In December 2018 there were 1,600 licenced pre-primary school teachers in pre-primary schools in Iceland, 28.1% of staff working in education and childcare. Their number has decreased by 360 from 2013, when their number was greatest. The number of teachers under the age of 30 decreased in particular, as the duration of the teachers’ programme was increased by two years a few years ago. However, that is not the only reason for the reduction in the number of teachers, as their numbers declined in all age groups under the age of 50.

The number of staff with other pedagogical education was 1,068, e.g. compulsory school teachers, social pedagogues, staff with a diploma in pre-primary education and assistant pre-school teachers. Unskilled staff was more than one-half (53.2%) of staff working in education and childcare in December 2018.

In December 2018 there were 6,176 staff members working in pre-primary schools, 158 more (2.6%) than in the previous year, even though there were fewer children attending pre-primary schools than in 2017. The number of full-time equivalent staff increased by 2.1% and was 5,400.


More than 16% increase the in number of males working in pre-primary schools
There were 434 male staff members in pre-primary schools in December 2018, the highest number so far. The proportion of male staff was 7.0%, a 16.4% increase from December 2017. Males were 6.6% of staff in education and childcare and 12.1% of other staff, e.g. canteen staff and cleaning personnel.

Almost half of the one year old children attend pre-primary schools
There were almost 19 thousand children attending pre-primary schools in Iceland in December 2018, 1.4% fewer than in the previous year. There was a smaller reduction in the number of computed child equivalents, or 0.8%, but computed child equivalents are computed to estimate the need for staff in pre-primary schools. The reason is that the number of younger children increased more but they weigh more in computed child equivalents as more staff members are needed for younger children than for older ones. The proportion of 1-5 year old children attending pre-primary schools was unchanged from the previous year, or 87%. A total of 95-97% of 2-5 year olds attended pre-primary school and 48% of one year old children. The proportion of one year olds in pre-primary schools varies greatly by region. In the Westfjords, 79% of one year old children attended pre-primary school and 68% in the East. The proportion of one year old children was by far the lowest in the Southwest, 11%.

More children have a foreign mother tongue and foreign citizenship
There were 2,572 children with a foreign mother tongue in December 2018, 13.7% of all pre-school children and more than ever before. Polish was the most common foreign language as in recent years, with 985 children speaking Polish. The second most common mother tongue was English (265 children), followed by Spanish (117 children) and Lithuanian (103 children). Other foreign languages were spoken by fewer than 100 children.

At the same time the number of children with foreign citizenship had increased to 1,362 children; 7.3% of children in pre-primary schools. An increase was in particular observed among children from Asia, the Nordic countries and the Baltic countries.

pre-school2 The data on citizenship for 2001-2007 are not totally comparable to data from 2008, since they are based on a different source.

Almost 1,900 children received special support
In December 2018, 1,888 children received special support because of a handicap, social or emotional difficulties, a total of 10.1% of all pre-school children. The share of children receiving special support was similar to 2015, but higher than in 2016 and 2017, when 9.7% of children received support. As in previous years boys were more numerous among children receiving support; 12.9% of boys and 7.2% of girls received support in 2018. This is the largest share of girls receiving support since Statistics Iceland started its data collection.

More than 250 pre-primary schools
There were 253 pre-primary schools operating in Iceland in December 2018, one fewer than in the previous year. A total of 211 schools were operated by the municipalities, while 42 schools were run by others. In 2018 15 schools were open all year, but 184 schools were open for 48-49 weeks. The number of schools that are open all year has decreased, but they were 25 in 2008 and 89 in 1998. All the schools that were open all year in 2018 were located in the capital region outside of Reykjavík.