Trude Jahren.

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Trude Jahren. A.M. Saanders

Trude Jahren. Headteacher of the Norwegian school in Benalmádena

A Scandinavian approach to education on the Costa del Sol

Earlier this month 140 students at the Norwegian school in Benalmádena celebrated their country's constitution day and the end of their school year; headteacher Trude Jahren talks to SUR in English about the school and its philosophy

Alekk M. Saanders

Monday, 22 May 2023


The philosophy of Scandinavian education is based in general on the idea that each child is a complete human being, deserving equal attention and respect for the individual's beliefs. It aims to provide insight into cultural diversity.

Norwegian education is also all about learning to think critically, act ethically and be environmentally aware, Trude Jahren, head of the Norwegian school, Den Norske Skolen, in Benalmádena, told SUR in English on the occasion of their country's national day, on 17 May.

“I think that the training in schools and apprenticeships should, in cooperation and understanding with the home, open doors to the world and the future," she said.

"It is important to give the pupils historical and cultural insight and grounding. That's why our training is based on fundamental values in Christian and humanist heritage and tradition, such as respect for human dignity and nature, on freedom of spirit, charity, forgiveness, equality and solidarity, values which are also expressed in various religions and views of life and which are anchored in human rights,” said Jahren.

The Norwegian school
The Norwegian school A. M. Saanders

Be a part even abroad

Initially, Norwegian schools were established by Norwegians wanting to live and work abroad. When the schools grew, the Norwegian government started funding them, stating that it was important to ensure the education of Norweigan children abroad and to give them the opportunity to follow the Norwegian school system. The programmes are tailored to families who want to stay connected to Norway and its education system. It means that if they return to Norway, the children do not end up having to catch up at school.

The Norwegian government started funding the schools, stating that it was an important to give children living abroad the opportunity to follow their school system

“Today, most of the students are from families that stay here in Malaga province for a year or two. Although, we have a growing group of pupils who have one Norwegian parent and one Spanish parent and live their whole life here," Trude Jahren said.

In order to be admitted to the school, pupils are required to have a Norwegian passport. "It is a rule and some limits we follow," said Jahren, adding, "I would also stress that we like to contribute to the integration of our families, but due to the high mobility in our school, and the fact that most of our students stay for a couple of years, this is not always easy or a priority for our families."

Jahren also emphasised that the school offers various activities for the families to join in with, such as football, dancing and drama groups. There is also a 'friendship' class with Colegio Jacaranda, a Spanish school in Benalmádena.

At the school.
At the school. A.M.Saanders

The Norwegian school system is about guidance, advice and examples to help the child fully develop their potential in a safe and stable environment. Jahren's mission is to inspire students' happiness, creativity and the desire for lifelong learning.

“In my vision, a good environment should be based on three golden rules - I'm here to learn, I'm here to help others learn, and I'm here to help everyone have a good time. The school and the training company must meet the students and apprentices with trust, respect and demands and give them challenges that promote education and a desire to learn,” Jahren stressed.

Norwegian teachers believe students learn more when they are enjoying themselves and they feel safe and included

Norwegian teachers are sure that students learn more when they are enjoying themselves and they feel safe and included. Henceforth, the school does not tolerate any form of discrimination and there is no place for bullying, an issue that is unfortunately becoming more prominent in schools in Malaga province, Jahren explained.

From Oslo to Benalmádena

Trude Jahren was born and raised in Oslo, where she did a masters degree in school management. She then moved to the Costa del Sol with her partner and seven-year-old daughter.

"The biggest change was probably for our daughter"

Trude Jahren

“Before coming to the Costa del Sol, I was working as a school leader in Oslo. I came to Malaga in August 2017 as the assistant headteacher and around half year later, I was appointed headteacher," Jahren said.

Regarding the adjustment, she said it went well for her family: "We had been on holiday here for several years before we moved, so we knew the area well. The biggest change was probably for our daughter, who in Norway was used to being able to walk and cycle to friends' [houses] after school, while here she has to be driven and followed by us parents everywhere.”

The school itself has moved a few times around the Costa del Sol. Den Norske skolen started in 1989 in La Cala de Mijas in the home of the first headteacher. It then moved to a typical old Spanish farmhouse in Los Pacos in Fuengirola, then to Benalmádena and some years later back to Fuengirola in Los Boliches, in the building that is now the Swedish School. Finally, in 2017 the Benalmádena council authorised a plot of land to build a school.

To learn from each other

Not every school in Benalmádena can boast that the school year starts with a ceremony with the mayor. Víctor Navas participates in the opening ceremony of the school year at Den Norske Skolen. He visits the school “to find out about another way of teaching and understanding education", said Jahren.

Not every school in Benalmádena can boast that the school year starts with a ceremony with the mayor

Jahren also finds learning from each other to be a crucial moment in co-living. “It's enriching to learn from each other regardless of who we are, where we come from or what we believe in. Learning to get to know others, who are not necessarily like us, creates greater understanding and togetherness," she said.

She described Benalmádena as a "generous and hospitable municipality" adding that "here we have the opportunity to get to know each other beyond the borders of culture, religion, language or social conditions. It gives us a greater understanding. I am sure it makes us more generous and tolerant towards other cultures and people, because tolerance and generosity are the pillars of a peaceful society.”

At last year's celebration. A.M.Saanders
Imagen principal - At last year's celebration.
Imagen secundaria 1 - At last year's celebration.
Imagen secundaria 2 - At last year's celebration.

Trude Jahren repeated these words in Spanish at Norway's annual Constitution Day celebration, held in Arroyo de la Miel on 17 May, and actually coincided with the end of the school year.

Children took centre stage at celebrations, with over 140 Norwegian students and teachers as well as students from Colegio Jacaranda participating in the parade, alongside the mayor, as well as other activities.

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