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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation of vocational lower secondary education


6.Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary Education

6.4Organisation of vocational lower secondary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Types of Institutions

Right of carrying out training for acquiring professional qualification shall have:

  1. vocational schools, vocational colleges, art schools and vocational training centers;
  2. sports schools;
  3. religious schools - when providing professional training in professional field "Religion";
  4. schools in places of imprisonment;
  5. special schools - correctional boarding schools and social educational boarding schools;
  6. merged schools, secondary schools, specialized high schools, evening schools and special schools – for training and support to students with sensory disabilities, in separate classes in those schools.

The merged schools may provide vocational training for acquiring the first degree of professional qualification and / or for acquiring qualification in a part by profession.

The schools in the places of imprisonment may provide vocational education and training for acquiring first, second and third degree of professional qualification. For the student in places of imprisonment during pre-secondary stage of primary education may also be organized vocational training leading to qualifications in a part of a profession.

In sport schools, art schools, special schools (correctional boarding schools and social educational boarding schools), evening schools and special schools - for training and support of students with sensory disabilities, in some classes they can also acquire the first degree of professional qualification. 
Training for acquiring professional qualification may be carried out by ministries, municipalities, schools for higher education, university and general hospitals, employers' organizations, organizations of workers and employees and individual employers. 

Right to carry out vocational training for acquiring first degree of professional qualification and / or for acquiring of qualification in a part of the profession also shall have the centers for special educational support. Professional knowledge, skills and competencies also can be acquired through formal education and informal learning.

According to data from the National Statistical Institute for the academic year 2019/2020, there were 358 vocational high schools in Bulgaria, 21 art schools, 25 sports schools.

Geographical Accessibility

The characteristics of school distribution at the level of lower secondary vocational education are generally the same as those for basic schools.
Main education providers 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.

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 and majors as close as possible to the specific features of the region, its industrial development and the need for certain specialists for the various branches.

With the exception of the art schools, sports schools and religious schools, the proposals for state and for additional state admission plans shall take into consideration the integrated territorial strategies for the development of regions and plans for integrated development of the respective municipalities, and for national schools – to consider the National concept for regional and spatial development and strategies and programs at national level. Proposals  are agreed upon with the Committee on Employment to the Regional Development Council and the with the regional structures of employers, and with regard to national schools – also with the Minister of Labour and Social Policy and the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works.

Admission Requirements and Choice of School

In order to acquire professional qualification and basic education after completing 6th and 7th grades, students are accepted at vocational schools, and vocational classes at basic, lower secondary and secondary general schools after submission of the required documents. The conditions and regulations for application and enrolment are determined by the school'с pedagogical council.

Age Levels and Grouping of Students

Students within one and the same age form the grades and classes at the upper secondary level in different schools leading to completion of secondary education in the daily form of schooling.

Division into classes and groups for the different academic subjects and the formation of groups from different classes is done within one and the same grade. In the evening form of schooling and in adult education forms, which acquire secondary education, classes and groups are formed by students of different age groups.

The average number of students in one class varies between 18 and 26.

The admission educational level of the candidate shall be a graduated class or a stage of the primary education, a completed initial stage of the primary education or successfully completed literacy course organized by schools within the pre-school and school education system under the order of the Employment Promotion Act or under the Pre-School And School Education Аct, or validated competences for the initial stage of primary education for persons aged 16 years and in cases of continuous vocational training - acquired qualification in part of profession or the acquired degree of professional qualification.

Ordinance № 10 of September 1, 2016 on the organization of activities in school education regulates the state admission plan, the procedure and conditions for admission and the necessary documents.

Organisation of the School Year

School time is organized in school years and school weeks in two terms.

For students it begins on 15th September and finishes on 15th June for grades 7th and 8th. It ends on 30th June for grades 9th,10th,11th. Twelfth graders graduate in May depending on when the 31st week ends. During the school year, students take a Christmas, interterm, spring or Easter and summer break. The duration of breaks (summer vacation 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 break as well.

Due to the need to take measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in order to ensure the life and health of students, teachers and other school staff by Order of the Minister of Education and Science and to compensate for the reorganized learning process, the school year 2020 / 2021 has been extended to compensate for non-school time and will end on June 30, 2021 for students in grades IV - XI.

Organisation of the school day and week

The number of compulsory hours per week is as follows:

  • 30 for 5th to 8th grades;
  • 32 for 9th to 12th grades;

Weekly schedule is not fixed at national level but is at every school’s discretion.
The relation between compulsory and core curriculum optional hours is as follows:

  • for primary school 90% compulsory education hours;
  • for lower secondary 80% to 90% compulsory education hours;
  • for upper secondary 45% to 80% compulsory education hours.

The duration of a school week is 5 school days.

The duration of the class is:

  • forty-five minutes - in V - XII class;
  • forty-five minutes - in teaching practice in the art schools;
  • forty-five minutes - in teaching practice, as well as in specialized training in the field of sports and for active recreation and recovery as a result of training loads in sports schools, all other hours in sports schools are forty minutes;
  • sixty minutes - in production practice;
  • ninety minutes - on production practice in sports schools.

The duration of the lesson can be different in the innovative schools depending on the innovative elements, but not less than the one described above and not more than 60 minutes.