In April 2016, the Government adopted a new white paper (Kunnskapsløftet) from 2006. The renewal of the school subjects in primary and lower- and upper secondary education, including VET, will give learners more in-depth training and a better subject understanding, more relevant content and links between subjects and the learning process progression will be made clearer. The new curricular will be ready autumn 2020.
) that will lead to a renewal of the curricular reform (
The national curriculum
The National Curriculum for Knowledge Promotion (Kunnskapsløftet 2006) covers compulsory primary and lower secondary education and upper secondary education and training as a whole.
The curriculum consists of:
- the Core Curriculum – values and principles in education;
- subject curricula;
- a framework regulating the distribution of teaching hours per subject.
The Core Curriculum deepens appreciation of basic values such as moral outlook, creative abilities, preparation for working life and society, general education, cooperation, and ecological understanding. This part of the curriculum underlies all education in Norway from primary to adult education and constitutes the binding foundation and values for primary and upper secondary education and training.
The quality framework consists of the principles that clarify the school owners’ (municipalities and county authorities’) responsibilities. Key competencies are integrated into the quality framework, such as learning strategies, social competencies, cultural competencies, motivation to learn, and learner participation.
The subject curricula consist of outcome-based learning targets, the main subject areas and basic skills. The main subject areas describe what the learner and apprentice should be able to do. The basic skills are: the ability to express oneself orally and in writing, the ability to read, fluency in numeracy, and the ability to use digital tools. The subject curricula also describe which final assessment will be given on completion.
The distribution of teaching hours per subject is set at national level. This is an overview of how the total teaching hours should be distributed per subject per year for the 10-year compulsory education as well as for the upper secondary level, VET included.
The National Curriculum encompasses 10-year compulsory education and upper secondary education and training as a whole. The competence objectives state what the learner/apprentice should be able to master at each level after grades 2, 4, 7 and 10, as well as after every stage of upper secondary education and training. Basic skills are decisive for acquiring subject-related knowledge and for communicating and cooperating with others in a wide range of situations. Their aims are integrated with, and adapted to each subject according to level. The subject curricula also describe the principles for assessment. However, decisions regarding teaching methods are left to the education and training institutions. Curricular activities at local levels are essential in order to implement the National Curriculum, particularly the outcome-based competence aims in the subject curricula. The school owners must have a system in place for following up the quality of local curricular activities. The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training develops web-based guidelines to support local curricular activities as well as other measures to raise competence among school owners and school managements.
Developing VET curricula
The Directorate has responsibility for continuous curricular development. For this purpose it makes extensive use of expert groups from both schools and enterprises providing upper secondary education. When the need for a new qualification is identified, a tripartite group is set up to design vocational profiles. These form the basis for developing the subject curricula. The Directorate appoints teams for curricular development consisting of professionals (most often proposed by the employer and employee organisations) and VET teachers.
Within three months, the team submits a draft version of the curricula to the Directorate. The draft is distributed to the sector for a three-month consultation process. Relevant feedback is incorporated into the draft curricula. With support from external representatives from the sector, the quality of the curricula is assured by the Directorate. Depending on the subject, the curricula are finally set by the Ministry or the Directorate.
The identified labour market needs will have no direct influence on teachers’ training or assessment, but the training of teachers and the assessment of learners and apprentices will be dependent on the subject curricula.
In addition, the Directorate has a follow-up system for curricula (System for oppfølging av læreplan (SOL)). The purpose of the system is to obtain a more holistic and systematic overview of the situation for the curricula. SOL entails reviewing, compiling and analysing different sources that inform the situation for the curricula and how they function. These sources include studies, enquiries, evaluation reports and statistics. The intention is that SOL should contribute to making administration of the curricula more systematic, knowledge-based and predictable. The knowledge gained gives the Directorate a basis for initiating the necessary and adequate measures for strengthening implementation of the curricula. These measures can support and inform VET providers when adjusting the curricula.
Norway is in the process of renewing all subjects at all levels of education. The renewed subjects and a new core curriculum will be implemented in 2020.