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Why Norway's U-turn on private school cuts still has room for improvement

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Why Norway's U-turn on private school cuts still has room for improvement
Norway's potential U-turn on international school cuts may actually leave a lot to be desired. Pictured are computer labs in a school. Photo by Duane Loux on Unsplash

Norway has said it will postpone proposed cuts to some private and international schools. Despite this partial U-turn being described as damage limitation, some promising signs exist. 


Proposed cuts to private schools in Norway that offer both primary and secondary education have been put on hold after they were met with heavy opposition after being unveiled in the state budget in October. 

The government initially planned to save 514 million kroner over five years by changing the subsidies it pays out to some private and international schools.

The controversial proposal involved cutting additional grants paid out to private schools that provide combined primary and secondary education. The grants have been paid out for each school level, but the government wanted to reduce it to a single grant. 

READ ALSO: Norway to make partial U-turn on international school cuts

As a result of the backlash, the cuts will no longer happen in 2024, but the government has said that it still intends to carry the policy out. 


"Whilst it was indeed a relief to hear that the cuts will not be implemented in 2024, largely due to the Socialist Left Party's alternative budget, it is important to recognise that the intention is still to implement the cuts, simply at a later date," Thale Herbertson, acting head of school at Trondheim International School, told The Local. 

"The concern is that the statement could have more to do with limiting damage to their reputation rather than committing to any real alteration," Herbertson added. 

Andrew Gregory, the business manager at Kongsberg International School, was also left unimpressed with the initial annoucement. 

"I’m certainly not celebrating and I’m concerned that this is just talk, when it’s action that we need. It is of course positive that the government will now listen to the schools and has also agreed to look at other parts of the financing model that the independent school organisations have been highlighting. Right now, we really don’t know where we stand," Gregory told The Local.

The extra subsidies facing the chopping block have been paid out to compensate for the higher per-pupil running costs of private schools.

Education leaders had previously told The Local that if the cuts went ahead, schools would have to close, and teachers revealed in a survey that they feared for their jobs.

One positive for the acting head at Trondheim International School is that the government will assess the funding model overall and whether there are any areas in which funding could be distributed. Schools will be invited to a working group with the government to identify areas where the model can be improved.

"The private school sector has been very successful in drawing attention to the case around the funding model. The collaboration that has occurred between private school organisations, schools, parents, students, politicians, businesses and other organisations has been fantastic to observe, and I am hopeful this has laid the foundations for ongoing collaboration," Herbertson said. 


"If the government follows through on what they said, there is an opportunity for several aspects of the current funding model to be assessed, which is something the private school organisations have been requesting for many years. There is also hopefully the opportunity for the private school organisations to be involved in the work ahead," the acting head added. 

The results and the suggestions from the working groups will be assessed ahead of the revised national budget, which will be unveiled in the spring. 

Gregory said it is unlikely that the government would decide to scrap the plans to cut the subsidy for combined schools altogether. 

"That’s not my impression, but I’d be happy to be proved wrong," He said. 


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