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Organisational variations and alternative structures


6.Secondary education (or upper secondary education) and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.4Organisational variations and alternative structures

Last update: 22 March 2023

The Slovak system of education represents a single-structure model, where the vast majority of pupils complete primary education (ISCED 1) and lower secondary education (ISCED 2) at primary schools. Subsequently, the pupils will complete higher secondary education at general or vocational secondary schools  (ISCED 3).

The transition of pupils in the course of lower secondary education (i.e. the second level of primary school – ISCED 2) to other types of schools is an atypical element in this system. The atypical transitions are the following (all of them in the course of education ISCED2 level): 

  • transition to 8-year gymnasiums after the 5th grade of primary school; 
  • transition to dance conservatories after the 5th grade of primary school;
  • transition to bilingual gymnasiums after the 8th grade of primary school.


Dance conservatory

Dance conservatory is a separate type of secondary school that provides complex art education and artistic-pedagogical education in an 8-year continuous educational programme in the study field 8227 Q dance. 

It prepares pupils for a professional career in arts or teaching art and vocational subjects. 

Dance conservatories are founded as boarding schools.

Dance conservatories provide

  1. Lower secondary education (1. - 4. grade of dance conservatory),
  2. Full secondary vocational education (5. - 8. grade of dance conservatory) after successfully passing the school leaving examination (maturita),
  3. Higher vocational education (7. - 8. grade of dance conservatory) after successfully passing the graduate examination (absolventská skúška).

Pupils can be admitted to the first grade of dance conservatory provided they achieved primary education and successfully completed the fifth grade of primary school and met the requirements of the admission procedure. The admission examinations also include a talent examination, which consists of the verification of special abilities, skills, or talent required for the successful completion of the respective field of education.

Education at dance conservatories directly follows up on primary education. It focuses on providing pupils with general education and key competences of general secondary education with maturita and secondary vocational education with maturita. In particular, it prepares pupils for further university study, career, and personal and social life.

The study is completed in the eighth grade by the school-leaving examination (maturita) as well as the graduate examination (absolventská skúška).

Pupils who have successfully passed the school-leaving examination achieve full secondary vocational education (ISCED 354). The document certifying the achieved level of education is the Certificate of School-leaving Examination.  

Pupils will achieve higher vocational education by completing the 8-year dance conservatory educational programme, which is completed by the standardised graduate examination. Certificates of the achieved level of education are the Certificate of Graduate Examination and the Graduate Diploma with the right to use the title of „Diploma Specialist in Arts“ (


Gymnasiums with eight- and five-year educational programmes

Higher secondary education provided by gymnasiums in 4-year educational programmes is described in the previous chapters. 

However, pupils can achieve higher general secondary education by attending:

  1. 8-year gymnasiums and 
  2. 5-year bilingual gymnasiums.

The certificate of the achieved level of education is the Certificate of School-leaving Examination.

Gymnasiums with an 8-year study programme are designed for gifted pupils who have completed the 5th grade of primary school. The Ministry of Education regulates the number of 8-year gymnasium pupils at 5 % of pupils in the population year.

8-year gymnasium provides

  • Lower secondary education, achieved by the successful completion of the fourth grade of an 8-year educational programme at secondary school and
  • Full general secondary education, achieved by the successful completion of the last grade of an 8-year educational programme at the gymnasium, which is completed by the school-leaving examination; 

As regards 5-year bilingual gymnasiums, at least three subjects are taught in the second language (the first being the Slovak language). Intensive language training of bilingual gymnasium pupils in the second language of instruction takes place mainly in the first grade 8 hours a week. Currently, there are Slovak-English, Slovak-German, Slovak-French, Slovak-Italian, and Slovak-Spanish bilingual gymnasiums. 

The organisation of education, instruction, and assessment in gymnasiums with 8- and 5-year educational programmes is the same as in 4-year gymnasiums.

The content of educations follows the Innovative state educational programme for gymnasiums with an 8-year educational programme (Inovovaným štátnym vzdelávacím programom pre gymnáziá s osemročným vzdelávacím programom) and the Innovative state educational programme for gymnasiums with 4- and 5-year educational programmes a (Inovovaným vzdelávacím programom pre gymnáziá so štvorročným a päťročným vzdelávacím programom).


Experimental verification

Education of pupils can also take place in educational programmes, which are subject to experimental verification.

Experimental verification aims to obtain or practically verify knowledge, experience, and suggestions for the creation of alternative educational programmes, verification of foreign models or their application onto the conditions of schools and school facilities.

Experimental verification is governed by the requirements defined by the Education act. It is approved by the Ministry of Education based on the conditions agreed with the initiator. Experimental verification can also be initiated by the Ministry of Education.

Guarantors of experimental verification are obliged to submit the continuous and final evaluation report on the experimental verification to the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic. Every year, the ministry publishes the Evaluation of experimental verification in gymnasiums, secondary vocational schools, schools of applied arts and secondary sports school in the Slovak Republic (Vyhodnotenie experimentálneho overovania v gymnáziách, stredných odborných školách, školách umeleckého priemyslu a stredných športových školách v Slovenskej republike) for the respective school year.


Legislation references

National Council of the Slovak Republic, 2008. Act No. 245/2008 Coll. on training and education (Education Act) and on the amendment of certain acts, as amended (Zákon č. 245/2008 Z.z. o výchove a vzdelávaní (školský zákon) a o zmene a doplnení niektorých zákonov v znení neskorších predpisov) (last accessed 22/03/2023).