Types of Institutions
Upper secondary education is provided by:
- non-specialized school (high schools - profile high schools; vocational high schools, general secondary schools, including those which are innovative)
- specialized schools (sport schools, art schools, religious schools, combined, cultural schools)
- evening schools
- special schools - for training and support to students with sensory disabilities, in separate classes in those schools, correctional boarding schools and social educational boarding schools
- schools in places of imprisonment
The characteristics of school distribution at the level of upper secondary education are generally the same as those for primary schools.
Upper secondary schools are distributed mainly in the cities, where the number of students is greater. Students living in villages where there is no school offering secondary education, travel to an appropriate school outside the village. Students get discounts on travelling costs for railway and city transport.
The rationalisation of the school network with regard to education institutions granting general and vocational secondary education has some specific dimensions. It is executed in accordance with the development of the different regions of the country, their social and economic status and the general status of the labour market. There is a constant effort of bringing professions that are taught at the school and majors as close as possible to the specific features of the region, its industrial development and the need for certain specialists for different branches.
Admission Requirements and Choice of School
The conditions and procedures concerning enrollment at secondary schools are as follows:
- 8th grade – in specialized study courses upper secondary schools, in specialized classes with intensive foreign language instruction at general secondary schools, vocational upper secondary schools and classes leading to the acquisition of professional qualification at general secondary schools and specialized upper secondary schools;
- 9th grade – in specialized upper secondary schools, in specialized classes at general secondary schools, in high schools, in vocational high schools, in non-specialized classes at general secondary schools and in classes leading to the acquisition of professional qualification within general secondary schools, in vocational upper secondary schools and other upper secondary schools;
- 7th or 8th grade for the acquisition of professional qualification and basic education – in vocational schools and vocational classes within basic, general lower secondary and upper secondary schools.
Students can apply to an unlimited number of schools. Up to 5 places in a class can be reserved for students suffering from chronic diseases, physical and sensor disabilities. In vocational schools and vocational upper secondary schools these could also be students from the institutions for raising and educating children deprived of parental care. The head of the Regional Inspectorate of Education approves the state enrollment and the enrollment in non-specialized classes at every school not later than September 5th. Students are enrolled after an examination of their abilities and/or their documents. Examining their abilities can be done through three types of exams: on a school subject, a test and examination of abilities.
Entrance exams for 8th and 9th grades should be taken on the territory of the region where the students have completed their 7th grade or basic education. When a certain exam is planned to be carried out in a particular region only, students can sit for this exam on the territory of another region. As of 2010 all 7th graders sit for an external assessment in all major subjects they have studied. Those who want to study in one of the more selective schools should also take a second module in Bulgarian Language and Literature and Mathematics. When the results are announced students can make their choice of schools to apply to. Together with the application form they also submit their original certificate for having completed 7th grade or corresponding basic education certificate. For some schools and study courses students should also submit a medical certificate issued by their GP.
Students can enroll in grade 8that:
- specialized upper secondary schools and class sections with intensive foreign language instruction at secondary general schools;
- at vocational upper secondary schools and class sections leading to the acquisition of professional qualification at secondary general schools;
- specialized upper secondary schools.
Only students who have completed 7th grade in the year of application can be enrolled. The requirements for being enrolled are a grade of at least Fair (3) on the entrance exams. The exams are as follows:
- for Humanities, Natural Sciences, Foreign languages and Technology profile schools and class sections, as well profession specialities – in Bulgarian Language and Literature and in Mathematics;
- for specialized study courses in Art and certain vocational classes requiring abilities in the sphere of fine arts, music or choreography – a test and an examination in the respective subject;
- for specialized study courses in Sports – a test and an examination in sports.
Students can enroll in grade 9th at:
- specialized study course upper secondary schools, secondary general schools and in other upper secondary schools;
- vocational upper secondary schools and vocational schools;
- non-specialized schools and class sections leading to acquisition of professional qualification at secondary general schools, specialized upper secondary schools and other upper secondary schools.
Students are accepted after submission of the required documents or after taking an entrance exam in a subject or after examination of their abilities. Students are accepted in non-specialized classes after submission of the required documents. Upon applying students are required to:
- have finished basic education;
- be not older than 17 (for full-time education only);
- show that instruction in Arts, Sports or particular fields within professions will not affect unfavourably their health;
- have received at least Fair (3,00) at the entrance exam(s) in the case of such.
To be enrolled students should submit the following documents at the corresponding school:
- application form;
- certificate for completing basic education;
- certificate proving the grade from the entrance exam in the case of such;
- medical certificate issued by the student’s GP.
Students rank the schools and majors according to their own wish in the application form.
In a class in a school may be taught up to 3 students with special educational needs for which the parent/guardian submits to the school a document from the Regional team for support of personal development of children with special educational needs. In the cases, where on the territory of the populated place there is not another class, which may provide the same education, the number of the children and students in a certain class may be larger after a permission by the head of the relevant Regional educational office. Students with chronic diseases can be accepted, for which the parent / guardian has submitted all the necessary documents to the school. The number of students with chronic diseases is up to 3 per class.
Age Levels and Grouping of Students
Students within one and the same age form the grades and classes at the upper secondary level, which lead to completion of secondary education in the daily form of schooling.
Division into classes and groups for different academic subjects and the formation of groups from different classes is done within one and the same grade. In evening form of schooling and in adult education forms, including secondary education, classes and groups are formed by students of different age groups. For secondary general schools (both specialized and non-specialized study courses) at upper secondary level (9th to 12th grades), the number of students in a class varies between 18 and 26. Classes in the last grade of high school can be of at least 13 students.
At the upper secondary level of education classes can be divided into groups in the following cases:
- in classes where students study different foreign languages a group is formed with at least 10 students, if this language is not studied in other classes of the same grade.
- for laboratory classes in Chemistry and Environment protection, Physics and astronomy, Biology and health education whenever the class is more than 25 students;
- in Computer science and information technology the minimum number of students in a group is 8.
Students within one and the same age form the grades and classes at the upper secondary level. The number of students in a class in non-specialized and specialized schools from VIII-XII grade can be between 18 and 26 in full-time education, between 18 and 30 in evening form and between 15 and 35 in extramural education. Variations from the minimum and maximum number of students are allowed in the Ordinance on the financing of institutions in the system of preschool and school education, for example: in protected schools, in classes for training in protected specialties from professions and specialties in professions where there is an expected shortage of specialists on the labour market, in non-specialized and specialized schools, when the number of students in a class is not less than 10, in cases of transfer of students above the approved school admission plan (up to 3 students above the maximum in a class, and more - with the permission of the Minister of Education and Science), etc. In the classes of the second high school stage of secondary education, the classes in the specialized schools can exist with a minimum number of 13 students. A class with less than 10 students in non-specialized and sports schools in the high school stage can be formed in special cases after permission of the head of the Regional department of education, if additional funds are provided to ensure the learning process beyond the standards for the respective activity.
Students can be divided into groups. In classes where students study different foreign languages and there are more than 25 students in a class, a group is formed with at least 10 students, if this language is not studied in other classes of the same class. VIII class is not divided into groups. For laboratory exercises in chemistry and environmental protection, physics and astronomy, biology and health education, the division is also allowed when there are more than 25 students in a class, and in computer modeling, informatics and information technology - with a minimum of 8 students in a group.
When distance learning or distance learning in an electronic environment of the student is carried out by another school, the training is carried out in groups formed with a minimum number of 15 and a maximum number of 30 students from one class, and the group may include students from different schools. A group with a number of students below the minimum is formed after permission of the Minister of Education and Science at the motivated request of the school principal, agreed with the head of the relevant regional department of education.
Organisation of the School Year
School time is organized in school years and school weeks in two terms.
For students in grades 9th, 10th and 11th it begins on 15th September and finishes on 30th June. It ends in May depending on when the 31st week ends for grade 12th. For administrative services, schools are open throughout the calendar year. During the school year, students take a Christmas, interterm, spring or Easter and summer breaks. The duration of breaks (summer break excluded) and other non-attendance days is specified by an order of the Minister of Education, Youth and Science.
The school year at the extracurricular teaching establishments begins on 1st October and finishes on 31st August. Activities for children are organized during the summer vacation as well.
The school year lasts 36 school weeks for VIII-XI grade and 31 school weeks for XII grade for general education, and for XII grade of vocational - 29 weeks. For the professional and profiled training in the curricula there are two weeks for practical training in X-XII grade and four weeks in the dual system for XI grade. Everything else from the previous period is valid.
Organisation of the school day and week
The number of compulsory hours per week is 32 for grades 9th to 12th. Weekly schedules are not determined on a national level. Each school can make its own schedule The relation between compulsory and core curriculum optional hours is 45% to 80% compulsory education hours. The duration of a school week is five school days.
The organization of a school day is half-day and whole-day and includes from 4 to 7 compulsory teaching hours. Half-day organization may be carried out in two shifts – morning and afternoon.
The weekly schedule of school instruction takes into consideration the psychophysical features and capabilities of students. It is in accordance with the requirements stipulated by an ordinance of the Minister of Health. The duration of a teaching hour is 45 minutes for grades 8th to 12th. Breaks between teaching hours (lessons) may not be shorter than 10 minutes and not longer than 30 minutes. When lessons are organized in two shifts, the school-hour duration may be 40 minutes with permission by the head of the Regional Inspectorate of Education.