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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Secondary Education


6.Secondary and post-secondary higher education

6.13Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Secondary Education

Last update: 27 November 2023

The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs implements special programmes and supports alternative educational structures. The aim is to provide education which meets the needs of people with different educational, social and cultural background.

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

Model and experimental schools

According to law 4610/2019, protypa kai peiramatika scholeia (model and experimental schools) are educational units that contribute to the educational planning and pilot implementation of the educational policy, in order to cultivate the best educational methods, practices and tools throughout the educational system.

The aim of these schools is to cover educational needs related to research, training and the exchange of good practices.

At national level, the school head, the deputy school head and the school teachers' board are the administration bodies of model and experimental schools.

The scientific supervisory board (EPES) provides pedagogical and scientific guidance during the planning and implementation of the schools' experimental activities.

The admission of students to the first grade of the model High School takes place after examinations or a test of skills. Any specific issue regarding the type of exams or test (skills), the process of submitting applications for participation in the examinations, the procedure, the time and the competent bodies for conducting the examinations and ensuring the integrity of the process and the results are all determined by decision of the Minister of Education and Religion Affairs, issued after the  recommendation of the DEPPS (Administrative Committee of Model and Experimental Schools) and the opinion of the IEP (Institute of Educational Policy).

Students get accepted in experimental schools exclusively by draw in order to achieve as random a sample of students as possible. The scientific supervisory board (EPES) is responsible for the implementation of the draw procedure together with the school head, the school teachers' board and the parents' association.

The selection of students concerns the first year of entry (that is grade A of gymnasio).  Student progression from gymnasio to lykeio of these schools depends on school graduation exams.

For school year 2020/21, law 4692/2020 defines the regulations on the entry of students in model and experimental schools.

The number of model gymnasia is 19, while experimental gymnasia are 16.

The number of model lykeia is 18, while experimental lykeia are 13.

Music schools

Mousika scholeia (music schools) aim at preparing and training students who wish to follow a career in music.  At the same time, they provide general education in case students eventually decide to pursue a career in another scientific or professional field (ministerial decision 3345/Γ2/2-9-1988).

Music school students attend general education classes just as students of day lower and upper secondary schools. They also attend music classes which amount to 13-14 hours depending on the class.

According to ministerial decision 106689/δ2/18-8-2020, curently in effect, the teaching hours of general and music education subjects for all grades (gymnasio and lykeio) is 42 hours per week.

Progression in music classes is a prerequisite for all pupils who wish to study in music schools, even if their performance in general education classes is good enough to progress to the following grade, according to the legislation in force regarding general education.

Students who have completed primary education have the right to enrol in music lower secondary schools, following a selection procedure conducted by a special committee, whose composition is specific to each school.

The subjects in which candidates are assessed are: rhythm, music dictation, vocal competence, timbre distinction and, optionally, competence in a musical instrument (European or traditional); a minimum beginner competency level is required (Ministerial decision 20923/Δ2/23-2-2021).  

Graduates from the relevant lower secondary music schools enrol in grade Α of upper secondary music schools.  Other general lykeio graduates (successful in graduate admission examinations) can also enrol, if there are vacancies.

There are 51 music lower secondary schools and 48 upper secondary music school in the country.

Art schools

Kallitechnika scholeia (art schools) were founded, according to law 3194/2003.  They include the following study fields:

  • Visual arts
  • Drama - film
  • Dance. 

The primary purpose of art schools is to encourage students to pursue their interest in arts through preparatory learning programmes that help them build and develop their skills and inclinations. They also aim at training students who wish to follow a career path in theatre, dance or visual arts, without lagging behind in general education, if they finally choose another scientific or vocational sector.

In addition to general education subjects, art schools deliver courses for all the above 3 study fields.

Taught times for art schools have been extended and they amount to 40 hours a week (ministerial decision 154132/Δ2/29-11-2021). 

In order to enrol in grade A of art gymnasio, primary school graduates are required to sit entrance examinations.  Each student may apply for more than one area of specialisation. In case students are successful in both, they enrol at the specialisation in which they scored the highest.

Art gymnasio graduates and/or other gymnasio students (through graduate admission examinations) are entitled to enrol in grade A of art lykeio.

There are currently 9 lower secondary art schools in Greece. 

Ecclesiastical 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. acquire a complete educational  contex , 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 and
  4. consolidate the need for protection of the natural and cultural environment.

General ecclesiastical secondary schools follow the analytical timetable of public general Secondary education as it is modified according  to a  relevant decision of the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs following a relevant proposal submitted by the Supervision council of ecclesiastical education ( ESEE) and the opinion of the Institute of educational policy (IEP) so that subjects of ecclesiastical specialization contributing to the achievement of both  the general and the specific cause of Ecclesiastical Schools  are included.

General ecclesiastical upper secondary schools follow the same timetable as the one implemented in the public general upper secondary Education, as modified pursuant to a relevant decision of the Minister of education and religious affairs, following a relevant proposal submitted by the Supervisory council for ecclesiastical education (ESEE) and the relevant opinion of the Institute of educational policy (ΙΕP) The timetable may be extended with  the addition of extra teaching  hours exclusively intended for ecclesiastical  specialization subjects, with the total teaching hours amounting to no more than forty-two (42) hours per week. In grade C the extra teaching hours are exclusively dedicated to group orientation subjects.

Ecclesiastical lykeio graduates receive a qualification equivalent to this of general lykeia.  Hence, they can participate in the existing entry system for higher education.

In Greece, there are 6 ecclesiastical general lykeia-gymansia and 8 ecclesiastical lykeia.

Minority schools

In Greece, minority education targets 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 conservation, development and promotion of the cultural and linguistic background of the minority.

In Thrace, there are two meionotika gymnasia and two meionotika lykeia in operation.

Intercultural schools

The main objectives of scholeia diapolitismikis ekpaidefsis (intercultural education schools) are:

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

Under law 4415/2016, these schools may operate as experimental intercultural education schools.  They pursue collaborations with higher education institutes (HEIs).

They implement experimental research and innovative educational programmes related to intercultural education and tackling social exclusion regardless of race or cultural background.  Curricula and teaching methods are implemented in the manner of the existing experimental schools.

There are 8 intercultural gymnasia and 5 intercultural lykeia in operation.

School of european education

The School of European Education (SEE) - scholeio evropaikis paideias is based in Crete (law 3376/2005).  The school strictly adheres to the curricula taught in European schools.  It covers pre-primary, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education.

Details on School of european education can be found in the section  6.1 Organisation of general lower secondary education

Muslim madrasas

The muslim madrasas of Thrace (ierospoudastiria) are religious schools that only students/members of the muslim minority of Thrace may attend.

Muslim madrasas cover the level of secondary education (gymnasio and lykeio). Details on muslim seminaries,  they  can be found in the section  6.4 Organisation of general upper secondary education.

Second chance schools

Scholeia defteris efkairias (second chance schools) have been established under law 2525/1997.  They provide flexible education services for school-leaving adults who wish to resume their studies and obtain a certificate equivalent to the school leaving certificate awarded by gymnasia.

In order to be eligible to enroll at second chance schools, students must be at least 18 years of age or will become 18 on or before 31 December of the current school year. They must also have completed primary education.

The purpose of second chance schools is the overall development of the students, their full participation in the economic, social and cultural reality and their effective participation at the workplace.

The duration of the training is two school years. It does not correspond to the years of the mainstream lower secondary education schools. Hence, only when the student has successfully completed his training, can he/she obtain a leaving certificate equal to the mainstream lower secondary education school leaving certificate. 

The curriculum is way different to that of the mainstream education system as regards principles, content, teaching methodology and student assessment.  The latter is qualitative and descriptive.  It does not reflect the final performance of trainees, but their actual progress.

There are 86 second chance schools in Greece, out of which 12 operate in detention facilities.

Lower secondary schools of special needs education

According to law 3699/2008, gymnasia eidikis agogis kai ekpaifesis (special needs education lower secondary schools - EAE) are attended by students until the age of 19. Apart from grades A, B and C, they offer an additional preliminary year of attendance.

Primary education graduates with disabilities and special educational needs can enrol directly in grade A; that is they can skip the preliminary year, following an evaluation by the relevant ΚΕDDΥ (Center for differential diagnosis, diagnosis and support for special educational needs).

The curricula of special education lower secondary schools (EAE) are drawn up on the basis of  ministerial decision 83315/Δ3/30-6-2020.

In Greece, the number of gymnasia EAE is 9.

More information can be found in Chapter 12.

Upper secondary schools of special needs education

According to law 3699/2008, lykeia eidikis agogis kai ekpaifesis (upper secondary schools of special needs education - EAE) include the preliminary year of attendance and grades A, B and C.

Lower secondary education graduates with disabilities and special educational needs can enrol directly in grade A, following an evaluation by the relevant ΚΕDDΥ (Center for differential diagnosis, diagnosis and support for special educational needs).

The curricula of upper secondary schools of special needs education (EAE) are drawn up on the basis of ministerial decision 83315/Δ3/30-6-2020.

There are 6 lykeia EAE in the country.

More information is available in Chapter 12.

Single special vocational lower and upper secondary schools

Since school year 2017-2018, eniaia eidika epangelmatika gymnasia-lykeia (single special vocational lower and upper secondary schools) have been established.  They operate under a single administration, school head and school teacher's board.

They include grades A, B, C and D of lower secondary school and grades A, B, C and D of upper secondary school.

On the recommendation of the KΕDDΥ (Center for differential diagnosis, diagnosis and support for special educational needs), the following students may enrol in gymnasio grade A:

  • Graduates of general or special needs dimotiko scholeio
  • Students of grade A or B (special vocational education workshops ) 

The right of initial registration is also given to students up to 16 years old.  After completion of attendance of grade D, they are granted the gymnasio qualification.

The curricula of gymnasia of single special vocational lower and upper secondary schools are drawn up according to ministerial decision 103832/Δ3/26-08-2021.

The curricula of lykeia of single special vocational lower and upper secondary schools are drawn up according to ministerial decision 136986/Δ3/20-08-2018.

The subjects to be examined at lykeio are determined by ministerial decision 40204/Δ3/14-03-2019.

Registrations, transfers and attendance of students are determined by ministerial decision 79942/ΓΔ4/21-05-2019.

Since school year 2018-2019, lykeio graduates of single special vocational lower and upper secondary schools, who are not involved in working or training, have the right to enrol in  the “post-secondary year - apprenticeship class”, after recommendation of the school teachers' board and the opinion of KEDASY.

Special needs vocational education workshops

According to  law 3699/2008, ergastiria eidikis epangelmatikis ekpaidefsis (special vocational education workshops - EEEEK) are secondary education school units that meet the requirements of compulsory school attendance law. They belong to the relevant directorate of secondary education.

On the recommendation of KEDDY centres, eligible for enrolment in EEEEK schools are general or special education primary school graduates aged up to 16, who face difficulties in meeting the curricular requirements of lower secondary education, and students with disabilities or/and special educational needs.

EEEEK students attend 6 grades.

More information on the school units operating within the framework of special education can be found in Chapter 12.