Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education
Types of institutions
Grammar school education is available after the completion of primary education to all under equal conditions and in accordance with their abilities. It lasts four years and ends upon the completion of the state graduation exam. Grammar school programmes provide the acquisition of general competences (knowledge and skills) and are focused on continuing education. They develop general academic capacity and enable the acquisition of basic knowledge and skills in all major scientific fields.
There are five types of grammar school education programmes which differ according to the increase in a number of teaching hours per subject characteristic for the specific programme, namely:
- general education grammar school programme;
- language grammar school programme;
- classical grammar school programme;
- natural sciences and mathematics grammar school programme;
- natural sciences grammar school programme.
One school can provide several different grammar school programmes. Also, there are so-called hybrid schools providing both grammar school and vocational education programmes.
General education grammar school
General education grammar school has a balanced share of all general education subjects, elective subjects being a compulsory part of the curriculum. Therefore, when enrolling in grammar school, students alternatively opt for an ethics or religious education programme. It is compulsory to learn two foreign languages and students, when enrolling, define which foreign language will be their first and which second. The first foreign language is, as a rule, the language that students learned in primary school and will continue to learn in secondary school. Beginner students can also enrol in the second foreign language learning programme.
Language grammar school
The language grammar school curriculum allocates an increased number of school hours to learning foreign languages. In 3rd and 4th grade, students can choose expanded language learning programmes at the expense of one of the natural sciences subjects (biology, chemistry or physics) with the same number of hours. The first foreign language is, as a rule, the language that students learned in primary school and will continue to learn in secondary school. Beginner students can also enrol in the second foreign language learning programme.
Classical grammar school
The specificity of the classical grammar school programme is the learning of Latin and Greek in all four years of education. When enrolling in a classical grammar school, students can choose a "beginning" or "continuing" programme in accordance with their prior knowledge and abilities, as well as availability at school.
Latin and Greek are taught for four years, three hours a week.
Students who have studied Latin for four years and Greek for two years in primary school cannot be enrolled in beginner classes. The continuing programme of the classical grammar school enrols students coming from primary schools with classical classes, who have studied Latin from 5th grade in primary school (four years, three hours a week in total) and Greek from 7th grade in primary school (two years, three hours a week in total). These students in classical grammar school continue to learn these languages for four years, three hours per week.
If primary school students learned only one classical language or did not learn Latin for four years three hours per week or Greek for two years three hours per week, they cannot enrol in continuing but in beginning programmes.
Natural sciences grammar school
Natural sciences grammar school focuses on knowledge in physics, biology and chemistry, and its speciality is hands-on lab work that helps students to understand better natural sciences and encourages independence, creativity, reasoning and linking. Within the elective part of the programme, students can choose to learn a second foreign language or the introduction to ecology.
Natural sciences and mathematics grammar school
Natural sciences and mathematics grammar school allocates more instruction time to mathematics, physics and information technology during all four years, and provides students with the option of expanding the mathematics and information technology programme instead of learning a second foreign language. Students of the natural sciences and mathematics grammar school may opt for an enhanced mathematics or information technology programme instead of a second foreign language.
Schools providing grammar school programmes are present in all counties of the Republic of Croatia. Out of 192, the most are in the City of Zagreb (37), Split-Dalmatia County (25) and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (14).
There are 11 schools providing grammar school programme on the islands. In addition, there are 10 schools in the mountain area that provide grammar school programme.
The National Pedagogical Standards for Secondary Education System (OG No. 63/08, 90/10) set the optimal spatial, personnel, health, technical, informatics and other norms that serve as a guide for ensuring uniform working conditions in educational institutions. The purpose of pedagogical standards is to, based on the prescribed criteria, improve the overall activity on a uniform basis with uniform working conditions of educational institutions. Uniform working conditions are prerequisite for ensuring a higher quality of education. The issues related to children with special educational needs and education for sick children staying in health institutions and for homeschooled children have been specifically regulated.
Article 9. of the Primary and Secondary School Education Act foresees the establishment of a Network of School Institutions and Education Programmes. The network of school institutions for their area is proposed by the founders (local and regional self-government). Following their proposal, the ministry prepares the final proposal of the network for the territory of the Republic of Croatia for which it needs a prior opinion of the National Council for the Development of Human Potential. Following the relevant ministry’s proposal, the network of schools for the territory of the Republic of Croatia is adopted by the Croatian government. The network for school institutions also determines the enrolment area. For secondary schools, the enrolment area is the Republic of Croatia. The network shall be organised in such a way that it meets the expressed needs of the labour market determined by systematic monitoring and forecasting of demographic, economic and urban trends in the area for which it is determined, meets the requirements of accessibility and rational organisation of enrolment areas, i.e. schools and education programmes, and meets the requirements and standards prescribed by national pedagogical standards.
Accessibility implies the possibility of secondary education for the student by using daily transportation or placement in the student dormitory. In accordance with the Law, the Government of the Republic of Croatia, in accordance with the available state budget funds, decides for each school year on the financing or co-financing of transportation for secondary school students.
The Network of Secondary Education Institutions and Programmes, as a permanent developmental document, was adopted in June 2011 (OG No. 70/2011). Among other issues, it determines the school institutions which carry out the secondary education activity, including all the buildings and facilities in which the educational activity takes place. It determines the education programmes for the school institutions, including the programmes for students with difficulties.
In July 2019, the ministry responsible for education issued the "Guidelines for the development of the Network of School Institutions and Education Programmes.” The aim of the guidelines is to analyse the attainment of pedagogical standards in education, to provide a basis for the achievement of optimal working conditions, better utilisation of capacities of school institutions, costs of use and maintenance, as well as rational management of the system of financing, implementation and monitoring of capital investments. The guidelines defined the optimum for secondary schools regarding the number of students.
Admission requirements and choice of school
Enrolment area for secondary school enrolment is the entire territory of the Republic of Croatia. For students with difficulties who attend secondary education in regular schools according to special education programmes, the enrolment area is determined considering the closest school, which carries out the appropriate programme.
The enrolment into 1st grade of secondary school in Croatia is regulated by the Decision on the Enrolment of Students into 1st Grade of Secondary School which is adopted every year by the minister responsible for education and the Ordinance on the Elements and Criteria for the Selection of Candidates for Enrolment into 1st Grade of Secondary School (OG 49/15, 47/17). The Ordinance on the Elements and the Criteria determine the common, additional and special elements and criteria for the selection of candidates for enrolment into 1st grade of secondary school, while the Decision on Enrolment of Students into 1st Grade of secondary School determines the procedure and manner of enrolment, as well as the number of students to be enrolled per class department in secondary school 1st grade. It also prescribes application and enrolment deadlines and other conditions and procedures for enrolment.
Starting from school year 2013/14, students in the Republic of Croatia apply and enrol into 1st grade of secondary school electronically, using the National Information System for Online Application and Enrolment into Secondary Schools (NISOAESS) on the website following a call for applications announced by the schools.
The students apply for enrolment and enrol into 1st grade of secondary school in the summer and autumn enrolment term. The call for applications is announced on the websites and the announcement boards of the secondary schools and their founders. In the summer and fall enrolment term, the candidate may apply for up to 6 education programmes. The candidate prepares the priority list by placing at the top of the list the education programme that he/she most wants to enrol in, and then other programmes in the desired order. Accordingly, the candidate will be optimally allocated to the education programme, which is the highest on his/her priority list, and for which, according to the points earned is within the enrolment quota. When applying for a particular education programme, the candidate must select the first and second foreign language and elective subjects among the offered foreign languages and elective subjects taught in secondary school. On the website www.upisi.hr, from the very beginning of the application process, candidates can monitor the points status for each education programme they applied for.
Children who finished primary education in the current school year as regular primary school pupils in Croatia, log on to the system with their electronic identity (user ID and password) from AAI@EduHr system, which is assigned to them by the administrator of the school directory. Candidates who are finishing or have finished primary education abroad or in other education systems; candidates who did not successfully finish 1st grade of secondary school in Croatia, who signed out of a programme and wish to enrol into 1st grade following another programme; candidates who finished primary education in the previous school-year in Croatia but did not enrol into secondary school) do not have an electronic identity from AAI@EduHr system and must be registered by the Central Application Office of the Agency for Science and Higher Education, based on a registration form filled in by the candidate.
Students who wish to enrol into 1st grade of secondary school and who have primary school completion certificates issued outside Croatia need to start the procedure of recognition of their primary education completion. Following the Act on Recognition of Foreign Educational Qualifications (OG, no. 158/03, 198/03, 138/06 and 45/11), the procedure of recognition of primary education completion abroad, for the purpose of accessing secondary education in Croatian, is carried out by the school into which the applicant wishes to enrol.
List of subjects of particular relevance to each education programme
For the enrolment in the first grades of secondary schools, the candidates are valued and scored a common, additional and special element.
Upon enrolment into grammar school programmes and into four-year education programmes for acquiring vocational qualification the final subject marks from the last two grades of primary education are valued for the following subjects: Croatian language, Mathematics and the first foreign language, as well as the final marks for the three subjects which are considered important for the continuation of education in particular education programmes. Two of the three are mandated and one is defined independently by the secondary school, from the list of compulsory subjects taught in the school. In programmes carried out in the language and script of the national minorities, the subject is usually the language of the minority (mother tongue). The maximum number of points that can be acquired in this manner is 80. In case a candidate’s certificate of completion does not contain a mark for a subject that is important for enrolment application, the mean value of all final marks in the four final grades of primary education is used to determine the number of points for that subject.
The additional element of valuation relates to candidate’s capabilities, talents and knowledge. The capabilities, talents and knowledge are verified and valued based on the examination of special knowledge, skills, capabilities and talents, on the results achieved in knowledge competitions and on the results achieved on schools’ sports competitions.
A particular element of valuation is the success of candidates which they achieved under difficult educational conditions. Applicants will be credited with exercising only one (most favourable) of the following rights: the candidate with health-related difficulties; candidate living with one or both parents with long-term illness, candidate living with long-term unemployed both parents, candidate living with single parent of social welfare beneficiary, candidate whose parent has passed away, candidate without parental or appropriate parental care, candidate who is a member of the Roma national minority.
The elements and criteria prescribed by the Ordinance on the Elements and Criteria for the Selection of Candidates for Enrolment into 1st Grade of Secondary School also apply to the enrolment into international education programmes. For the education programmes lasting a minimum of four years, a school can determine a minimum number of points required for the application of candidates for specific education programmes. The determined minimum number of points required is applied throughout the entire enrolment procedure (summer, fall and subsequent enrolment deadlines).
The total score of the candidates is determined based on the total number of points earned by the candidate based on common, additional and special elements of valuation, including proof of health-related competence for performing working tasks in a chosen occupation, if required for the occupation.
The draft and final ranking lists are published on the website. Based on the total score, the ranking list of the candidates for admission is determined and published on the same page.
Filing a complaint
If a candidate finds any irregularity they can immediately do the following: for incorrectly or incompletely entered marks or personal information, the candidate should immediately inform the class teacher at their primary school. In the case of irregularities in the assessment of the aptitude and talent test, it is necessary to contact the secondary school which administered the exam immediately.
If the information above is not corrected or completed, the candidates have the opportunity to file a complaint using the complaint form available on the website www.upisi.hr.
Following the public announcement of the final ranking lists, students acquire the right to enrol into the highest priority education programme under their enrolment quota. The final ranking lists are not altered.
A student confirms his/her enrolment by personally signing the enrolment form available on the website. The form is also signed by a parent or guardian. A student must submit it to the secondary school in which he/she has acquired the right to enrol within the respective deadline. An enrolment form is a form containing basic information about the education programme or programmes in which the candidate has acquired the right to enrol.
Once the form is signed by a student and his/her parent or guardian and submitted to the secondary school, together with other necessary documentation in accordance with the chapter Calendar, a student is enrolled into 1st grade of secondary school. If a student, due to justifiable reasons, cannot submit the first-grade enrolment form within the deadline, the form must be submitted by his/her parent or guardian.
Candidates who do not submit their enrolment form to secondary school and, if necessary, a certificate from a medical school doctor or a certificate of occupational medicine, or a family doctor's certificate, lose the right to enrol and are referred to the next enrolment deadline.
Age levels and grouping of pupils/students
Full-time students enrol in the first grade of secondary school aged up to 17 (usually 14 or 15). Exceptionally, following approval by the school board, enrolment into 1st grade of secondary school is possible for candidates aged up to 18, or over 18, following approval by the ministry responsible for education. As a rule, students of different ages do not attend the same class of grammar school programmes.
Each class department has, during the four years, one teacher who is its head – the class teacher. A class teacher is a teacher who performs the function of the pedagogical, organisational and administrative head of a class department.
An optimal number of students per class department is 24. A class department can also be formed with only 20 students, but not more than 28, unless specified otherwise by special regulations.
Class departments in schools on islands and in areas of special state concern, in mountain areas, schools with classes in the language and script of national minorities, and private accredited schools can be formed counting a fewer number of students.
The school may, with the approval of the minister responsible for education, increase the number of enrolment places up to 28 students in the class department, in the event that the secondary school student does not pass the remedial exam and repeats first grade (repeat student).
In the event of reduced student interest in enrolling in a particular education programme, the school may set up a class department with fewer students, provided that that class department has at least 20 students.
Schools that carry out tailored and special programmes for students with disabilities may, with the approval of the minister responsible for education, set up a class unit with fewer students.
Organisation of the school year
A school year begins on 1st September and ends on 31st August and consists of two semesters. During a school year, students are entitled to autumn, winter, spring and summer breaks. Educational activity in a secondary school is usually carried out in 175 school days, i.e. 35 school weeks, and for students of final grades in at least 160 school days, i.e. 32 school weeks. The beginning and the end of the school year, the number of workdays and the duration of breaks for students are prescribed by the decision of the minister responsible for education for each year.
The Decision on the Beginning and the End of the School Year, Number of Workdays and Duration of Breaks for Pupils in Primary and Students in Secondary Schools is issued by the ministry responsible for education.
Organisation of school time in primary and general secondary education – 2020/21
Autumn break for students starts on November 2 and ends on November 3, 2020. The first part of the winter holidays starts on December 24, 2020 and runs until January 8, 2021, the second part of the winter holidays starts on February 23 and ends on February 26, 2021. Spring break (Easter) for students begins on April 2, 2021 and ends on April 9, 2021, with classes beginning on April 12, 2021.
Organisation of the school day and week
Education in secondary school is carried out based on the national curriculum, teaching plans and programmes and the school curriculum. Teaching plan for secondary school establishes weekly and an annual number of classes by grade for compulsory and elective subjects, other forms of direct educational work such as additional and remedial classes, extracurricular activities and class period, and extended expert procedure for students with special educational needs.
Classes are carried out through five weekdays. A secondary school can carry out classes for six days in a week if this is required following the spatial, organisational and other working conditions. The organisation in grammar schools in the Republic of Croatia differs from school to school. Work activities in secondary schools are, as a rule, carried out in one shift, but can also be carried out in two shifts. In the case of a morning shift, classes start at 7:30, or 8:00 am, and the afternoon shift at 1:30 or 2:00 pm. A period lasts 45 minutes unless otherwise specified in the curriculum. Exceptionally, the duration of the period may be changed due to special circumstances, with the prior consent of the ministry responsible for education. Students must be provided with a break between periods (the break between two periods is 5 minutes, while after the 3rd period the break lasts 15 or 20 minutes). Student load in education in the language and script of national minorities can be by two to five periods greater than prescribed. The daily duration of periods is determined by a timetable which each grammar school decides for itself.
For secondary school students, the maximum number of periods per school year is 1120, or 32 periods per week, with the exception of programmes where most of the classes are carried out as practical training and exercises. Students included in the classes in the language and script of the national minorities can have a greater load of daily, weekly or annual number of periods, pursuant to the National Pedagogical Standards for Secondary Education System (OG No. 63/2008 and 90/2010).
Teaching is organised in periods and implemented in class departments and educational groups. In accordance with Article 12 of the National Pedagogical Standards for Secondary Education System (OG No. 63/2008 and 90/2010), student load for theoretical classes cannot exceed 6 periods per day, i.e. 30 per week. Student load for practical training in and outside the school cannot exceed 8 periods per day, i.e. 40 per week.
The scope, content and realisation of the extracurricular activities depend on the teaching process in school, depending on the possibility of carrying out whole-day educational work. In cooperation with the local and regional administration bodies, civil society, parents/guardians and others, conditions are ensured for the implementation of programmes and extracurricular activities which the school carries out following its capacities and student interest.
Organisation of Art Education
Types of institutions
Art schools are music, dance, visual arts and other schools that carry out art programmes in accordance with the Art Education Act (OG 130/11).
Secondary art education is carried out during four years, according to the art curriculum. Through secondary art education, students acquire competences (knowledge and skills) to work and continue their education.
It lasts four years and ends with the preparation and presentation of the final work, and the students may take state graduation exams if they wish to continue their education at higher education institutions.
Visual art schools
Students with a strong ability to express themselves in visual arts attend visual arts schools. During their education, students choose professional fields depending on their own preferences and desires. Art education is carried out during four years, according to the art curriculum.
Students enrolled in secondary art schools, or schools that carry out visual arts programmes, complete their education with the preparation and presentation of the final work, and may take state graduation exams if they wish to continue their education at higher education institutions.
Students with strong musical expression skills attend music schools. Music education is provided according to the music curriculum and it lasts four years.
Students enrolled in secondary music schools have a special possibility: they can attend only a music school for the profession of a musician (with a special vocational part of the music school programme they also attend a general education programme of a music school) or they can attend at the same time music school (they attend only a special vocational part of the music school programme) and another four-year secondary school.
If a student attends only a secondary music school, he/she completes his/her education by preparing and presenting his/her final work, and may also take state graduation exams if he/she wishes to continue education at higher education institutions.
Students with a strong ability to express themselves in dance attend dance schools. Dance education is an artistic educational process that integrates students' physical, emotional and intellectual abilities. During education, an artistic personality develops with developed ability to express movement.
Dance education is provided according to the dance curriculum and it lasts four years. Students enrolled in secondary dance schools may attend only a dance school for the profession of a dancer (with a special vocational part of the dance school programme they also attend a general dance school programme), or may also attend a second four-year secondary school.
If a student attends only secondary dance school, he/she completes his/her education by preparing and presenting his/her final work, and may also take state graduation exams if he/she wishes to continue education at higher education institutions.
Art schools are present in all counties of the Republic of Croatia. Out of 54, the most are in the City of Zagreb (16), Split-Dalmatia County (5) and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (5).
There are no schools providing art programme on the islands. Also, there is one school in the mountain area that provides art programme.
For more general information on geographic accessibility, see section 6.1 on grammar school education.
Admission requirements and choice of school
For more information on enrolment and school selection, see section 6.1 on grammar school education.
In addition to the common, additional and special elements and criteria for the selection of candidates for enrolment in the first grade of secondary school, there are also additional examinations of candidates' knowledge and skills for students wishing to enrol in art schools.
The age limits for the enrolment of candidates in individual secondary art education programmes are prescribed by the Art Education Act (OG 130/2011).
Schools of visual arts, music and dance, in addition to evaluating the success of candidates in previous education, also administer a talent examination of candidates for particular types of artistic expression. Art schools publish a call and state the deadlines and location of the talent examination, and all information is also available on the website.
Visual arts and design programmes: For enrolment in visual arts and design programmes, a candidate's talent for artistic expression is examined using drawing (pencil or charcoal) and painting (tempera, gouache or watercolour). With this exam, a maximum of 120 points can be scored, and the minimum threshold for this exam is 70 points.
Music programmes: For enrolment in music programmes with a general education part, candidates are evaluated according to the common, additional and special element of evaluation, general achievement from the fifth and sixth grades of primary music school or two preparatory education grades, and the result obtained on the entrance exam of musical talent. The entrance exam of music talent for instrumentalists and singers includes a test of the basic subject of the profession and solfeggio, for a theorist a test of piano and solfeggio, and for a maker and restorer of instruments, a test of solfeggio and an assessment of the submitted work (made instrument). Based on the entrance exam, the candidate can score a maximum of 170 points, and the minimum threshold in the entrance exam is 70 points. Candidates who enrol in secondary music school at the same time with the second education programme are evaluated in the previous music school (fifth and sixth grade of primary music school or two preparatory education grades) and the result obtained on the entrance exam of musical talent. The threshold for this exam is also 70 points. Candidates who have not attended primary music school but enrol in a music education preparatory programme are only evaluated by the final score on the entrance exam of musical talent (musical hearing, musical memory and musical rhythm), and for the singer-songwriter also by the performance of two vocal compositions of their choice. With the entrance exam, a maximum of 180 points can be scored, and the threshold for this exam is 100 points.
Dance programmes: For enrolment in dance programmes with a general education part, candidates are evaluated according to the common, additional and special element of evaluation, general achievement from the fourth grade of dance or ballet school, or achievement from the preparatory class, and the result obtained on the entrance exam of dance talent, which includes achievement in major dance subjects as determined by the school. Based on the overall performance in the previous dance school and the entrance exam, a candidate may score a maximum of 200 points. Candidates who enrol in secondary dance school at the same time with the second education programme are only evaluated in the general achievement of the fourth grade of dance or ballet school or the achievement in the preparatory class and the result obtained on the entrance exam of dance talent. The threshold for this exam is 70 points. Candidates who enrol in the preparatory programme of dance education are only evaluated by the result obtained at the entrance exam of dance talent, where a maximum of 120 points can be scored. The threshold for this exam is also 70 points.
Application for parallel education programmes: Applicants with appropriate prerequisites have the opportunity to apply for a combination of general education and art education programmes. After choosing a general or art education programme, it is possible to apply for a parallel different art programme. In case of eligibility for enrolment in only one of the programmes from the combination, the candidate may not enrol in any programme from such combination. It is possible to apply for each of these programmes individually so that in case of failure to meet the required prerequisites for enrolment in both programmes from the combination, the candidate will remain in competition for enrolment in each individual programme.
It is also possible to apply for a combination of three parallel education programmes (one general education programme and two art programmes) if the required prerequisites for application are met. In this case, the candidate must enter the enrolment quota of all three combined education programmes and bear the cost of education in another art education programme.
When applying for parallel education programmes, a candidate may apply for up to 6 different general education programmes and up to 6 different parallel art programmes.
Age levels and grouping of students
Pupils aged up to 15 enrol in the first preparatory class of the secondary music school, in accordance with the criteria laid down in the art curriculum.
Pupils aged up to 17 enrol in the first preparatory class of secondary dance school, in accordance with the criteria laid down in the art curriculum. Exceptionally, pupils aged up to 18 can enrol in the first preparatory class of the secondary music school for the profession musician bassoonist, musician tubist and musician double bassist and for the female singer students aged up to 20 and the male singer students aged up to 22.
Students who have completed primary music or dance education or preparatory music or dance education for secondary school have the right to enrol in the first grade of secondary art school and who have fulfilled the criteria prescribed in the art curriculum and passed the entrance exam.
Students enrol in the first grade of secondary art school aged up to 17, and at the latest aged up to 18. Exceptionally, in the first grade of secondary music school for the profession musician bassoonist, musician tubist and musician double bassist can enrol students aged up to 20, and for the profession of female singer students aged up to 22 and male singer up to 24.
Exceptionally, based on demonstrated exceptional talent, with the consent of the teachers' council, enrolment in the preparatory programme of the secondary school, i.e. the first grade of a secondary music or dance school, may be allowed to students who do not meet the above conditions.
For more information on the enrolment of students in the first grade of secondary school see section 6.1 on grammar school education.
Organisation of the school year
For more information, see section 6.1 on grammar school education.
Organisation of the school day and week
For more information, see section 6.1 on grammar school education.
Art education at all levels of art education is carried out based on the national curriculum framework and specific art education curricula. Secondary art education is carried out during four years, according to the art curriculum.