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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Secondary and post-Secondary non-Tertiary Education

Chapter Topics

Chapter Topics

Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

A variety of situations exists across Europe regarding the organisation of secondary education. In some countries where schools are organised in a single structure, all information on lower secondary education is already included in topic 5 which is devoted to primary education or integrated primary and lower secondary education structures. For some other countries, no distinction is made between lower and upper secondary education. 

Thererefore, some flexibility is offered in the way national systems are presented. Each secondary education description may be divided in up to 5 parts:

  • General Lower Secondary Education
  • Vocational Lower Secondary Education
  • General Upper Secondary Education
  • Vocational Upper Secondary Education
  • Post-Secondary non Tertiary Education


Types of Institutions

Geographical accessibility and the steps taken to address any potential obstacles to access for pupils/students who live in less populated areas.

Admission requirements and choice of school e.g.

  • Aptitudes
  • Certificates
  • Entrance exams

Age levels and grouping of pupils/students e.g.

  • In cases in which many teachers provide instruction for the same group of pupils/students, the various subjects and stages they teach are indicated
  • Whether or not children of different ages belong to the same class
  • Whether or not teachers may stay with the same class for several years is also indicated

The organisation of the school year including:

  • Minimum core guidelines or central recommendations in the steering documents
  • Official regulations regarding the structure of the annual timetable (semesters, three month terms etc.)
  • The existence of a maximum or minimum number of weekly hours set by law

The organisation of the school day and week including the number of lessons in the school day and per week, as well as the opening hours of institutions.

Teaching and learning

Curriculum, Subjects and Number of Hours including:

  • The minimum core curriculum
  • Titles of various subjects or groups of subjects (including both compulsory and optional)
  • Number of hours for which they are taught

Teaching methods and materials including:

  • The implementation of major methodological guidelines
  • Use of new technologies in class
  • Whether or not the teacher is free to choose the methodology
  • Whether teaching materials are compulsory or recommended and the body responsible for preparing such materials


Pupil/Students assessment including:

  • Whether the purpose of evaluating is continuous and formative or rather summative (at the end of a learning cycle/module)
  • Details such as which subjects are evaluated and how often
  • The techniques used by teachers to assess pupils and whether these change from year to year

Progression of Pupils/ Students including:

  • The circumstances under which the decision to allow pupils to progress from one class and/or stage to another is taken
  • Whether or not it is possible for a pupil to repeat a class

Certification including:

  • Information concerning the authority responsible for certification (if such a body exists)
  • The content and methods e.g. exams, continuous assessment etc