The number of pupils learning foreign languages in compulsory education has increased year by year. In 2013-2014 80.8% of pupils learned a foreign language, more than ever before since data collection started for school year 1999-2000.
More younger pupils in compulsory schools learn English
English is the first foreign language taught in compulsory schools and also the most commonly learned language. During the school year 2013-2014, 34,579 pupils learned English in compulsory schools, 80.9%; an increase of 0.9 percentage points from the previous year. English lessons usually start in grade 4 but English is frequently taught in grades 1-3. Last school year 5,619 pupils in grades 1-3 studied English, or 42.5% of pupils in these grades (6-8 years old). A decade earlier, 211 pupils in these grades learned English, or 1.6%.
Fewer pupils learn three foreign languages
The number of pupils in compulsory schools learning three foreign languages has decreased since their number was greatest during the school year 2001-2002, 1,656 pupils. Last school year, 728 pupils in compulsory schools learned three foreign languages or more. The third foreign language is usually taught as an elective in Icelandic compulsory schools, usually at the lower secondary level.
German was the most commonly studied third foreign language at the lower secondary level until the school year 2006-2007, but since then Spanish has been the most studied language. Last school year 374 pupils in grades 8-10 learned Spanish, 198 French and 125 learned German.
More than one out of four pupils receives special support
During the school year 2013-2014, 12,203 pupils received some kind of special education or support, or 28.6% of all pupils. That is an increase of 764 pupils from the previous year, or 6.7%. Never before has a greater share of pupils received special support since Statistics Iceland started its data collection on special education in 2004-2005. Of pupils receiving special support 62.1% were boys and 37.9% were girls.
Pupils having a foreign mother tongue receiving special support for learning Icelandic were 2,123, more numerous in the lower grades of compulsory schools. Never before have more pupils received special support for learning Icelandic since Statistics Iceland started collecting these data in 2010-2011, when they were 1,442.
An increase in the number of hours for special education and support
During the school year 2013-2014, 46,255 teaching hours per week were used for special education and support in compulsory schools. The number of hours has never been greater, since Statistics Iceland started collecting these data for the school year 2004-2005. There were 18,293 teaching hours undertaken by special education teachers (39.5%) and 27,962 by assistant teachers (60.5%).
The share of hours taught by special education teachers has decreased in recent years. It was greatest during the school year 2004-2005, 43.6% of all hours used for special education and support.
All grades fulfil the legal requirement on the minimum number of weekly instruction hours
During the school year 2013-2014 pupils in grades 1-10 received a total of 340.2 lessons per week. The total weekly instruction time has decreased by 0.3 instruction hours on average since the school year 2012-2013. On average, the legal requirement on the minimum number of weekly instruction hours was fulfilled for all grades.
There were 178.2 school days on average
According to the law on compulsory schools from 2008 the annual school period for pupils should not be shorter than 9 months. The number of pupils’ school days during the school year should not be fewer than 180. The school period is counted in school days, which are divided into teaching days, examination/assessment days and other teaching days. Other teaching days are days when teaching according to the timetable does not take place, such as when field trips and school trips are organised.
The average number of school days for all grades in 2013-2014 was 178.2 which is a decrease of 0.8 days from the previous school year. The main reason for the decrease was a one day’s teachers’ strike in May 2014.