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Estonia:Teaching and Learning in 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

 

Curriculum, Subjects, Number of Hours

The standard for basic education is established by the national curriculum for basic schools and t is implemented in all basic schools of the Republic of Estonia. In January 2011, the Government of the Republic approved the new national curriculum for basic schools, which was implemented in full in schools 1 September 2013.

At the core of the national curriculum are general competencies, the development of which must be supported by the entire learning process. In addition to teaching and learning objectives of subject areas, the development of general competencies is supported also by integration of subjects and study of cross-curricular topics.

The emphasis has shifted from teaching to learning, supported by formative assessment or an assessment which supports learning and development of a student. It is considered important that organisation of studies was based on the health and strength of students and that the applied methodology was based on the individual characteristics of students. In addition to physical study environment, the curriculum stresses also the important role of the social and mental study environment in the development of students. Teachers and schools have been allowed sufficient flexibility to organise teaching and learning based on a student-centred approach and taking into account the specific characteristics of the school and its resources.

The national curriculum presents a list of compulsory subjects and the number of lessons per week for each stage of study (see Table). Each stage of study has some lessons in a week that are used on the basis of a decision of the school, e.g., teaching elective subjects or providing  extended study of a compulsory subject with a higher number of lessons. Due to compulsory Estonian language lessons, schools with the language of instruction other than Estonian have a smaller number of elective subjects than Estonian-medium schools.

A more detailed use of classes of elective subjects is specified in the curriculum of the school.

Subject

Stage I

(Grades 1-3)

Stage II

(Grades 4-6)

Stage III

(Grades 7-9)

Estonian (Russian or other language of instruction) 19 11 6
Literature 4 6
Estonian as second language* 6* 12* 12*
Foreign language A 3 9 9
Foreign language B** 3** 9**
Mathematics 10 13 13
Natural science 3 7 2
Geography 5
Biology 5
Chemistry 4
Physics 4
History 3 6
Personal, social and health education 2 2 2
Civics and citizenship education 1 2
Music 6 4 3
Art 4,5 3 3
Physical education 8 8 6
Manual training, handicraft and home economics, technology studies 4,5 5 5
Elective subjects 8/2* 10/1* 4/1*

Comments:  *only in schools with the language of instruction other than Estonian; ** not compulsory for students who study Estonian as second language

With the approval of the board of trustees, a school may amend the list of compulsory subjects and cross-curricular topics (including combine and redesign subjects) and the schedule with a view to taking account of the unique characteristics of the school and regional characteristics and organising preliminary vocational training or vocational training or using elective courses and integrated subject and language studies (including language immersion) in schools where the language of instruction is not Estonian, provided that the general competencies, the learning outcomes and the goals of teaching and learning specified in the national curriculum are achieved by the students of the school upon completion of the stages of study. These changes are described in the school’s curriculum and the parents of the students’ parents are informed thereof.

Foreign language studies begin at stage I with the study of foreign language A. The study of foreign language B begins at stage II. English, French, German or Russian are studied as foreign language A and B. Also other foreign languages may be studied as foreign language B. A and B foreign languages are chosen by the school, bearing in mind the school’s possibilities and students’ wishes. By the end of basic school, students must acquire foreign language A at the level from B1.1 to B1.2 and foreign language B at the level from A2.2 to B1.1.

At a school where the language of instruction is other than Estonian, Estonian is learned as a second language from the first grade. A student whose native language is not Estonian but who attends a school where the Estonian is the language of instruction can also study  Estonian as a second language.  By the end of basic school, Estonian is acquired as a second language at the level from B1.1 to B2.1. For students who study Estonian as a second language, foreign language B is not compulsory.

Students whose mother tongue is not the language of instruction of the school are provided with the opportunity to learn their mother tongue and to learn about their national culture. Schools are obliged to organise language and culture studies in the amount of at least two lessons per week as elective subjects if at least ten students with the same mother tongue have expressed such desire.

In addition to compulsory subjects, the national curriculum also determines the cross-curricular themes that are treated in teaching and learning activities:

  • lifelong learning and career planning;
  • environment and sustainable development;
  • civil initiative and entrepreneurship;
  • cultural identity;
  • information environment;
  • technology and innovation;
  • health and safety;
  • values and morale.

Religious education is non-confessional and learning it is voluntary, but a school has an obligation to deliver religious education according to the syllabus included in the national curriculum.

While providing instruction, a school may change or adjust the time, contents, process and environment of study to support the individual development of a student. If the changes or adjustments substantially increase or decrease the weekly workload or intensity of studies in comparison with the school curriculum or reduce or replace the learning outcomes provided for in the national curricula, an individual curriculum must be drawn up for the student.

On the basis of the national curricula, the school will draw up a curriculum which is the underlying document for planning and organising teaching and learning at school.

Schools hold considerable power over deciding on the implementation of the curriculum and arranging teaching and learning.

Teaching Methods and Materials

Teaching and learning may be organised in different ways: all subjects are taught over the entire school year or subject teaching is concentrated on a certain study period; the general study periods may be used where teaching concentrates on certain themes and traditional subject lessons are not distinguished; studies that combine general and subject teaching, or in case of older students, subject study periods may also be used. Study may also be organised outside classrooms (in the school garden, in nature, museums, archives, environmental education centres, enterprises and organisations and in the virtual environment).

Teachers may freely choose between the methods they use for achievement of learning objectives and for development of students’ required general competencies. 

According to the national curriculum, it is obligatory to do the following in planning and carrying out teaching:

  • take account of the particularities of a student’s perceptive and thinking processes, abilities, linguistic, cultural and family background, age, gender, health situation, interest and experience;
  • make certain that a student’s work load corresponds to the student’s age and abilities, allowing him or her time for rest and hobby activities;
  • offer students diverse experiences from various cultural fields;
  • use knowledge and skills in actual situations; do research and link knowledge received in various fields to everyday life;
  • create opportunities for studying and coping in various social relationships (student-teacher, student-student);
  • use modern and diverse teaching methods, manners and aids (including oral and written texts, audio and visual study aids, computers, active study methods, study visits, outdoor and museum study, etc.);
  • use relevant assessment aids, manners and methods;
  • use differentiated study tasks the content and level of difficulty of which allow students to study with an appropriate effort, whereas taking everyone’s individuality into account.

In order to ensure and support the completion of the curriculum, schools shall use textbooks, exercise books, workbooks and other teaching aids.

The requirements for educational literature and publication thereof are established by a regulation of the minister. Schools are free to choose the educational literature required for completion of the school curriculum.

Owners of schools receive support from the state budget for purchase of textbooks, workbooks and teaching materials. During basic school, learning materials are free of charge for students.

The Ministry of Social Affairs has developed health care requirements for daily schedules of schools and organisation of study, treating, among other things, compilation of daily schedules in schools and assigning of homework. In grade 1, homework is generally not assigned and homework is also not assigned for the day after a holiday and the first day of an academic quarter.

Legislative References

National curriculum for basic schools

Health protection requirements for school timetables and organization of study

Conditions and procedure for language and culture teaching