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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisational variations and alternative structures in primary education


5.Primary education

5.4Organisational variations and alternative structures in primary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs implements special programmes and supports alternative educational structures, aiming at providing education which meets the needs of people with different educational, social and cultural backgrounds.

In this context, the following types of schools are in operation:

Experimental schools

The Experimental Schools (PEIS) of the region form the network of Experimental schools. The aim of the Network is to:

  • contribute to the optimal educational planning and the pilot implementation of the educational policy in a random population sample.
  • cultivate and disseminate the best educational methods, practices and tools throughout the educational system.

The network includes Kindergartens, Primary Schools, Gymnasiums and Lyceums.

The aim of experimental schools, in particular, is:

  1. the development of research, creative activities, pilot application and experimentation in curricula, teaching methods, new educational material, printed and digital, new teaching tools, textbooks and innovative teaching practices,
  2. the provision of the possibility of training the teachers of Experimental schools and the teachers of the neighboring school units, (law 4547/2018) in collaboration with the Higher Education Institutes and the Institute of Educational Policy,
  3. the dissemination of experimental educational practices through the organization of seminars and workshops and the development of partnerships between the school units of the group of neighboring schools (law 4547/2018),
  4. the familiarity of undergraduate and postgraduate students with the teaching of individual subjects, in collaboration with HEI departments and schools of education sciences, in the framework of internship programs,
  5. the creation of a fruitful environment for research and collaboration with PhD candidates, in the frame of the elaboration of doctoral dissertations in subjects related to educational sciences
  6. the promotion of research in the teaching of the individual cognitive subjects, as well as in the psycho-pedagogical field, in collaboration with departments and faculties of  the Higher Education Institutes and the Institute of Educational Policy,
  7. the creation of creativity and innovation groups, in which students from other schools of public education can participate
  8. the pilot implementation of programs in order to evaluate the quality of the educational work and the material and technical infrastructure of school units,
  9. the collaboration with the Higher Education Institutes, either domestic or foreign; research bodies and public benefit institutions. The content and the process of the cooperation of PEIS with Schools or Departments of Higher Education Institutes is determined by a decision of the Minister of Education which is issued after a suggestion of Steering Committee for Model and Experimental Schools and the Senate of the relevant Higher Education Institute.
  10. the experimentation in ways of operating and managing the school. 

At national level, the administration bodies of model and experimental schools are the same as public schools.

  • In addition, the Steering Committee for Model and Experimental Schools (DEPPS): ensures the implementation of the educational policy of Experimental Schools.
  • Recommends to the Minister of Education the establishment, characterization and declassification of PEIS.
  • Approves the modification of the syllabus and schedule, the research activities and the cooperation with HEIs and Research bodies of PEIS.
  • Promotes and promotes the work performed in PEIS.

Further than that, the Scientific Supervisory Board of each Experimental School is responsible for the pedagogical and scientific guidance of these schools in the design and implementation of their specific activities.

All experimental schools follow the timetable of non-experimental schools. This can be reformulated after the opinion of the Scientific Supervisory Board, the Institute of Educational Policy and a decision of the Steering Committee for Model and Experimental Schools (DEPPS).

The PEIS can operate creativity and innovation groups in which students from other schools of public education can participate and relate to individual fields of knowledge, thematic or creative activities.

Students get accepted in experimental schools by draw and the possibility of exceptional admission for reasons of kinship by special electronic lottery. The implementation of the draw procedure is determined by a Common Ministerial Decision 22010/Δ6/2023, which is issued on the recommendation of DEPPS and the opinion of the IEP in order to ensure the integrity.  

The possibility of a student's participation in the draw for admission to a CPC is irrespective of their place of residence. The participation of the teachers of PEIS is counted to cover their teaching schedule.

The provisions of general education apply to the assessment and promotion of pupils of experimental schools, too.

Teachers are placed in the PES with a term of office which is renewed after a positive evaluation.

When there is a need to fill vacancies in the PEIS or it is done after the announcement of the DEPPS, it announces a process of classification of the candidate teachers, who are classified in an evaluation table based on selection criteria evaluated by the Regional Committee of Standards and Experimental Schools. The evaluation table is ratified by and the DEPPS and based on this the teachers are placed in office by decision of the Head of the General Directorate of Primary and Secondary Education of the Ministry of Education.

In Greece, from the school year 2022-23 there are 34 Experimental Primary Schools and 18 Experimental Pre-primary Schools. In each region there is at least one Experimental Primary and Kindergarten.

School of european education

Law 3376/2005 established the School of European Education (SEE) in Crete. SEE runs a preschool education cycle, besides primary and secondary education cycles. The school follows the curricula of European schools.

SEE includes pupils from:

  1. Employees of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) or any other European Union services personnel.
  2. Employees of international organisations and diplomatic services in Heraklion, Crete.
  3. Graduates from the primary education cycle of the School of European Education.
  4. Pupils transferred from other European schools or European Education schools (type II)
  5. Pupils residing in the wider region of the specific school.

There are two language sections (Greek and English). Children, whose mother tongue is other than Greek or English, take an exam in the language of the section they wish to enroll. The test determines whether their language level will allow them to attend the specific language section.

As regards the timetable, the teaching methods, the assessment and the progress of pupils, the general framework for the operation of European schools is applied. 

Schools of special education and training

Nipiagogeia (pre-primary schools)

Children with disabilities and special educational needs may attend pre-primary schools of special education and training until they are 7 years old.

Presidential Decree 301/1996 established a general Special Education Detailed Curriculum framework. However, depending on the special educational needs of pupils, special education school units (SMEAE) may use the tailored detailed curriculum of general education or even a mixed system of the two above.

Ministerial Decision 85317/Δ3/29-05-2019  defines the timetable of special education nipiagogeia.  This includes organised inter-disciplinary and experiential activities, individualised educational programmes (EPE), free or structured play and breakfast.  The aim is the development of the communicative, cognitive, social and emotional skills of pupils.

The compulsory timetable of special education nipiagogeia is 25 teaching hours per week.  However, all special education pre-primary schools may operate all day. In addition to the above, the 94189/Δ3/03-08-2021 Ministerial Decision shaped the timetable of the special kindergarten by introducing the teaching unit entitled: Skills Labs. The Skills Labs/workshops are compulsorily implemented three (3) teaching hours per week, divided into two (2) to three (3) times a week.

More information is available in Chapter 12.2.  

Dimotika scholeia (primary schools)

In cases where the attendance of pupils with disabilities and special educational needs in schools of the common educational system and in reception classes is especially  difficult, due to the type and level of their impediment, the education of these pupils can be provided through:

  1. School units of special education (dimotika scholeia EAE)
  2. Schools or classes which operate either individually or as branches of other schools in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, youth education institutes, institutes of chronic disease or services of education of rehabilitation of the mental health units, as long as there are individuals of school age with disabilities or special educational needs staying there
  3. Home tutoring, if necessary, due to severe temporary or chronic conditions.

The distribution of students in classes in Primary Schools of Special Education can be done in the following ways:

  1. by class (Preliminary, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th grade), 
  2. per grade: an introductory grade for the Preliminary grade; a Lower grade for grades 1 and 2;, a Middle grade for grades 3 and 4; an Upper grade for 5 and 6 grade) or 
  3. per level (Introductory, Lower, Middle and Upper grade), independently of the class enrolment  or the entry of the pupils in the school’s progress register book. The criteria used include diagnosis, learning readiness, pupils’ behavior, special characteristics and the dynamics of the group created. The aim is that of setting up opportunities that best serve the special educational needs of students.

The Curriculum is issued on the basis of Ministerial Decision 85317/Δ3/29-05-2019.  According to the latter, the school teachers' board decides upon the implementation of the appropriate detailed curriculum for each grade and level.

For the selection of the suitable detailed curriculum, the special educational needs of pupils are taken into consideration.  It is decided whether to use the Special Education Detailed Curriculum framework (PAPEA) or the Cross-thematic Framework of Curriculum (DEPPS) and the Detailed Curriculum (APS) of primary school or even a combination of the pedagogical principles and educational goals entioned above.

Tailored curricula (EPE) are designed and implemented for each pupil.  The following are taken into consideration, when issuing them:

  1. The evaluation reports of the ΚΕDΑSY  (Interdisciplinary Assessment, Counseling and Support Centers)

  2. The evaluation and suggestions of educators and special educational personnel (EEP) members.
  3. The interests and inclinations of pupils.
  4. The views of parents, who are informed and state their opinions.

During the school year, classroom teachers, specialized teachers and EEP and special auxiliary personnel (EBP) members, who teach or support specific pupils organize pedagogical meetings, in order to plan and define the suitable objectives and corresponding activities, as well as the formative and final assessment of the tailored curricula (EPE). At any step deemed necessary by the Director or Headmaster or the Teachers' Association of the school, the assistance of the relevant KESY is requested.

All special education primary schools may operate all day.

Further information regarding admission criteria, program of activities and methodological emphasis, curriculum, assessment and progression of pupils, is available in chapter 12.2.

Minority primary schools

In Greece, minority education concerns the demarcated Muslim minority of Thrace. This includes exclusively the residents of Thrace in the population registers, that is, Greek citizens, who are Muslims, descendants of the non-exchange populations (Greece-Turkey) under the Treaty of Lausanne.

The same Treaty established the minority educational system. The latter is accompanied by subsequent educational protocols and defined by the Greek legislation.

The curriculum of these schools is bilingual. Time is distributed equally between the Greek and Turkish language. These two languages are both languages of instruction, as well as taught subjects.

The bilingual curriculum is in accordance with the curricula of the public schools of the country. However, emphasis is on the preservation, development and promotion of the cultural and linguistic background of the minority.

The detailed curriculum and timetable of primary minority education is a mix of the detailed curriculum and timetable of general education and that of minority education. In particular, Ministerial Decision103672/Ζ2/Α.Σ.781/4-12-2006 reformulated the curriculum of minority schools. 

Pupils’ assessment is carried out for both courses taught in Greek and courses taught in Turkish, according to the provisions governing the assessment of pupils in mainstream primary schools. The same rules also apply for the progression of pupils.

There are 115 minority primary schools operating in Greece.

Intercultural primary education schools

The main objectives of intercultural primary education schools are:

  • Inclusion in education.
  • Social inclusion for immigrant children on the value of equity and respect for their cultural identity.
  • Tackling cultural and racist discrimination and xenophobia.

The curricula implemented are the same as those of mainstream public primary schools. However, they are adapted to the special educational, social, cultural and instructional needs of pupils.

Under law 4415/2016, these schools operate as experimental intercultural education schools. They pursue collaborations with Greek Universities and implement experimental educational programs related to intercultural education and education and social exclusion regardless of race or cultural background.

Intercultural primary schools and mainstream primary schools follow the same rules as regards assessment and promotion of pupils.

There are 13 Intercultural primary education schools across the country.