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Estonia:Organisation of Single Structure 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

 

Geographical Accessibility

In organisation of study, the state, school owners and schools follow the principle that quality general education must be equally accessible to all persons irrespective of their social and economic background, nationality, gender, place of residence or special educational need.

A rural municipality or city shall provide a child subject to the duty to attend school, whose place of residence is located in the administrative territory of the rural municipality or city, with the opportunity to perform the duty to attend school and obtain basic education according to the relevant curriculum. In order to do that, the local municipality determines which school is a child’s school of residence. When determining the school of residence, closeness of home to school, attendance of the same family’s children of the same school and, if possible, parents’ wishes are taken into account.

At the request of a parent, a rural municipality or a city shall provide the child of a representative of a foreign country or international organisation accredited to the Republic of Estonia who resides in the rural municipality or city with opportunities for the acquisition of basic education in the school of residence.

At least 80% of the students for whom a basic school is the school of residence may not spend more than 60 minutes for getting to school. Students’ travel to school and back is organised by local municipalities – bearing in mind that the distance walked by a student may not exceed 3km.

A student acquiring basic education may be taught by way of home educating at the request of a parent or for health reasons.

A rural municipality or city shall provide persons aged 17 years or older, who have not acquired basic education and whose place of residence is located in the rural municipality or city with opportunities for the acquisition of basic education by way of non-stationary studies.

Admission Requirements and Choice of School

Children who are in an age of compulsory school attendance are subject to the obligation to attend school. Children who have attained 7 years of age by 1 October of the current year are subject to the obligation to attend school. Students are subject to the obligation to attend school until they acquire basic education or attain 17 years of age.

In pre-school child care institutions the school-readiness of children is assessed. A preschool child care institution issues a readiness for school card to a child who has completed the curriculum of the preschool institution that describes the results of the development of the child from cognitive, physical and social aspects. A parent submits the readiness for school card to the school where the child commences his or her compulsory school attendance.

Children below the age of compulsory school attendance can also commence school studies if the parent so wishes and if the counselling committee or the child care institution that the child attends has assessed the child’s readiness for school and has recommended commencement of school studies.

A school is required to admit all persons subject to the duty to attend school who have expressed such desire and for whom the school is the school of residence. Students are admitted to a school of residence without admission tests. Parents are free to choose a school for their children subject to the obligation to attend school outside their place of residence if vacant places in that school are available. Some schools with profound studies which admit children all over the state may organise admission tests for the candidates to find out their capabilities and talents.

In private schools a teachers’ council can also establish additional conditions for admitting students.

A parent of a child who, due to his or her state of health, has not achieved the readiness for school required for commencement of studies by the time of reaching the age of compulsory school attendance, may submit to the counselling committee an application for the postponement of the commencement of performance of the duty to attend school by one year. The conditions and procedures for satisfying an application are established by the Minister of Social Affairs.

In case of a student who has arrived from a foreign school or a student who has studied under a different curriculum, the teachers’ council will decide the appropriate grade in which the student continues his or her studies, considering the age of the student and the education acquired so far according to ISCED 1997. A student who had studied in an Estonian school before the departure to a foreign country shall, upon return, continue in the same grade in which the student would have been if he or she had been transferred to the next grade after each academic year. Upon a parent’s request, the student may continue studies in a lower grade.

A student subject to compulsory school attendance shall be excluded from school if a parent has submitted the respective application to the school or if the student has commenced the acquisition of education in another school or in a foreign educational institution. A student who, on a temporary basis, acquires education in a foreign educational institution, shall not be excluded from the list of the students of the school during the standard period of study if home educating is applied to the student.

Age Levels and Grouping of Students

Basic school has 3 stages:  stage I – grades 1–3; stage II – grades 4–6;  stage III –  grades 7–9. Usually children of the same age go to the same class. Due to flexible organisation of studies (also children younger than the age of compulsory school attendance may commence school studies and it is possible to postpone the commencement of performance of the duty to attend school; it is possible, based on an individual curriculum compiled for a student, to either prolong or shorten the time for completing a grade; or the basis of a decision of the teachers' council, students may be required to a grade), the age difference of students in one class may be 1–3 years. According to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act, the upper limit of the size of a class or study group is 24 pupils in basic school. The owner of a school may, based on a proposal of the head of the school and with the approval of the board of trustees, also establish an upper limit higher than the upper limit specified above, or, in exceptional cases, increase the number of pupils in one specific class for one academic year provided that all health-protection and safety requirements are met. If the number of students of two or three classes together is 16 or less, a composite class may be formed of these students.

In classes for children with special educational needs, the upper limit of class size is smaller, 4-12 students, depending on the type of class.

In grades 1–6, one and the same teacher (a class teacher) usually teaches almost all subjects. Starting from grade 7, subject teachers teach one subject or more according to their qualification. Subject teachers may teach one or more subjects according to their qualification also in grades 1–6. From stage II, in technology classes students are divided into study groups on the basis of their requests and interests and regardless of their gender, allowing them to choose either handicraft and home economics or technology studies. Further, from stage II, there are separate classes in physical education for boys and girls. Students can also be divided into groups in a foreign language and other lessons if the budget of the school so allows.   

Organisation of the School Year

The organisation of an academic year is regulated by the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act.

An academic year lasts from 1 September of the current year until 31 August of the next year. An academic year consists of academic periods and school holidays. Academic quarters shall include not less than 175 days of study (35 weeks). In the final year, academic periods include at least 185 days of study. On the day of a final examination and on two preceding days, there are no lessons but these days are included in the number of school days.

The Minister of Education and Research determines school holidays on a yearly basis. Holidays last usually for one week, winter holidays last between 2 and 3 weeks. On the basis of a proposal of the head of the school and with the approval of the board of trustees, the manager of a school may establish school holidays different from those established by the Minister of Education and Research, taking into consideration that during the academic year there are four school holidays with a total duration of at least 12 weeks, whereby the summer holiday lasts at least eight consecutive weeks.

In a basic school, activities relating to additional studies may be organised during the summer holiday, taking into account that a holiday of no less than ten weeks is ensured for a student. The Private Schools Act provides that students shall have at least 8 weeks of holiday per academic year, of which two weeks shall be during the academic year.

The maximum weekly workload of a basic school student is specified in the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act:

  • 20 lessons in grade 1;
  • 23 lessons in grade 2;
  • 25 lessons in grade 3 and 4;
  • 28 lessons in grade 5;
  • 30 lessons in grade6 and 7;
  • 32 lessons in grade 8 and 9.


A student’s weekly workload by subject is determined by a school curriculum.

A school is allowed, on the basis of an individual curriculum drawn up for a student, to make changes or adaptations to the student’s period of study, change the student’s weekly workload and the intensity of study.

Organisation of the School Day and Week

One week includes up to five school days. The daily schedule of a school or a student’s individual curriculum determines the number of lessons within a school day and the duration and sequence thereof. At the first stage of study students have usually 4 to 5 lessons per day; at the second and third stage of study students have up to 7 lessons per day. The estimated duration of a lesson is 45 minutes. A lesson can be divided into several parts and up to two lessons can be conducted without a break.

Lessons start at 8 a.m. or later. At the first stage of study, lessons finish usually between noon and 1 p.m., at 2 p.m. at the second stage of study and from 3 to 4 p.m. at the third stage of study.

In most schools children attend school in one shift, only 1% of schools have organised studies in two shifts. The lessons of the 2nd shift end the latest at 7 p.m.

Lessons alternate with breaks of at least 10 minutes per a lesson of 45 minutes. The longest break of a school day is the lunch break, which is usually between 10 a.m. and noon. The duration of a lunch break differs by school, ranging from 20 minutes to 1 hour.

To avoid school exhaustion, study activities must be distributed evenly between school days of an academic year.

All students can have warm lunch at school every day. Support for covering school lunch expenses of students acquiring basic and secondary education in municipal and private schools is allocated from the state budget.

The head of a school may, with the consent of the owner, form long day groups at school for basic school students. In long day groups students are supervised, guided in spending free time, doing homework and pursuing hobbies.

After the end of lessons, students can also take part in the activities of hobby groups operating in school.

Legislative References

Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act

General conditions and procedure for admission of students to school and procedure for exclusion of students from school

Conditions and procedure for language and culture teaching

Conditions and procedure for the postponement of performance of the duty to attend school