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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Teaching and learning in general lower secondary education


6.Secondary and post-secondary higher education

6.2Teaching and learning in general lower secondary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Curriculum, subjects, number of hours

The curriculum and timetable of gymnasio (lower secondary school) are drawn up by the Educational Policy Institute (IEP), which, inter alia, makes proposals on:

  • The curricula of secondary education
  • School textbooks
  • Other teaching materials.

The curricula serve as full guides for the teaching work and include the following:

  • Clearly defined objectives for each subject and in line with the general and specific objectives outlined in the respective education level
  • The taught curricula divided into different sections
  • Indicative guidelines on the teaching method and materials per subject.

Curricula are centrally defined. They target all students attending the same grade and education level.  At the same time, they are pilot tested, evaluated and reviewed in line with the developments in science and education.

Lower secondary school (day or evening) curricula are split into 3 levels, each representing a grade. 

Instruction time for subjects at day gymnasia is specified according to ministerial decision 94207/Δ2/29-07-2021. It amounts to 33 hours for grades A and B and to 34 hours for grade C for day secondary schools per week:

Day lower secondary school timetable

Subject   Grades    
Modern Greek Language and Literature   A B C
 Language Teaching 3 2 2
  Modern Greek Literature 2 2 2
Ancient Greek Language and Literature Ancient Greek Language 2 2 2
  Translated Ancient Greek texts 2 2 2
Mathematics   4 4 4
Physics   1 2 2
Chemistry   - 1 1
Biology   1 1 1
Geology/Geography   1 2 -
History   2 2 2
Religious Education   2 2 2
English   2 2 2
2nd Foreign Language (French/German/Italian)   2 2 2
Social and civic education   - - 3
Home economics   1 - -
Physical Education   2 2 2
Technology and information technology Technology 1 1 1
  Information technology 2 1 1
Culture and activities Music 1 1 1
  Art 1 1 1
Skill development workshops   1 1 1
Total hours   33 33 34

Instruction time for subjects at evening gymnasia is specified in ministerial decision 94214/Δ2/29-07-2021. It amounts to 24 school hours per week for grades A and B and to 2 hours for grade C for esperina gymnasia (evening lower secondary schools) .

Subjects taught in gymnasia are compulsory for all students of the same grade, except for the second foreign language. 

Students choose a second foreign language, French or German, at grade 5 of primary school.  The selection is valid until grade C of lower secondary school.

However, they may change it at grade A of gymnasio. Parents should justify this in writing (application).  There is a set condition that a class should be formed for teaching the second foreign language (ministerial decision 53476/ΓΔ4/2017).

Italian is taught (parallel to French and German) in gymnasia, where permanent teachers of the relevant specialization serve.

The language of instruction is the official national language of the country, Greek.  Greek runs throughout both primary and secondary Education, covering important part of the curriculum in these education levels.

According to law 4807/2021, 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. 

Teaching methods and materials

Until school year 2017-2018, school advisors were responsible for the scientific and pedagogical support and guidance of secondary education teachers.

Law 4547/2018 abolished the institution of school advisors and established new support structures for educational work:

  • Regional Centres for Educational Planning (PEKES). The Regional centers for educational planning (PEKES) are abolished but continue to perform their tasks according to the provisions of law 4547/2018 as before as far as the selection and placement of Education counselors, Regional supervisors of the quality of education as well as Supervisors of the quality of education
  • Centre of interdisciplinary assessment, counseling & support (KEDASY).
  • School Networks of Educational Support (SDEY).
  • Interdisciplinary support committees for general and vocational education school units (EDY).
  • Environment and sustainability training center (KEPEA).

School textbooks are written based on:

They are distributed for free in public schools. They are common for all students attending same grade. 

School textbooks and curricula are composed by the Institute of Educational Policy (founded by law 3966/2011). They are specified by respective decisions of the Ministry of Education.

The Computer Technology Institute & Press Diophantus is a research and technology organization focusing on research and the effective use of Information and Communication Technologies in the sector of education (law 3966/2011).  It publishes and distributes school textbooks.

For the authorization of all other educational material or/and the programmes and any research conducted in specific or/and all primary and secondary schools, IEP makes suggestions.  Prospective applicants may apply via the Ministry of Education.

At the beginning of the school year, all teachers receive teaching instructions.  Yet, they are rather independent since they can modify their subject’s teaching methods in ways that suit their students’ abilities and interests.

Some methodological approaches used in gymnasio are the following:

  1. Investigation and discovery (active approach to knowledge): it aims at helping students to think, handle complex concepts, investigate and conquer knowledge themselves, i.e. learn ‘how to learn’
  2. Visits to the environment (natural and anthropogenic).  The contact with the environment contributes to the experiential approach to learning and in the long run may work in other directions as well, such as in career guidance and right choice of studies
  3. Demonstrations using appropriate teaching aids by means of slides, videos, models, pre-made kits etc. The interest of pupils is triggered, their attention is focused on a specific goal. Learning becomes easier and more natural
  4. Discussion – debate of the teacher with pupils or discussion in groups: the discussion allows pupils to think, be puzzled, evaluate, form their opinions through the dialectical process of confrontation
  5. Direct form of teaching – narration: man has the ability, by means of reason, to communicate his knowledge and ideas.  This enables teachers to be directly involved in the learning process at the time of teaching, when they consider that indirect forms of teaching are not appropriate for the occasion
  6. Teamwork: the micro-group of pupils develops a dynamic that may well be used either as a context of collective data processing or support towards individual learning.

Within the context of optional school activities, teachers undertake actions on:

  • Environmental education
  • Health education
  • Culture and arts oriented issues.

School laboratories (natural sciences and information technology)

A major effort is made for the promotion of laboratory teaching for the subjects of natural sciences as well as for the support of the teaching and the application of information and new technologies in secondary education schools.

School laboratory of natural sciences

The school laboratory of natural sciences covers the needs of natural sciences laboratory teaching. The implementation of lab activities is an integral part of teaching natural sciences subjects. The school laboratories offer a place for teaching and practical activities.

Students work in groups on a specific subject, developing their creativity in a spirit of cooperation.  At the same time, they have at their disposal up-to-date instruments, which helps students discover the natural environment and the laws that govern it.

Laboratory centres of natural sciences

In order to offer extra support to lab teaching of natural sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geology-Geography), laboratory centres of natural sciences operate.  There can be one or more depending on the number of school units at each education directorate.

Laboratory centres of natural sciences are centres of research, technical and pedagogical support of the lab teaching of natural sciences subjects.  They use all appropriate means.  They co-operate with the coordinators of educational work of natural sciences.

School laboratory for information technology and computer applications

Apart from the above school labs, all school units are equipped with a school laboratory for information technology and computer applications.  Its function is to teach computer science and computer applications as defined by the curricula and the greater educational goals. 

The lab operates complementary to the educational process.  It offers a modern and interactive way of learning and training through the teaching of subject fields via:

  • The use of certified educational software
  • Pedagogical use of the Internet
  • The support of project based learning in the framework of the school’s activities
  • The European cooperation actions
  • The broadening of purely teaching activities (enhanced teaching, additional teaching support).

The laboratory is equipped with:

  • Computer equipment (hardware and software), peripheral devices, networking equipment (hubs, switches modems, routers), projectors
  • Passive equipment (network and electrical installation)
  • Software in CDs, DVDs, discs, software manuals, software licenses, as well as other complementary material (guides and manuals)
  • Books and publications, as well as document files relevant to laboratories for natural sciences and the subject of information technology
  • Expendable material, instructional material (stationary, projection screen) and furniture (bookshelves, lockers, whiteboard).

Educational platforms and digital portals

The digital upgrade of the teaching process is carried out through supply programmes of suitable ICT equipment (portable laboratories, interactive boards).

Through the official digital educational portal of the Ministry of Education, the educational community (teachers, students) and parents are informed of various issues of interest such as:

  1. Useful links
  2. Educational news and announcements
  3. Conferences – events of various bodies
  4. Approved educational programmes for the school year
  5. Educational visits
  6. Transnational programmes
  7. Health education programmes
  8. Career guidance matters.

The user can quickly and easily search for information.  The portal is utterly useful to the education community since it is a major attempt to gather all relevant information in a single site on the Internet.

The educational resource open-edu also supports this effort.  The website aims at presenting all free:

  • Digital resources
  • Libraries
  • Services.

In parallel, the user generated content Photodentro operates.  Teachers and members of the wider educational community can:

  • Post their own digital content or
  • Search for digital content.

The aim is to gather learning material, developed by members of the educational community who wish to share them, such as:

  1. Experiments
  2. Interactive simulations
  3. Investigations
  4. Images
  5. Educational games
  6. 3D maps
  7. Exercises
  8. Educational scenarios
  9. Lesson plans.

Part of the electronic platform of the Ministry of Education is the digital school-digital educational content:

  • It includes all textbooks in digital form
  • It has rich teaching and learning materials
  • It is a two-way channel for communication and learning support
  • Teachers and schools can post relevant educational material.

Finally, the Advanced Electronic Scenarios Operating Platform (AESOP) of the Institute of Educational Policy is a support website for the education community.  Various scenarios for different subjects of primary and secondary education are available.

Foreign languages

The implementation of the single curriculum in foreign languages has been a big change in foreign language education (ministerial decision 141417/Δ2/9-9-2016).

Its basis is the teaching of foreign languages throughout the spectrum of compulsory education.  Foreign languages are considered to be a single cognitive subject with a common curriculum.

The above curriculum describes in detail the communicative objectives through indicators of:

  • Communicative language proficiency
  • Partly communicative language actions.

The above are classified according to the levels of language proficiency of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (NRFL, Council of Europe, 2001).

The choice of teaching methods depends on the teachers’ judgment and on the basis of the social, cultural and learning traits, as well as the interests and needs of students.

Apart from lesson plans, teachers create suitable educational material.  Hence, they enrich the school textbook, to reinforce learning incentives and meet the interests and inclinations of students.