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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education


6.Secondary and post-secondary higher education

6.1Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Types of institutions

General lower secondary education is provided in gymnasia (lower secondary schools). Attendance lasts 3 years. It consists of grades A, B and C.

Students follow a common curriculum, without any differentiations.

In addition, some lower secondary schools offer an experimental curriculum or are oriented towards students with specific inclinations or educational needs.

The schools which provide compulsory secondary education and lead to the relevant certificates are the following:

Day lower secondary schools

Imerisia gymnasia (day lower secondary schools) are the main providers of general compulsory secondary education. They are attended by the majority of students in secondary education.  They constitute over 90% of the educational institutions providing general compulsory secondary education.

In Greece, there are 1428 day lower secondary schools.

Evening lower secondary schools

Esperina gymnasia (evening lower secondary schools) are attended by students over 14 years old, who are employed.  Attendance lasts 3 years. They include 3 grades: A, B and C. The latter fully correspond to those of day lower secondary schools.

There are 44 evening lower secondary schools.

Model and experimental lower secondary schools

According to Law 4692/2020, the Model Schools and the Experimental Schools are established and operate in order to contribute to the optimal educational planning and the pilot implementation of the educational policy, in order to cultivate and disseminate the best educational methods, practices and tools throughout the education system. Model Schools of the territory form the network of model schools. Experimental Schools of the territory constitute a network. For the rest, Model Schools and Experimental Schools serve together with other schools the purposes of education and are administratively subordinated to the relevant Directorate of Education. 

Specifically, according to article 11 of law 4692/2020, the Model Schools are schools of secondary public education, which aim at cultivating and disseminating the idea and practices of excellence in the education system. According to article 12 of law 4692/2020, Experimental Schools are school units, which aim at supporting the experimentation and the pilot application of educational innovations in the educational system, in a random sample of the student population. Such may be primary and secondary public education schools. 

The Steering Committee of Model and Experimental Schools is established at national level by decision of the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs with the responsibility to: 

  • implement the educational policy regarding Model Schools & Experimental Schools 
  • propose to the Minister of Education & Religious Affairs on issues, such as the establishment of Model Schools or Experimental Schools, designation of schools as Model Schools or Experimental Schools, implementation of a draw procedure for admission to Experimental Schools & exams or skills test for admission to Model Schools, classification and selection of candidates for placement in Model Schools & Experimental Schools as teachers 
  • establish of Regional Committees of Model & Experimental Schools and Scientific Supervisory Boards  of Model Schools & Experimental Schools 
  • approves research activities of Model Schools & Experimental Schools & their cooperation with Higher Education Institutions, research bodies and public benefit institutions 
  • carry out external evaluation of Model Schools & Experimental Schools, in collaboration with the Institute of Educational Policy & HEI.

A Regional Committee of Model and Experimental Schools is established in each Regional Directorate of Education with the responsibility to: 

  • prepare evaluation tables for the ranking of the candidates for placement in Model Schools and Experimental Schools. 
  • select teachers of Model and Experimental Schools.

The governing bodies of Model Schools and Experimental Schools, which are responsible for their daily operation, are:

  • The principle, 
  • The Deputy Director and 
  • τhe Teachers' Association. 

The Scientific Supervisory Board Model Schools and Experimental Schools is responsible for the pedagogical and scientific direction of the school, within which it plans its research and training activities.

The admission of students to the Experimental lower secondary schools is done by drawing lots, in order to achieve a random sample of students. Α decision of the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, which is issued after the suggestion of the Steering Committee of Model and Experimental Schools and the opinion of the IEP, determines each specific issue regarding the application process, the implementation of the lottery process, the time of its implementation, ensuring the integrity of the procedure and the possibility of exceptional admission for reasons of kinship by special lottery. 

The admission of students to the first grade of the Model lower secondary schools takes place after examinations or a test (test) of skills. A decision of the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, which is issued after the suggestion of the Steering Committee of Model and Experimental Schools and the opinion of the IEP determines any specific issue regarding the type of exams or the test (skills), the process of submitting applications for participation in the exams, the procedure, the time and the bodies responsible for conducting the examinations and ensuring the integrity of the process and the results. The selection of the students concerns the introductory school class (A 'class of the Gymnasium), while the school course of the students from the Gymnasium (lower secondary school) to the Lyceum (upper secondary school) of these schools is subject only to the in-school final examinations.

For the school year 2020-21, regarding the admission of students to the Experimental and Model schools, the relevant provisions of law 4692/2020 apply. 

The number of Model lower secondary schools operating throughout the country is 19, while the Experimental lower secondary schools are 19.

Music schools

The purpose of the Music schools is to prepare and train young people who wish to follow the professional direction of music, without falling behind in general education, if they finally choose another scientific or professional field (ministerial decision 3345/Γ2/2-9-1988).

According to the Ministerial Decision 106689 / Δ2 / 18-8-2020, the total number of hours of general education courses and Music Education courses amounts to 42, on a weekly basis, for all classes of the Music lower secondary school. As is the case with Music lower secondary schools, the promotion of Music lower secondary school students to music education courses is a condition for their stay in this school, regardless of whether the students have been promoted to the next grade, according to what is in force in General Education lower secondary schools. 

Students, graduates of Primary schools, are enrolled in the Music Gymnasiums, following a selection by a special committee set up for each Music School separately. The subjects in which the prospective students are evaluated for their enrollment in the first grade of High School of the Music School are: Rhythm, Acoustic ability, Vocal ability, Timbre distinction and optionally a Musical Instrument (European or traditional), at least at a level corresponding to the Lower School (Ministerial decision 20923/Δ2/23-2-2021).

The number of music schools is 51.

Art schools

The Art Schools were established by law 3194/2003 and include the directions: 

  1. Fine arts 
  2. Theater - cinema 
  3. Dance. 

The purpose of the Art Schools is to familiarize, prepare, encourage and support students' interest in the arts, as well as to cultivate and educate their skills. 

The program of the Art schools includes in addition to the general education courses of the General upper secondary school and art education courses of the three directions. 

The schedule of the Art lower secondary schools is expanded and is adjusted to 40 hours per week (Ministerial Decision 106696 / Δ2 / 18-8-2020). 

Students graduating from Primary schools are enrolled in the first grade of the Artistic Gymnasiums by choice (entrance exams). Each student can be a candidate in one or two directions. Students who succeed in two directions, enroll in the direction that scores the highest score. 

The number of Art Schools that operate in the whole country amounts to 9.

General ecclesiastical lower secondary schools

General ecclesiastical secondary schools are established and operate in order that  students attending them can have a deeper understanding of the ecclesiastical, spiritual and cultural Eastern Orthodox Christian Church. This type of secondary school aims at students being able to:

  1. bulid a comprehensive educational background, a complete knowledge and understanding of the Orthodox Christianity as an ecclesiastical and cultural tradition as well as its place and mission in modern-day world,
  2.  widen the major aspects of ecclesiastical teachings, worship, spirituality, art, tradition and life and become aware of their dynamics,
  3. understand the need for mutual respect and dialogue between different religious communities and traditions to the benefit of social and religious peace
  4.  consolidate the need for protection of the natural and cultural environment.
  5. fully realise the need to protect both the natural and cultural environment

General ecclesiastical secondary schools follow the analytical timetable of public general Secondary education,including subjects of ecclesiastical specialization.

There are 6 Ecclesiastical Secondary Schools throughout the country.

Lower secondary schools of special education and training 

According to law 3699/2008, the special education lower secondary schools include the preliminary class and the next three classes A', B', C'. Primary school graduates with disabilities and special educational needs can be enrolled directly in the A class of the lower secondary school of special education and training, after an evaluation carried out by the relevant ΚΕDDΥ (Center for differential diagnosis and support for special educational needs).

The timetable programs for the 3 classes of special education upper secondary schools are based on the Ministerial Decision 83315 / Δ3 / 30-6-2020

The number of public special education lower secondary schools amounts to 9. 

More information is available in Chapter 12.

Minority lower secondary schools 

The minority education provided in Greece concerns the demarcated Muslim minority of Thrace, which includes exclusively the registered residents of Thrace, Greek citizens, Muslims by religion, descendants of the non-exchanged populations (Greece-Turkey) with the signature of the Treaty of  Lausanne.

The minority education system in Greece is based on the Treaty of Lausanne, is assisted by the provisions of subsequent Educational Protocols and is defined by Greek law. The following is a bilingual teaching program, distributing the time between the Turkish and Greek languages in an absolutely equal way, with the two languages being, except for the languages of instruction and the subject of instruction.

The bilingual curriculum is developed in agreement and correspondence with the curricula of other public schools in the country, but with an emphasis on preserving, cultivating and promoting the linguistic and cultural background of the minority.

There are currently two Minority lower secondary schools in Thrace.

Intercultural education lower secondary schools

With the aim of the educational and social integration of children of immigrant origin in the context of equality and with respect for the preservation of their cultural identity, the treatment of negative discrimination based on cultural differences, xenophobia and racism, Intercultural Education Schools operate. 

These schools, according to law 4415/2016, are provided to operate as Experimental Schools of Intercultural Education and seek cooperation with universities in the country. They implement on an experimental basis research and innovative programs related to intercultural education and the treatment of educational and social exclusion due to racial origin and cultural origin. Curricula and pedagogical methods are applied as in the existing Experimental Schools. 

The number of Intercultural Gymnasiums is 8.

School of European education 

The School of European Education was founded in Crete based on law 3376/2005. The school fully follows the curricula taught in European Schools and covers Kindergarten, Elementary, Lower secondary and Upper secondary school. 

This includes: 

  1. Children of staff of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) or other European Union agency 
  2. Children of the staff of International Organizations and Diplomatic Missions based in Heraklion, Crete 
  3. Graduates of the primary education cycle
  4. Students coming with transfer from other European schools or European Education schools (type II) 
  5. Students who live in the wider district of the specific school, in the vacant places, after a draw. 

There are two language departments in the School, Greek and English. Students whose mother tongue is not included in the language departments that operate must be tested in the language of the department of their choice to determine if their knowledge of the language of instruction of that language department is at a level that allows them to attend that language department. 

The general framework for the operation of European schools applies to the curricula, teaching methods and the evaluation and promotion of students.

Second chance schools 

Second chance schools  were established by law 2525/97 as a flexible adult education program that enables those who have passed through the education system, before completing their compulsory education, to continue their studies and obtain a degree equivalent to the lower secondary school diploma.

The purpose of Second chance schools, according to law 4763/2020, is: 

  • the completion of the compulsory education of persons aged eighteen years and over
  • the reconnection of trainees with education and training systems, 
  • the acquisition of modern knowledge, skills and attitudes that will help them in social economic integration and development, 
  • strengthening learners' self-esteem and 
  • the contribution to their integration or to the improvement of their position in the workplace. 

Attendance at Second chance schools & Curriculum: 

According to law 4763/2020: 

  • The right to enroll in Second chance schools are those who: a) have completed the eighteenth (18) year of age by December 31 of the year of registration or have exceeded the eighteenth (18) year of age and b) have not completed the compulsory nine-year education and have a high school diploma. 
  • The duration of training is set at two (2) school years. 
  • The curriculum is open and flexible and aims to provide knowledge and develop skills and attitudes. The core of the curriculum consists of the literacy subjects, which are in line with the eight core competencies of the European Framework of Reference.

There are 86 Second chance schools throughout the country, 12 of which operating in Detention Facilities.

Geographical accessibility

In order to ensure the provision of secondary education to students of even the most remote regions, attempts are made for the geographical distribution of lower secondary education schools according to the needs and specificities of local conditions.  In general, the establishment and operation of lower secondary education schools is the result of cooperation, recommendations and suggestions of the local community and the competent educational authorities.

The responsibility for the transportation of students living in remote areas, according to ministerial decision 50025/26-09-2018, as amended and in force falls within the region in which the school is based.  In particular, the regions offer free transportation to students of public lower secondary education schools, either via free student travel cards and transportation by own means for distances 2,500 meters for students attending Lower secondary schools,  and under public contract for provision of services for 3,000 meters for Lower secondary schools students ministerial decision 53173/11-08-2022.

Admission requirements and choice of school

Attendance at lower secondary education school is compulsory.  In order to enrol in lower secondary education schools, students must hold a primary education qualification.

Students attend the lower secondary education school in the region of their permanent residence.  In cities where several schools operate, the boundaries of the areas of each school, as well as the maximum number of students are determined by decision of the director of secondary education.  Since school jurisdiction areas cannot be established under the jurisdiction of one single education director, they are defined by decision of the regional director of education.

Age levels and grouping of pupils/students

Attendance at lower secondary education schools lasts 3 years and consists of grades A, B and C. Students enroll in grade A at the age of 12, after they graduate from primary school.  Enrolment may sometimes extend beyond that age, for example for students who have to repeat the school year at the primary level.  Attendance is compulsory, so long as the student has not exceeded 16 years of age (law 1566/1985).

Each grade consists of one or more classes, depending on the number of students, while the number of students. Classes cannot consist of 25 pupils and above. Classes with 25 pupils and above are divided into groups a new law 4610/2019

The English Language teaching in gymnasio follows a diagnostic test in grade A.  If there are gaps in the foreign language competence of students, they are placed accordingly in two levels (ministerial decision 135800/Δ2/23-08-2016).

As regards the second foreign language (French or German), students are divided in classes that run in parallel. In Gymnasio, where a single class of general education operates, A grade students are taught the second foreign language chosen by the majority of students (or which gets the most votes) (ministerial decision 53476/ΓΔ4/28-03-2017).

Finally, concerning the subject Technology and IT, the class is divided into two groups, when the number of students exceeds 21 (ministerial decision 74442/Δ2/19-6-2020).

In gymnasio, the teaching of specific subjects, as described in the detailed curricula, is conducted by teachers specialized in the respective subject.  For example, the teaching of history is entrusted to a Greek language and literature teacher, mathematics to a mathematician, physics to a physics teacher, etc.

For the smooth operation of the school unit and if necessary, teachers are sometimes assigned the teaching of subjects/classes related to their specialization, such as the assignment of history to a foreign language teacher (ministerial decision 85980/Δ2/03-7-2020). 

Organisation of the school year

The organization of the school year for lower secondary education is defined at central level.  The school year begins on 1 September and ends on 31 August of the following year.

The academic year for schools begins on 1 September and ends on 30 June.

The teaching of subjects runs through two academic periods called terms. The first term lasts from 11 September to 20 January.  The second term begins on 21 January and ends with the end of the lessons.  Written exams are carried out from 1 September until the beginning of classes, when this period is foreseen.  Between 1 and 30 June, schools deliver:

  • The first period of exams, which includes written follow-up revision exams on group A subjects (subjects taught in gymnasia fall under 3 groups).

According to presidential decree 126/2016:

The first group (group A) includes the following subjects: 

  1. Modern Greek Language and Literature (language teaching and modern Greek literature) 
  2. Ancient Greek Language and Literature (ancient Greek language, ancient Greek translated texts 
  3. History 
  4. Mathematics 
  5. Physics 
  6. Biology 
  7. English

The second group (group B) includes the following subjects: 

  1. Geology-Geography 
  2. Chemistry
  3.  Civics 
  4. RE
  5.  Second Foreign Language
  6.  Technology – IT 
  7. Home Economics

The third group (group C) includes the following subjects:

  1. Music – Art 
  2. PE
  3. Skill development workshops

The teaching unit entitled “Skill development workshops” is being introduced in the school curriculum and the weekly timetable of all types of compulsory education school units,  nursery schools, primary schools and lower secondary schools with a view to reinforcing the development of  students’ mild skills, life skills as well as technology and science skills . A decision of the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, issued following a relevant proposal submitted by the Institute of Educational Policy, specifies the number, the duration and the content of the thematic cycles of each teaching  unit as well as those of the thematic units each thematic cycle comprises, the number and the specializations of  teachers who will be teaching the  said  thematic cycles and units , students’ assessment procedure and any other relevant issue, including the organization and implementation of relevant educational as well as supporting activities for the teachers involved.

During the first ten days of September and before the next school year starts, students participate in the second examination period and re-sit follow-up revision exams on subjects for which their annual performance grade is below ten (10), provided that the number of these subjects does not exceed (4). For Group A subjects, follow-up revision exams are both oral and written. For Group B and Group C subjects, follow-up revision exams are only oral.

No teaching and exams take place during the Christmas holidays (two weeks), Easter holidays (two weeks) and summer holidays (from 1 July to 31 August).

During the summer holidays, each gymnasio is open once a week for administrative purposes.

The days of operation of school units are approximately 189 annually.  They are organized in weeks of 5 days (Monday to Friday).  The number of teaching hours on a weekly basis amount to 33 hours for grades A and B and to 34 hours for grade C for day lower secondary schools and to 24 hours for grades A and B  and to 25 hours for grade C for evening lower secondary Schools.

 Timetables are set based on the detailed curricula by ministerial decisions and apply to all general lower secondary education schools of the country.  Details on the timetables of general lower secondary education schools can be found in the section "Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education". 

Other types of lower secondary education schools follow a slightly modified timetable, like art or music schools that apart from the established curriculum, students are also taught art or music subjects respectively.

Organisation of the school day and week


Days of teaching

Teaching hours

Classes (beginning and ending)

Duration of teaching hours








08:15 - 09:00




09:05 - 09:50




10:00 - 10:45




10:55 - 11:40




11:50 - 12:35




12:45 - 13:25




13:30 - 14:10




Days of teaching

Teaching hours

Classes (beginning and ending)

Duration of teaching hours

Duration of intervals







19:20 - 20:00




20:00 - 20:40




20:50 - 21:30




21:40 - 22:20




22:20 - 22:55



Remedial teaching classes (ministerial decision 109161/Δ2/8-9-2022) operate in lower secondary education schools in order to:

  • Reintegrate students in the learning process
  • Facilitate students to improve their performance in order to complete attendance of the levels of compulsory Education 
  • Reduce early dropouts
  • Increase percentage of access in upper secondary education

The term 'remedial teaching' means the attendance of gymnasio students of an autonomous support teaching programme at the end of the daily mainstream timetable.  Students can attend the following subjects:

  1. Modern Greek Language and Literature
  2. Ancient Greek Language and Literature
  3. Maths
  4. Physics
  5. Chemistry
  6. English Language.

Remedial education operates every school year and ends when all school classes end, before the beginning of exams.

Remedial education is implemented in compensatory education (antistathmistiki ekpaidefsi) school centres. These school centres are staffed by groups of neighbouring lower secondary school units. The centres are appointed in each Directorate of Secondary Education by the Regional Directors of Primary and Secondary Education. A single compensatory education school centre is possible to consist of one single school unit of lower Secondary Education under specific circumstances (inaccessible, remote areas of island or mainland). Remedial education is provided in every school year and ends upon completion of lessons and the beginning of exams.

In every school unit besides school classrooms, auxiliary classrooms, gym, event spaces, library  ,science lab and IT lab are provided. Every class has their own classroom per teaching year while the remaining facilities are used in turn by different classes depending on the weekly schedule needs or extraordinary events.