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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Teaching and learning in primary education


5.Primary education

5.2Teaching and learning in primary education

Last update: 10 May 2023

Curriculum, subjects, number of hours

Primary education curriculum is drawn up by the Institute for Educational Policy (ΙΕP). The latter is responsible for delivering opinions or recommendations on issues related to primary education programmes, school textbooks and other teaching material.  The curriculum is implemented at all schools across the country. The current primary education National Curriculum is modeled on the basis of the Cross Thematic Curriculum Framework for Compulsory Education (DEPPS) (Minsterial Decisions 21072β/Γ2/28-2-2003 and 21072α/Γ2/28-2-2003). The cross-thematic approach defines the structure of teaching. It aims at a balanced horizontal and vertical distribution of educational material. It promotes cognitive subjects interconnection, as well as comprehensive analysis of key concepts. The innovative "Skills Workshops Flexible Zone of Interdisciplinary and Creative Activities" is also included in DEPPS.

Also, during the school years 2021-2022 and 2022-2023, the action "Pilot Implementation of Study Programs in Primary and Secondary Education" is implemented by the IEP, in all Model Schools and the Experimental Schools of the country, by the instructions of the IEP (Ministry Decision 104671/GD4/2021) within the framework of the Acts "Upgrading the Study Programs and Creating Educational Materials for Primary and Secondary Education" and "Training of Teachers in the Study Programs and educational materials for Primary and Secondary education". From the 2023-2024 school year, their universal application will be effective in the country's Primary and Secondary Education schools. Joint Ministerial Decision 160159/GD4/2022 establishes, in collaboration with the IEP and the Diophantus Institute of Computer Technology and Publications, the creation, organization, operation and technical support of the Textbook Registry and the digital Textbook Library. This is the initial stage of implementation of the reform for the Multiple Book. The multi-book enables teachers to choose the textbook they wish to teach from in the classroom, while at the same time, all approved textbooks will be available in a digital library so that our students could combine knowledge from different sources of information in order to cultivate their critical thinking.

According to law 4547/2018, the support structure of school units and educational work moved towards an interactive and dynamic relationship between the school and support structures. Law 4823/2021 replaces the institution of Εducational Co-ordinators by the institution of Education Consultants. The Educational Co-ordinators continue to perform their duties until their abolition with the selection and placement of Education Consultants, Regional Quality Supervisors of Education and Quality of Education Supervisors. Educational goals, pedagogical practices, types of exams and formative assessment are formed by school units and groups of schools with the co-operation of:

  • Interdisciplinary Assessment, Counseling and Support Centers (KEDASY)
  • Environmental and Sustainability Education Centres (KEPEA)
  • Regional Councils of Supervisors (ESL).

Nipiagogeio (pre-school)

The Cross Thematic Curriculum Framework for pre-school and the relevant National Curriculum determine the guidelines for the design and development of activities in:

  1. Language
  2. Mathematics
  3. Environmental Study
  4. Creation & Expression
  5. ICT.

By Ministerial Decision Φ.31/94185/Δ1/2021 the "Skills Workshops", which operated as a pilot during the school year 2020-2021, have been implemented since the school year 2021-2022 in all classes throughout the country. Their purpose is to enhance the cultivation of soft skills, life skills and technology and science skills in Kindergarten. Also by Ministerial Decision Φ.80378/ΓΔ4/2021, the English language is introduced into the compulsory morning program of the country's pre-schools through creative activities, of an experiential nature, from the school year 2021-2022. The introduction of English language is done by providing PE06 teachers for two teaching hours per week in each section of the compulsory morning program of Pre-schools, in cooperation with the kindergarten teacher of the department. Its aim is to enrich the Kindergarten program in relation to the linguistic and all-round development of infants to enhance multilingual awareness, intercultural communication and the formation of the identity of the active citizen in modern multicultural society. These programs are not considered distinct teaching subjects. They offer guidelines for the implementation of activities, developmentally suitable and effective for all pre-school children.

Therefore, in the pre-school, subjects are not distinguished into compulsory and optional. There is no specific syllabus, as in primary and secondary education.

These programs aim to provide all-round child development with regard to their physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills. Programs are designed around themes that trigger the child's interest while using pedagogical practices.

Thematic and project-based learning are key components of the programs implemented. Emphasis is placed upon the interdisciplinary and holistic approach to knowledge, as well as making use of children's curiosity and ideas for conducting the learning process.

The single type of all-day pre-school has:

  • The mainstream compulsory program for all pupils (infants and pre-schoolers). It concerns all classes. It lasts from 8:30 to 13:00.
  • The non-compulsory all-day program lasts from 13.00 to 16:00. It may include early arrival classes (07:00 – 08:00), if parents apply for them and only for pupils, who have chosen the optional all-day programme (13:15 – 16:00).
  • Schools of Primary education which are going to implement as a pilot a new upgraded all-day program until 17.30 for the school year 2022-2023 are defined in accordance with law 4215/2022.

The mainstream compulsory program are developed in 25 teaching hours per week, while the optional in 4 teaching hours per day, according to the current Cross Thematic Curriculum Framework and the National Curriculum for pre-school. The timetable of the pre-school is described in detail in Chapter 5.1 “Organization of Primary Education”.

Dimotiko scholeio (primary school)

National Curricula for each subject are organised into 6 levels, each of them corresponding to one (1) out of six (6) primary school grades or into fewer levels, depending on the subject. National Curricula specify:

  • The aims of the subject
  • Educational objectives
  • Thematic Units
  • Indicative activities and cross-thematic projects.

The syllabus for the subjects taught is compulsory for all pupils at all primary school grades (i.e. syllabus content and its distribution across all 6 Grades).

The teaching subjects of the single type of all-day primary school are:

  1. Religious Education
  2. Language
  3. Mathematics
  4. History
  5. Study of the Environment
  6. Geography
  7. Natural Sciences
  8. Civics Education
  9. Arts Education (Visual Arts, Music, Drama)
  10. Physical Education
  11. English
  12. 2nd Foreign Language
  13. Skill Laboratories
  14. ICT.

In accordance with predicential decree 79/2017, the following table presents instruction time per subject and class, as applicable:

1Religious Education--2211
5Study of the Environment3322--
7Natural Sciences----33
8Civics Education----11

Arts Education:

Visual Arts



























10Physical Education333322
11English Language223333
12Skill Laboratories332211

2nd Foreign Language

(French or German)

14Information & Communication Technologies (ICT)111111

The "Skills Workshops", which were piloted during the school year 2020-2021, with ministerial decision Φ.31/94185/Δ1/2021 have been developed in all classes throughout the country. The curricula of primary schools (see Chapter 5.1) which operate with 4 teachers and above is defined by  presidential decree 79/2017, as applicable. For schools operating with one (1), two (2) teachers and 3 teachers the primary school curricula is specified with Ministerial Decision 83939/Δ1/19-05-2017, as applicable.

Teaching methods and materials

Nipiagogeio (pre-school)

With the adoption of law 4547/2018 the educational work is supported by the Coordinators of Education (SEE) and the following structures:

  • Regional Councils of Supervisors (PESES).
  • Interdisciplinary Assessment, Counseling and Support Centers (KEDASY).
  • School Networks of Educational Support (SDEY).
  • Committees of Interdisciplinary (EDY).
  • Environmental and Sustainability Education Centers (KEPEA).
  • ICTs’ Supervisors.

Pre-school curriculum and the relevant educational support material is designed under the supervision of the Institute of Educational Policy (IEP) and are approved by the Ministry of Education. For the compulsory program of public pre-school ( nipiagogeio): law 4692/2020 by decision of the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, which is issued after a proposal of the Institute of Educational Policy, introduces:

  1. module entitled "Skills Workshops", consisting of a pilot addition of new thematic courses in nipiagogeio.  The aim is to enhance the cultivation of soft skills, life skills and technology and science skills. 
  2. the creative engagement of students with English language through the organization and implementation of activities. During these, students interact with English teachers  in the presence of the Kindergarten Teacher.

More specifically, the "Skills Workshops" were implemented as a pilot during the school year 2020-2021 and since the school year 2021-2022 they are implemented in all  pre-schools (both public and private) across the country (Ministerial Decision F.31/94185/Δ1/2021, in accordance with Ministerial Decision F.31/94185/Δ1/2021). Law 2418 /2019 provides for the preparation and implementation of a new curriculum for pre-schools (nipiagogeio) with a Decision for the Integration of the Act "Upgrading of the Curricula and Creation of Educational Material for Primary and Secondary Education".  Pre-school teachers are supported in their work both by the guidelines in the pre-school National Curriculum (Ministerial Decision 21072β/Γ2/28-2-2003) and the "Teacher's guide – Educational Plans - Creative Learning Environments (2005)". They offer them a basis for theoretical and methodological support and a pool of ideas with direct examples of learning activities.

The objectives of the curriculum for pre-schools are achieved by designing and developing free and organized play activities which aim to promote active, experiential and collaborative learning.  These activities should take into account: needs, interests, competences, pre-existing knowledge, inclinations and specificities of students as well as the individual learning rate of each student. An interdisciplinary and cross-thematic approach to the issues is attempted and creative and free expression is promoted through a student-centered process.

To reinforce all-day pre-schools institution, a new package of educational and support material has been developed with multiple recipients (parents, pre-school teachers, pupils). It includes both printed and electronic material. Seminars have been organised for education executives on this new educational material and new curriculum. Ministerial Decision 130272/Δ1 establishes the Single Type of All-Day nipiagogeio. The pre-school Curriculum promotes autonomy of children, so that they can learn how to co-exist, co-operate and capitilise on knowledge and skills which are associated with different cognitive fields but which contribute to their cognitive, social, emotional and physical development. 

The teacher creates the appropriate conditions for ensuring learning incentives and prerequisites for all children in an attractive, safe, friendly and stimuli-rich environment to ensure motivations and learning conditions.The role of the teacher is crucial as it is assisting,  mediating and leading to cooperation, thus facilitating and supporting the whole learning process.

The main means and tools used in pre-schools in order to meet the objectives of National Curricula for pre-schools are:

  • Images
  • Data reconstructions
  • Exploration
  • Educational games
  • Practice exercises
  • Case studies
  • Open activities
  • Research Activities.

The "Skills Workshops" aim to enhance the cultivation of soft skills, life skills and technology and science skills in students  in combination with the formation of a  contemporary framework program with a structure of Open, Living Programs of Studies and Procedures through the following right circles of:

  • Cycle of learning skills – Critical thinking
  • Cycle of life skills
  • Cycle of technology and science skills
  • Cycle of mind/mental skills

Within the context of School Activities Programmes (PSPs), and within the timetable, teachers undertake actions pertaining to:

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

Through the School Activities Programs emphasizing the empirical, interdisciplinary and team approach in order to pupils develop their social skills and critical thinking, to cultivate attitudes that are necessary in the decision-making process while promoting the opening of the school to society and its connection with social reality. The teachers for the development of the above educational programs refer to the "Guide for the development of interdisciplinary environmental education activities" and are supported in their work by the Heads of Environmental Education, Health Education, Cultural Affairs and School Activities, in collaboration with the Pedagogical specialists of the relevant KEPEA. In the frameeork of the implementation of the School Activities Programmes, the school units may:

  1. cooperate with public bodies, local authorities, Higher Education Institutes, other governmental or non-governmental bodies, etc., which implement programs / actions approved by the Ministry of Education and
  2. utilize educational material of institutions, approved by the Ministry of Education. Also in the same frame there is the possibility of participation in thematic networks of Environmental Education, Health Education, Cultural Issues  (local, regional, national, international), which are approved by the Ministry of Education. 

The educational material is available free of charge.

Dimotiko scholeio (primary school)

Until school year 2017-2018, school advisors were responsible for the scientific and pedagogical support and guidance of nipiagogeio teachers. According to law 4823/2021, “Upgrading of the school, empowerment of teachers and other provisions" the responsibility of scientific and pedagogical support and guidance of teachers teaching in primary school is supervised by education counselors. There are also the following structures:

  • Regional Centres for Educational Planning (PEKES) until their replacement by the Regional Councils of Supervisors (PESES).
  • Interdisciplinary Assessment, Counseling and Support Centers (KEDASY).
  • School Networks of Educational Support (SDEY).
  • Committees of Interdisciplinary Support (EDY).
  • Environmental Education Centres.
  • ICTs Supervisors.

Law 4692/2020 determined the distribution of time per teaching subject in primary schools. By the FEK 5044/τ.Β΄/14-11-2020 the timetable for contemporary distance learning for the 2020-2021 school year has been set. The website operated in support of primary education pupils and teachers in distance education due to the pandemic, as did educational television. Special Guide for distance education (for teachers) was prepared by the Education Policy Institute. Teachers must implement the curricula, taking into consideration the special conditions prevailing in their classes, in order to achieve the educational objectives. In order to guide teaching work:

  • Teachers are provided with guidelines on teaching in line with the current curricula by the Institute of Educational Policy.
  • They are supplied with teacher manuals accompanying each subject.
  • They co-operate with educational counselors.

In the curricula, particular emphasis is placed on the cross-thematic approach to knowledge via Skills Workshops. The Skill Workshops enrich the topics of the "Flexible Zone of Interdisciplinary and Creative Activities" with specific thematic Units, necessary for the development of skills, the acquisition of competences and the formation of attitudes, enhancing active citizenship, in order to compensate for the inflexibility, unilateralism and fragmentation of the traditional school and to permeate with their principles and practices the daily teaching practice.

Within the framework of both the Skills Workshops, within the school hours,  actions are developed for all classes around 4 thematic units:

  1. I Live Better,- Well-being
  2. I take care of the Environment,
  3. I Am Interested and Active, Social Awareness and Responsibility
  4. Create and Innovate - Creative Thinking and Initiative,

as well as optional school activities, the following actions are developed by teachers:

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

The teachers for the development of the above educational programs utilize the "Guide for the development of interdisciplinary environmental education activities" and are supported in their work by the heads of environmental education, health education, cultural affairs and school activities, in collaboration with the pedagogical relevant KEPEA. In the frame of the implementation of the PSD, the school units may:

  1. cooperate with public organizations, local self-government bodies, HEIs, other governmental or non-governmental bodies, etc., which implement programs / actions, 
  2. utilize approved  educational material of institutions,
  3. participate in thematic networks of environmental education, health education, cultural issues (local, regional, national, international), approved by the Ministry of Education.

The above emphasize the empirical, interdisciplinary and team approach to knowledge, so as to help pupils develop their social skills and critical thinking, while encouraging schools to open up to society.

Teachers take to the implement various optional educational programmes-activities within or outside the classroom through student participation.

School textbooks have been elaborated based on National Curricula, applicable to all subjects, grades and education levels. They are distributed free of charge to pupils across the country.

The selection and approval of the material is conducted at central level by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs (they are designed by the Institute of Educational Policy). According to 2418/06-05-2019 Decision to integrate the Act "Upgrading the Curriculums and Creating Educational Materials of Primary and Secondary Education", the preparation of a new Curriculum for the Primary School is implemented. According to Law 4692/2020, by decision of the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, issued on the recommendation of the Institute of Educational Policy, are introduced as a pilot in the compulsory primary school program  educational action entitled "Skills Workshops".  It concerns the trial addition of new thematic courses in the Primary School in order to enhance the cultivation of mild skills, life skills and technology and science skills among pupils.

More specific by the FΕΚ 2539/τ.Β΄/24-6-2020 provision was made for the implementation of the pilot action "Skills Workshops" in Primary and Secondary Education. From 2016 to 2017, a systematic effort has been made and is in place to restructure and rationalize the curriculum at the Primary School. At the same time, from 2018 a new mathematics book for the 5th grade of Primary School is being used and from 2020 to 2021 a new curriculum and educational material for Religious is in force (FEK 698/τ.Β΄/4-3-2020).

The issue of pupils' homework is defined based on the directions provided at central level, while relevant instructions can be found in teacher books.

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.

A.    English Language in pre-schools 

Under Article 2 of the Law 4692/12-06-2020 "Upgrading the School and other provisions" and the Ministerial Decision F.7/76108/ΓΔ4 on "Activities in English in nipiagogeio", was piloted during the school year 2020-2021, the English language in the compulsory morning program of public Kindergartens of all types, through creative activities, for 2 teaching hours per week.  The teaching is undertaken jointly by an english teacher and the kindergarten teacher of the class, who co-formulate the program of activities on the basis of the Curriculum of the nipiagogeio, with emphasis on exploiting the needs, inclinations and infants’ special interests.The program is implemented in all kindergartens of the country since the school year 2021-2022. Β. Increase in teaching hours in the 1st and 2nd grades of the Primary School According to the article 3, Law 4692/2020, the teaching of English from the school year 2020-2021 increases in the 1st and 2nd grades of the Primary School from one, to two hours per week.

Natural Sciences

A major effort is made for the promotion of laboratory teaching for the subjects of natural sciences.

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

EKFE 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.

Finally, they contribute to the organisation of the school laboratories of natural sciences (SEFE) of primary and secondary education schools. 

ICT in primary education

Special emphasis is given in the inclusion of ICT in the educational process. To this end, the Ministry of Education provides software for classroom use. Moreover, there are two websites maintained by the Ministry of Education:

  • The official educational portal 
  • Digital School 

These two constitute interactive communication and teaching support channels, where teachers and schools can post relevant educational material. In parallel, primary schools equipment is enriched with computer laboratories. In addition, the Advanced Electronic Scenarios Operating Platform «Αίσωπος» is another support website for the educational community. It is developed by IEP and offers teaching scenarios for various cognitive subjects of primary education. From school year 2016-17 ICT courses in primary school are taught (1) hour weekly in all classes. In accordance with law 4692/2020, on the allocation of time per teaching subject in Primary Schools, the teaching of ICT continues to be taught for one (1) hour per week at all levels. The teaching of ICT in primary school identifies and specializes:

  • the dimensions of computer literacy,
  •  computational, 
  • analytical, 
  • interdisciplinary and
  • critical thinking, ie knowledge, skills, attitudes and values of ICT, that should be developed by all students and are necessary both for continuing their studies at the next level of education and for their integration into the newly transformed digital society. 

The teaching of informatics literacy in primary school has a clear laboratory orientation. The main factor, being the active participation of each student,  continuous interaction and cooperation with the teacher and classmates. The Informatics Laboratory, conventional or mobile (transferred to the classroom), is for students a place of study, research, active participation and cooperation. This encourages and favors the exploratory approach of new knowledge, interactive and collaborative learning, the self-engagement and the creativity of the students. The proposed framework for the development of ICT pupils consisted of four dimensions (components) corresponding to the structure of teaching: 

  • Technological
  • Cognitive
  • Problem solving
  • Social skills

As part of the wider transformation of digital education in our country, the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with agencies, including the IEP, has adopted digital structures to support modern and asynchronous distance learning, such as:

Asynchronous distance learning 

Synchronous distance learning

In particular, the Digital Educational Platforms e-me and e-class, are two-way channels of communication and teaching support, as teachers and schools have the opportunity to post relevant educational material.