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Teaching and learning in single-structure education


5.Single-structure primary and lower secondary education

5.2Teaching and learning in single-structure education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Curriculum, subjects, number of hours

The basic school programme is an education programme made of a compulsory part and an extended one.

The compulsory programme comprises:

  • compulsory subjects throughout the basic school programme,
  • optional subjects of the third educational period or three-year cycle,
  • form class periods (in second and third educational cycle).

The extended programme includes after-school classes, morning care, remedial lessons, supplementary lessons, extracurricular activities, as well as non-compulsory optional subjects.Pupils may decide not to take any of those lessons.

The basic school programme is laid down by the timetable and subject curricula for compulsory and optional subjects.

It includes guidelines and educational concepts that define other methods of work with pupils. These include morning care, after-school classes, interest activities, out-of-school lessons. The programme also lays out cross curricular contents such as days of activities, use of libraries and information technologies. There are other documents available that additionally assist the teaching staff.

The basic school programme also stipulates the requirements for specific subject teachers

The National Education Institute of the Republic of Slovenia initiates the adoption or amendments of the programme. The timetable and curricula are drafted by the National Expert Council for General Education and adopted by the minister, responsible for education.

The basic school programme was adopted in 1999, whereas individual subject curricula and the timetable have been amended in accordance with the Basic school Act (sl).

Most curricula of compulsory subjects were last amended in 2011. Schools have been applying the amended curricula since the 2011/2012 school year. The modernisation was based on new insights by relevant professional domains. Among other features, the curricula contain development of key competences. More recently some compulsory subject curricula have been amended, namely for teaching foreign languages in grades 2 and 3 (in 2013) and English (2016) and Slovenian (2019). Among optional subjects the subject curriculum for Slovenian sign language has been introduced in 2019 and film education in 2018, the subject curriculum for beekeeping has been updated in 2018.

The curricular principles include schools’ and teachers’ autonomy, responsibility and self-regulation, flexibility, openness and optionalness, a holistic approach, as well as establishing interdisciplinary links.

The basic school programme specifies:

  • number of compulsory and optional subjects, as well as days of activities for each year
  • optional subjects
  • number formclass periods
  • scope of extra-curricular non-compulsory basic school activities schools have to provide, and
  • minimum number of lessons required to realise the programme.

A school is free to organise the weekly number of lessons for each school year differently from what the curriculum stipulates (flexible timetable). Schools in ethnically mixed areas apply the adapted curriculum.

The individual subject curricula include the teaching goals, content, and knowledge standards, including minimum standards. They also contain didactic recommendations for teachers.

Compulsory subjects

As specified by the Basic school Act (sl), the compulsory basic school subjects are as follows:

  • Slovenian language, and Italian or Hungarian in ethnically mixed areas,
  • a foreign language,
  • history,
  • social sciences,
  • geography,
  • patriotic and civic culture and ethics,
  • mathematics,
  • natural sciences,
  • learning the environment,
  • technical education
  • chemistry,
  • biology,
  • physics,
  • visual arts,
  • music arts,
  • sports,
  • technology,
  • home economics.

The Constitution stipulates the separation of the state and religion. It is therefore not permitted for basic schools to teach religion, to provide confessional religious lessons with an intention to teach religion, nor to perform religious ceremonies.

Pupils of grades 4 to 9 have form class periods. Together with their class teacher they work on good mutual relationships, interact and discuss current topics or open issues.

The information on teaching time allocated to each subject or subject field (number of hours per year) is provided in the publication "Recommended Annual Instruction Time in Full-time Compulsory Education in Europe".

Activity days

In the scope of the compulsory programme schools organise days of activities for all classes that create cross-curricular links.

Every school year, schools organise 15 cultural, science, sports or technical activity days. Each activity day comprises 5 school periods.

Often these days are organized around a project, field, practical or laboratory work that entails pupils’ active involvement. They might attend cultural events and/or institutions, train in individual sports, solve technical issues, etc.

Optional subjects

Non-compulsory optional subjects are available to pupils in the second educational cycle of basic school. Exception to the rule is foreign language which can be taught as a non-compusory option also in grade 1.

For pupils in the third basic school cycle, schools provide a range of optional subjects (subject curricula, sl).

Pupils must select at least two lessons per week. They may choose three if parents agree. The optional subjects school offers to pupils have to include a foreign language, rhetoric, religions and ethics. At school's discretion, the offering may include other subjects ranging from natural sciences and technology, computing to social sciences, humanities and arts.

Information and communication technology

Information and communication technology skills are included in the subject curricula for several compulsory subjects and areas. Pupils in grades 4 to 6 may choose an optional subject in computer science. Pupils in the third cycle can choose ICT subject as one of their compulsory options.


The first foreign language is a compulsory subject for pupils of grade two onwards. Schools choose between English or German as the first foreign language they offer.

In the school year 2014/2015, schools started to phase in a compulsory first foreign language in grade 2. In 2016/2017, all grade 2 pupils started learning a foreign language as a compulsory subject.

Pupils of grade 4 and onwards may take lessons in a second foreign language as a non-compulsory optional subject. Schools choose among English, German, French, Croatian, Italian, and Hungarian.

Pupils may learn a foreign language (second or third) as a compulsory optional subject in grades 7 to 9. Schools choose among English, German, French, Croatian, Italian, Hungarian, Chinese, Latin, Macedonian, Russian, Serbian, and Spanish.

Extended programme

All basic schools have to provide the extended programme that is not compulsory for pupils and is free of charge. The programme comprises the following:

  • non-compulsory optional subjects; in grade 1: foreign language lessons; grades 4 to 6: second foreign language lessons, arts, computer science, sports, and/or technics; grades 7 to 9: second foreign language
  • remedial lessons for pupils in need of learning support
  • supplementary lessons for pupils with better than average outcomes in separate subjects
  • morning care before lessons start in the morning for grade 1 pupils, lasting up to two hours per day
  • after-school classes for grades 1 to 5: pupils do their homework, study, take part in various activities, have lunch and a snack; commonly these last 5 hours per day, but there can also be more
  • extra-curricular activities aimed at accelerating pupils’ interests of pupils; all schools have two school choirs: one for younger and one for older pupils, they also offer arts, technics and technology focused activities, plus riding a bike.

The extended basic school programme is provided by fully qualified teachers.

Teaching methods and materials

Knowledge standards, objectives and main contents for each subject are stipulated by the relevant subject curriculum.

Within this framework, teachers are autonomous regarding teaching methods and may adjust the content to fit specific circumstances.

The curriculum is supported by special didactic recommendations. Their purpose is to encourage teachers to promote pupil's active participation in knowledge acquisition and development of skills and competences through suitable didactic techniques. The recommendations also focus on pupil-centered learning process.

Textbooks are approved by the National Expert Council for General Education. Workbooks are not subject to approval.

There are several textbooks available for individual subjects. The school makes an autonomous decision on the textbooks, workbooks and other teaching aids.

Textbook funds operate at each basic school and allow all pupils to borrow textbooks free of charge. Since 2019/2020 all pupils in grades 1 and 2 receive all required textbooks and workbooks from the school free of charge.

Since the parents purchase workbooks for pupils from grade 3 up, the parents’ council approves the price of the workbook package, selected by the school staff.