Danish students amongst EU’s best for school grades

Amongst the 28 EU member states, as well as five other countries, Denmark takes a solid fourth place when it comes to school leavers’ skills in reading, mathematics and science.

Danish students amongst EU’s best for school grades
File photo: Anne Bæk/Ritzau Scanpix

The statistics are included in the European Commission’s annual status report on education, which draws on test results from Pisa and Eurostat, Politiken reports.

The Danish education system scores better than the average of EU countries on a number of key points – rising above its domestic reputation, says Lars Qvortrup, a professor at Aarhus University’s Danish School of Education (DPU).

“Pessimism towards education has spread in Denmark and it is not well-founded,” Qvortrup told Politiken.

Denmark is surpassed only by Estonia, Finland and Ireland in the EU report.

According to the Danish Union of Teachers (Danmarks Lærerforening, DL), the study is evidence that Danish state schools deserve more positivity in public debate.

“Throughout the last 15-20 years, we have seen that a negative picture has been painted of Danish students in elementary school,” said DL chairman Anders Bondo Christensen.

“We have here a study that shows a completely different picture. Therefore, it is important to use international assessments in a different way than we have up to now,” he added.

Students with lower overall outcomes also perform well above the EU average in Denmark, with just eight percent considered in the study to be struggling in all three areas: reading, mathematics and science.

15 percent find it difficult to read, 13.5 percent have difficulty with mathematics and 15.9 percent have problems with science. That represents an improvement since 2014.

The Danish education system performs well in virtually all parameters of the evaluation, which also measures various other aspects.

The report comes as the government is negotiating an adjustment of the so-called skolereformen (school reform), a 2014 update to education legislation which made changes including a longer school day and more inclusion of children with special educational needs in regular classes.

Minister of Education, Merete Riisager declined to comment on the EU report to Politiken.

Via email, Riisager told the newspaper that the purpose of the negotiations is not a new reform, but to ensure politicians cannot “sit on their hands” if there is no visible “progress towards the ambitious goals of the reform”.

There are also areas where the Danish system is lagging, the EU report points out. These include students with immigrant backgrounds lagging behind peers in terms of exam results and admittance to further education.

READ ALSO: Schools in Denmark favour rules on mobile phones


Schools to close in Copenhagen suburb after infection surge

Denmark's health authorities have yet again closed schools for the youngest children in the Copenhagen suburb of Ishøj, in a push to reduce infection in the municipality.

Schools to close in Copenhagen suburb after infection surge
The youngest children were the first to return to the classroom on Monday. Photo: Anthon Unger/Ritzau Scanpix
The children in years 0 to 4 (6 to 11 years old) had only returned to the classroom five days ago on Monday.
“The infection rate needs to go down in Ishøj Municipality, where the infection curve has seen a sharp 67 percent rise since the beginning of February,” Denmark's health minister Magnus Heunicke said in a press statement issued on Friday evening. 
“We are therefore imposing stricter measures on the municipality to make sure we act on time.” 
The children will be taught by distance learning for one week until the start of the winter break on February 19th, and will then return to school after the break is over on February 28th. 
As well as the school closures, the government is calling on all  residents in the municipality to get tested next week, regardless of symptoms, and has also set up a local task force, to work to drive down infection in the municipality. 
A hundred additional contact tracers have been sent to the municipality to identify new chains of infection. 
“This requires a joint effort from all citizens in Ishøj Municipality,” Heunicke said. “I am making a big appeal to the municipality's citizens for everyone to now work to break the municipality's infection curve.” 
According to Denmark's state broadcaster DR, over the last week 71 residents of the municipality have tested positive for coronavirus, giving it a case rate of 300 per 100,000 citizens. 
Older pupils in Denmark are still being taught by distance learning until at least February 28th.