If you are interested in applying to a private school that uses the kommune system, you can  select that school as one of your three choices.

You are able to make changes to your application until the last day of the application period. After that, your application is submitted and unable to be amended.

Getting a place at a school

You’ll be contacted by email/post or can log in to the kommune e-tjänster system once the school places have been assigned. In Stockholm this is on 15 March, while in Malmö you’ll receive notification by post in early April. Other kommune may have different dates for when you are informed, so look at their website to find out.

Remember that you might not get a place for your child at any of the three schools that you have selected through the kommune’s system. If this is the case, contact your kommune to ask them what to do next. You should be able to join a queue for your chosen school(s) in case a place becomes available. The kommune will be able to help you with this.

Regardless, you’ll have a fixed period (typically a couple of weeks) during which you need to accept the place at the school you’ve been given. You can always give this up later if you do end up getting a last-minute place at a school of your choice. This sometimes happens in the following weeks because the private schools tend to inform you a few weeks after the state-run schools. So, there might be some changes and juggling in the late spring.

And don’t worry because you can even get a place at a school at the very last minute. We lucked out and got a spot at a school of our choice the week before the school year started!