There were 19,362 children attending pre-primary schools in Iceland in December 2015, a decrease of 576 (-2.9%) children from the previous year. This decrease is the result of smaller cohorts, as the proportion of children attending pre-primary schools is approximately the same as the previous year. At the same time, there were 5,966 staff members working in pre-primary schools, 53 fewer (-0.9%) than in the previous year, while the number of full-time equivalent staff decreased by 31 (-0.6%).
There were 251 pre-primary schools operating in Iceland in December 2015, four fewer than in the previous year. A total of 217 schools were operated by the municipalities while 34 were run by others. The number of pre-primary schools was greatest in 2009, when there were 282 schools operating.
More than one-half of staff working in education and childcare is unskilled
In December 2015 there were 1,758 licenced pre-primary school teachers in pre-primary schools in Iceland, 32.2% of staff working in education and childcare. Their number has decreased by 202 from 2013, when their number was the greatest. The number of staff with other pedagogical education, e.g. compulsory school teachers, social pedagogues, staff with a diploma in pre-primary education and assistant pre-school teachers, decreased by 97 since 2014. Unskilled staff was more than one-half (52.2%) of staff working in education and childcare in December 2015, and their number has increased year by year from 2011. When looking at full-time equivalents, unskilled staff was 49.3% of staff working in education and childcare.
Fewer males work in pre-primary schools
In recent years the number of male staff in pre-primary schools has been increasing. However, the number of male staff declined by 34 from December 2014 to 2015, resulting in 350 male staff members in December 2015. They were 5.9% of staff, down from 6.4% in December 2014.
The number of children receiving special support increased from the previous year
In December 2015, 1,979 children received special support because of a handicap or social or emotional difficulties, a total of 10.2% of all pre-school children. The number of children receiving support has increased year by year and was 3.7% when Statistics Iceland started its data collection in 1998. As in previous years boys were more numerous among children receiving support; 1,304 boys and 675 girls received support in 2015.
The number of children with foreign citizenship decreased but more children have a foreign mother tongue
In 2001, 159 children had foreign citizenship, 1.0% of children in pre-primary schools, but 1,165 children in December 2015; 6.0% of children. The number of children with foreign citizenship decreased for the first time since Statistics Iceland started collecting data on citizenship in 2001, and were 69 fewer than in 2014, when they were 6,2% of pre-school children.
At the same time the number of children with a foreign mother tongue increased from 755 (4.8% of pre-school children) in 2001 to 2,435 (12.6% of pre-school children). The number of children with a foreign mother tongue increased by 238 between 2014 and 2015, or by 10.8%. Polish was the most common foreign language of pre-primary school children as in recent years, with 935 children speaking Polish in December 2015. The second most common language was English (198 children) followed by Philippine languages (139 children).
The data on citizenship for 2001-2007 are not totally comparable to data from 2008, since they are based on a different source.
The daily attendance of children increases
The children’s daily attendance has been increasing. In December 2015 86.8% of pre-school children stayed in school for 8 hours or longer per day, compared to 40.3% in 1998. At the same time the number of children attending pre-school for half a day daily has decreased considerably.