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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisational variations and alternative structures in single-structure education


5.Single-structure primary and lower secondary education

5.4Organisational variations and alternative structures in single-structure education

Last update: 5 February 2024

Organisational variations


8-year gymnasiums, 5-year bilingual secondary schools and dance conservatories.

Pupils can transition from primary school to another type of school during the lower secondary education if they meet the admission procedure requirements. Upon completion of the fifth grade of primary school, pupils can transition to an 8-year gymnasium or a dance conservatory.

The number of first-grade pupils at gymnasiums with an 8-year educational programme must not exceed 5 percent of the total number of pupils from the respective population year in the respective school year. This measure aims to regulate the number of pupils admitted to 8-year study in such a way that mainstream education is not endangered, equal opportunities are ensured, and segregation of pupils does not occur.

Admission examinations to dance conservatories also entail talent examinations which test special abilities, skills, or talents required to complete the respective field of education. Dance conservatories provide education according to the State Educational Programme for Dance Conservatories (Štátny vzdelávací program pre tanečné konzervatóriá).

Upon completion of the eighth grade of primary school, pupils can transition to a 5-year bilingual secondary school. Bilingual secondary schools can admit pupils from both the 8th grade and the 9th grade of primary school. 5-year secondary education is organised as bilingual education with the second language of instruction being a language of another state. These are usually gymnasiums founded under an international agreement with another state, e.g. Spain, Italy, France, etc., or without an international agreement.

8-year gymnasiums and 5-year bilingual secondary schools have their separate state educational programmes. In 8-year gymnasiums, a higher rate of differentiation is applied so the schools focus on a specific path, for example, informatics, foreign languages, mathematics, etc. In 5-year bilingual secondary schools, some subjects are taught in the second language of instruction.

Information on atypical transitions within secondary education can be found in chapter 6.4 Secondary education (or upper secondary education) and post-secondary non-tertiary education: Organisational variations and alternative structures


Alternative schools


Alternative schools differ from traditional schools in their content, methods, forms, the position of pupil and teacher, organisation of classes, school management, school founder, parents’ position in relation to school. These schools in Slovakia are obliged to adhere to the State educational programme.

All alternative schools in Slovakia are private. Funding for these schools is the same as for all other schools, which means they receive the same normative sum per pupil. They have different variants, the best known include Waldorf school (Steiner’s Pedagogy), M. Montessori (M. Montessori’s Pedagogy), Alternative school of C. Freinet, Jena-plan school, Dalton school.

According to the Education Act (Školský zákon), the Ministry of Education, Research, Development, and Youth of the Slovak Republic is in charge of experimental verification at schools and educational facilities, which aims to achieve or verify in practice the knowledge, experience, and incentives for changes and amendments to educational documents, development of alternative educational programmes or teaching programmes, and verification of foreign models.  Alternative programmes were verified in some schools and the first alternative schools were also founded, e.g. integrated thematic teaching, Waldorf schools, open schools, Rogerian schools, schools for the gifted children, etc. 


Schools for exceptionally gifted children


Schools can create classes for the development of pupils’ talents with the founder’s consent. The creation of a class with extended instruction in certain subjects is conditional upon meeting qualified personnel, technical and material requirements of the educational process. Pupils are admitted to classes with extended instruction in some subjects or groups of subjects which require verification of special knowledge, skills, and talents by headteachers based on the counselling and prevention centre’s statement. Pupil are enrolled in the class with the informed consent of their parents. The classes with extended instruction may be divided into two groups if the number of pupils exceeds 23 pupils.

In 1993, a project of alternative care for gifted children was launched in Slovakia. Just like public schools, schools participating in the project must follow national curricula, though extended. They use special textbooks. The basic feature of these schools is, for example, a lower number of pupils in classrooms (the maximum number in grades 1-4 is 15 pupils, and 22 pupils in grades 5-9). Classes are divided into groups for some subjects. There are two teachers present during lessons. The intensity and efficiency of lessons are also increased through specialist teachers (mathematics, informatics, foreign language). Pupils start learning English and informatics as early as grade 1. Other features include individual or group projects, seminar projects, new methods of evaluation and self-evaluation, support, and stimulation of children for using higher forms of thinking and creativity, specific atmosphere of teaching marked by empathy and tolerance. The teachers who teach in such schools are chosen through selection procedures. They must take psychological tests, personality tests, and creativity tests.