There have never been as many pupils in compulsory education in Iceland as in the autumn of 2019, or 46,254. The number of pupils increased by 350 from the previous year, or by 0.8%. The main explanation is a larger cohort that started compulsory education in the autumn of 2019 than the one that completed this education in the spring. The number of pupils also increased due to migration to Iceland.
There were 770 new pupils in grades 2-10 who were not pupils in compulsory schools in the autumn of 2018. Around one-half were Icelandic citizens and one-half had foreign citizenship. These data come from annual statistics on compulsory schools in October.
The number of pupils with a foreign mother tongue never higher
The number of pupils with a foreign mother tongue has increased year by year. In the autumn of 2019, 5,343 pupils in Icelandic compulsory schools had a foreign mother tongue, or 11.6% of pupils, an increase of 469 pupils from the previous year. Some of these pupils also speak Icelandic as their mother tongue. The most common foreign mother tongue is Polish, spoken by more than 1,800 pupils, and more than 300 speak Philippine languages or English. More than two hundred speak Lithuanian, Thai, Arabic or Spanish.
The number of pupils with foreign citizenship also increased from the previous year and was 2,900 in the autumn of 2019.
The number of pupils with a foreign mother tongue ranges from 427 to 660 pupils, with the largest number in grade 5 and the smallest in grade 1. In the last grade of compulsory education, grade 10, there are 442 pupils with a foreign mother tongue, 29 more than in the previous year. Judging from past experience, most of these pupils will start upper secondary education in the autumn of 2020.
On average there are 19.3 pupils in a class
On average there are 19.3 pupils in each class, when special education schools and departments are excluded. The average class size is smallest in grade 1, or 16.9, while the largest classes are in grade 9, with 20.5 pupils. Information is not available on the number of teachers teaching each class but in some cases large classes are taught by more than one teacher. Also, multi-grade teaching takes place in some schools, not only in small schools in the countryside.
There are 170 operating compulsory schools
There are 170 compulsory schools operating in Iceland in the 2019-2020 school year, one more than in the previous year. The compulsory school on the island Grímsey is not in operation this school year but two new schools opened last autumn; Helgafellsskóli and Stapaskóli. There are 13 private schools operating, the same number as last year, with almost 1,200 pupils. There are three special education schools operating with 162 pupils in attendance.
The largest compulsory schools in the 2019-2020 school year are located in the neighbouring municipalities to Reykjavík. They are Hörðuvallaskóli, with more than 900 pupils, and Varmárskóli with more than 800 pupils. The smallest school is Grunnskólinn á Borgarfirði eystra with four pupils in the autumn of 2019.