Free School thinking rests on the balance of individual responsibilities and freedoms, on the primacy of learning rather than schooling, and of personal development rather than
With these goes an appreciation of the symbiosis between the individual's development as dependent on the community and the development of community as dependent on the individual.
The aim is to create a healthy and sustainable society on the basis of healthy and wholly developed individuals. This means nurturing the potential of every individual, regardless of
background and ability and regardless of age. For in the Free School tradition, learning is life-long, and people of all ages have the opportunity to develop their knowledge and abilities. Even more important, learning here is learning for life; its aims are not short-term or trivial but relate to the essence of the individual's being in the world. This form of education involves equal and substantial degrees of trust and of freedom. It means giving each individual responsibility through involvement in the democratic process and enabling each individual to support and be supported by all other individuals in the process of learning.
There are now about 80 Højskoler, 500 Friskoler and 260 Efterskoler in Denmark. About one in every six Danish children goes to a Free School. According to Ministry of Education figures, in 2009-2010 a total of 576,890 children were in state schools, 95,854 at Friskoler
and 26,855 at Efterskoler. The proportion of children going to Free Schools is increasing.
There are also growing numbers of Free Schools being established abroad as Free School thinking spreads. It has to be emphasized that one of the strengths of the tradition lies in its openness and in the rich variety that it encourages.
In Denmark, all children must receive nine years' of schooling, but - provided certain minimum standards are achieved - it is a matter of choice for the parents whether the education is received
a) in a state primary and lower secondary school,
b) in an independent (or 'free') school, or
c) at home.