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Estonia:National Reforms in School Education

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Overview Estonia

Contents

Estonia:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Estonia:Historical Development

Estonia:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Estonia:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Estonia:Political and Economic Situation

Estonia:Organisation and Governance

Estonia:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Estonia:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Estonia:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Estonia:Organisation of Private Education

Estonia:National Qualifications Framework

Estonia:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Estonia:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Estonia:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Estonia:Funding in Education

Estonia:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Estonia:Higher Education Funding

Estonia:Adult Education and Training Funding

Estonia:Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:Organisation

Estonia:Teaching and Learning

Estonia:Assessment

Estonia:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Estonia:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Higher Education

Estonia:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Estonia:First Cycle Programmes

Estonia:Bachelor

Estonia:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Estonia:Second Cycle Programmes

Estonia:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Estonia:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Estonia:Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Distribution of Responsibilities

Estonia:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Estonia:Main Providers

Estonia:Main Types of Provision

Estonia:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Estonia:Teachers and Education Staff

Estonia:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Management and Other Education Staff

Estonia:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Estonia:Management Staff for Higher Education

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Quality Assurance

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Educational Support and Guidance

Estonia:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Estonia:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Estonia:Mobility and Internationalisation

Estonia:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Mobility in Higher Education

Estonia:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Estonia:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Estonia:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:National Reforms in School Education

Estonia:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Estonia:National Reforms in Higher Education

Estonia:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Estonia:European Perspective

Estonia:Legislation

Estonia:Glossary

2015

School Network Programme

Definition of the policy document: Programme under the Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020, financed from state and the EU budget.

Policy domain concerned: basic education, general upper secondary education, vocational education and training, adult education.

Authority responsible: Ministry of Education and Research.

Reasons/aims/objectives of the reform: A decrease in the number of school-aged children and urbanisation has brought about a situation where schools have an unequal capacity in ensuring the quality of teaching and learning. It is difficult for the schools with a low number of children to ensure full work-load for teachers and provide a wide range of options for students (i.e. elective subjects, extra-curricular activities etc.), which makes upper secondary school students to choose for the upper secondary schools of bigger cities. A decrease in the number of students has caused inefficiency in buildings  use in many schools; a significant part of educational costs is spent on maintaining half-empty buildings.

The main objective of the programme is to reorganise the network of general education schools in order to ensure sustainability of the education system and equal availability of quality education throughout Estonia. Reorganising of school network aims at bringing the study places and learning conditions in compliance with demographic changes in order to maintain high quality basic education that can be obtained close to a child’s home and that is based on the principles of inclusive education, and to ensure equal access to a high quality upper secondary education with many options in all areas of Estonia.         

The school network programme supports creation of state upper secondary schools (grades 10 to 12). In such schools organisation of studies is designed exclusively for an upper secondary school student, preparing the student for studies in a higher education institution or in a vocational educational institution. Bringing upper secondary schools with an optimal number of students under the state administration increases the capacity of local governments to focus on the provision of high quality basic education (grades 1 to 9).  

Time frame: 2014–2020.

Amount of funding: In 2014–2020 (2023), the total funding will be 241 million euros, including 204.80 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This amount is increased by funding of local governments for relevant projects. 

Main activities:

  • Reorganisation of school network, incl. basic schools, upper secondary schools, schools for students with special educational needs;
  • Development of the infrastructure of basic schools and vocational schools with a view to promoting inclusive education;
  • Modernisation of the infrastructure of vocational educational institutions.

Expected impact and changes:

  •  As a result of the reorganisation of school network, state upper secondary schools with a modern learning environment will operate in every county (15);
  • The reorganised basic schools will be more functional, modern and efficient;
  • Space use efficiency will be improved in basic schools and upper secondary schools and maintenance costs of buildings will decrease. As an outcome, more funds will be allocated  to assuring the quality of teaching;
  • Learning possibilities  for students with special educational needs will be guaranteed in every county; the number of students with special educational needs in mainstream schools will increase;
  • The investment plan for vocational educational institutions will be developed and implemented. Planning of the upper secondary school network takes into account vocational educational institutions network and the investments made in the latter. If possible, the present and the planned infrastructure will be interoperable.    


Teacher and School Leadership Education Programme


Definition of the policy document: Programme under the Lifelong Learning Strategy  (2015−2018), financed from the EU and state budget.
Policy domain concerned: preschool education, basic education, general secondary education, vocational education and training, higher education, adult education.

Authority responsible: Ministry of Education and Research.

Time frame: 2015−2020

Reasons/aims/objectives of the reform: At the beginning of the academic year 2014/15, more than 40% of the teachers working in preschool, basic and vocational education were older than 50 years. The image of teaching profession is not high in the society, teaching profession is not popular in general and the salary is not motivating. Teachers and the heads of educational institutions believe in a constructive pedagogical approach which tries to make students more active and involved, but they apply such activities, including group work, project study and use of ICTs, rarely in the classroom. There is no comprehensive in-service training system for teachers and heads of schools because in-service training is project-based, types of education are treated separately, in an isolated manner, there is a lack of flexibility, one-sidedness in approach (mainly training) and uneven level of quality.       

The general objective of the programme is to bring assessment of teachers and heads of educational institutions into conformity with the approach that takes into consideration the needs of a student and develops the student’s creativity and innovation. To that end, a comprehensive in-service training system for teachers and heads of schools is planned to be developed. Teaching profession and the position of head of school will be made more appreciated and attractive.     

Amount of funding: For the whole period, the total cost of development activities is 24.6 million euros, including 20.9 million of financing from the EU structural funds. Additionally, 240 million euros per year will be paid under the programme for teachers’ remuneration.  

Main activities:

  • A unit coordinating targeted in-service training will be created in a foundation within the area of government of the Ministry of Education and Research (by way of reorganising a present unit) and competence centres will be developed at the universities providing teacher training;
  • In-service training based on professional standard/competency model will be developed for teachers, heads of educational institutions and school staff.
  • Quality requirements for service providers will be developed;
  • For teachers in employment modern solutions with flexible forms of study will be created, allowing them to acquire additional competencies / additional specialty whilst working;
  • Competencies of lecturers will be developed (incl. at international level), courses in higher school didactics will be provided;
  • Opportunities will be created for entering teaching profession through alternative learning paths and working experience; programmes increasing the number of next generation of teachers and improving the image will be implemented;
  • Organisation of teacher training school practice will be developed;
  • Implementation of improvement projects of schools will be supported;
  • The initial training conducted in universities will be linked to in-service training and opportunities will be created for teaching an additional subject or for acquiring a pedagogical, an integrated subject and language training or other similar competence;
  • Systems and solutions will be developed to help teachers and heads of educational institutions to assess the level of their skills and get feedback about their development needs and performance;
  • Basis for differentiation of the pay for teachers and lecturers will be developed and the average wage of teachers will be increased.

Expected impact and changes:

  • Educational institutions have an organisational culture supporting an approach to learning that complies with the expectations and needs of the society and students;
  • Competency of teachers, lecturers and heads of educational institutions has increased and in-service training supports bringing professional skills up to date;
  • Teaching competencies of teachers, lecturers and heads of educational institutions has improved and, as a result, the learning outcomes of students will also improve;
  • The teaching methods used by teachers support students’ individual development, creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation as well as the implementation of the principles of inclusive education and better coping of students with special educational needs at all levels and in all types of education;
  • Competency requirements for heads of educational institutions have been developed, which form the basis for employing heads of schools, giving feedback to work and creating opportunities for in-service training; as a result, Estonian educational institutions are managed by competent and motivated heads;
  • Centrally coordinated next generation programmes will be implemented for ensuring a next generation of heads of schools;
  • Criteria have been developed for evaluation of the performance of teachers, implementation of which allows differentiation of pay depending on the contribution and results;
  • Attractiveness of teaching profession has increased;
  • The programme contributes to a decrease in the share of students with lower-level skills and in the drop-out rate as well as to an increase in the share of students with high-level skills. The participation rate of adults in lifelong learning will increase and the share of young lower educated people who are out of education will decrease. Implementation of the activities under the programme ensures an increase in the share of teachers aged 30 and younger and in the share of men among teachers of general education. Competition for teacher training places will increase.   


2013

Modernisation of general education system

Definition of policy development: regulation and legislative document.

Policy domain concerned: Organisation and Governance, Funding in Education, Early Childhood Education and Care, Primary Education, Secondary Education, Teachers and Education Staff, Management and Other Education Staff.

Authority responsible: Ministry of Education and Research.

Coordinating/implementing bodies: state, local governments.

Time frame:  adopted – 2013; expected date of full implementation – 2020.
In 2013, the Riigikogu adopted amendments to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act.

Reasons/aims/objectives of the reform: The aim is to improve the quality and attractiveness of general education and to prevent and reduce the school drop-out rate.  The amendments also address the following challenges in the general education system:  

  • the unclear distribution of tasks, obligations and responsibility among the main actors in general education;
  • dissatisfaction of teachers of Estonia with their salaries, workload and arrangement resulting in a low popularity of teachers profession;
  • students, teachers and parents complain about governmental basic and upper secondary school curricula overload;
  • undesirable side effects of funding system in combination with an ineffective school network, lack of transparency of spending of allocations made by the state to local governments – funding system not supporting the performance of educational tasks – as a result, small upper secondary school section in some local governments, which offer little choices and weak competitiveness to their students, are often being maintained at the expense of basic schools.

Main actions and measures:

  • Optimising the educational institutions network, incl. separation of basic and upper secondary school;
  • Revisiting the teacher’s profession, incl. the increase in quality of pedagogical education alongside ensuring decent salaries for teachers;
  • Developing and implementing a financing model to guarantee access to a good basic school in close proximity to home and to an upper-secondary school in the home county that offers multiple choices;
  • Strengthening the role of the board of trustees in organising the activities of the school;
  • Strengthening the school leadership.

Expected impact and changes:

  • good quality basic education in close proximity to home is guaranteed; opportunities for good quality and diverse upper-secondary education are provided in all counties; each county has a state upper secondary school;
  • teachers are remunerated   in accordance with their actual work load and duties defined in the employment contract; a new vocation system is applied instead of occupational grades;
  • the role and responsibility of the head and the board of trustees in ensuring school efficiency has strengthened;
  • availability of high quality textbooks has improved;
  • availability of support services has improved, especially for smaller local governments and schools;


References:

Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act