Indicator D1. How much time do students spend in the classroom?

Highlights
  • Students in OECD countries and economies receive an average of 7 590 hours of compulsory instruction during their primary and lower secondary education, ranging from 5 973 hours in Hungary to almost double that in Australia (11 000 hours) and Denmark (10 960 hours).

  • Across OECD countries and economies, compulsory instruction time for primary students averages 799 hours per year, while lower secondary students receive an average of 120 more hours of compulsory education per year than primary students (919 hours).

  • On average across OECD countries and economies, instruction in reading, writing and literature; mathematics; and the arts represents 52% of compulsory instruction time for primary school students, and instruction in reading, writing and literature; second and other languages; and mathematics represents about 42% of compulsory instruction time for lower secondary school students.

Context

Providing instruction in formal classroom settings accounts for a large portion of public investment in education. Countries make various choices concerning the overall amount of time devoted to instruction and which subjects are compulsory. These choices reflect national and/or regional priorities and preferences concerning what material students should be taught and at what age. Almost all countries have statutory or regulatory requirements regarding hours of instruction. These are most often stipulated as the minimum number of hours of instruction a school must offer and are based on the understanding that sufficient time is required for good learning outcomes. Matching resources with students’ needs and making optimal use of time are central to education policy. Teachers’ salaries, institutional maintenance and the provision of other educational resources constitute the main costs of education. The length of time during which these resources are made available to students (as partly shown in this indicator) is an important factor in determining how funds for education are allocated (see Indicator C7, which shows the factors influencing the salary cost of teachers per student). There is growing awareness of the importance of time spent outside the classroom during the school day in activities other than instruction, including recesses and breaks. In addition to formal instruction time, students may participate in extracurricular activities before and/or after the school day or during school holidays, but these activities (as well as examination periods) are outside the scope of this indicator.

Other findings

  • The proportion of the compulsory curriculum for primary students devoted to reading, writing and literature ranges from 18% in Portugal to 38% in France; for lower secondary students, it ranges from 9% in Ireland (for English, one of the two national languages) to 25% in Greece (and 33% in Italy, including social studies).

  • The proportion of the compulsory curriculum devoted to mathematics at the primary level ranges from 12% in Denmark to 27% in Mexico; at the lower secondary level, it ranges from about 11% in Hungary, Ireland and Korea to 16% in Chile, Latvia and the Russian Federation (and 20% in Italy, including natural sciences).

  • Except for a few countries where the compulsory curriculum is mostly devoted to flexible subjects, in OECD countries and economies, an average of 1% or less of compulsory instruction time for primary students and lower secondary students is devoted to subjects with a flexible timetable. An average of 5% of compulsory instruction time both at the primary level and at the lower secondary level is devoted to flexible subjects chosen by schools.

  • In one-quarter of countries with available data, the allocation of instruction time across grades is flexible (i.e. instruction time for a specific subject is defined for a certain number of grades or even the whole of compulsory education, without specifying the time to be allocated to each grade).

Figure D1.1. Compulsory instruction time in general education (2019)
Primary and lower secondary education, in public institutions
Figure D1.1. Compulsory instruction time in general education (2019)

1. Estimated number of hours by level of education based on the average number of hours per year, as for some subjects, the allocation of instruction time across multiple levels is flexible.

2. Year of reference 2018.

3. The number of grades in lower secondary education is three or four, depending on the track. The fourth year of pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO) was excluded from the calculation.

Countries and economies are ranked in ascending order of the total number of compulsory instruction hours.

Source: OECD (2019), Table D1.1. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933979671

Analysis

Compulsory general education

Both annual instruction time and the length of compulsory education have an impact on the total instruction time during compulsory education. In some countries, the duration of compulsory education is shorter, and students could bear a heavier annual workload based on statutory requirements. In other countries, the workload is distributed evenly over more years. This indicator focuses on compulsory education at primary and lower secondary levels. However, in some countries such as the Netherlands, pre-primary education is also compulsory, so the starting age for compulsory education is younger than the age at which primary education starts (see Annex 3 for more details on the length of compulsory education). Moreover, in around three out of five countries and economies with available data, at least one year of upper secondary education is part of compulsory full-time education (Table D1.1).

In around three out of four countries and economies with available data, students are required to start primary education at the age of 6. In most other countries, students are not required to start until they are 7, as in Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Russian Federation and Sweden. Only in Australia, England (United Kingdom), New Zealand and Scotland (United Kingdom) does primary education start at age 5.

There is also substantial variation in the duration of primary education. On average across OECD countries and economies, primary education lasts six years, but it ranges from four years in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, the Russian Federation, the Slovak Republic and Turkey to seven years in Australia, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Scotland (United Kingdom). Lower secondary education averages three years, but ranges from two years in Chile and the Flemish and French communities of Belgium to five years in Germany, the Russian Federation and the Slovak Republic, and six years in Lithuania (Table D1.2).

Countries also allocate annual instruction time differently over the year. The number of instruction days and the way they are distributed across the school year can vary significantly between countries, as countries organise holidays differently (Box D1.1). Within these instruction days, countries also vary in the way they organise recess and breaks (see Box D1.2 in OECD (2018[1])).

Box D1.1. Organisation of breaks within in the school year in lower secondary education (2019)

The length of the school year varies greatly between countries, implying that there is also wide variation in the number of weeks students are not at school across countries. Countries organise the school year in different ways, in terms of the frequency and length of school breaks during the school year.

School breaks are usually defined for the whole country, but can differ between subnational entities, especially in federal countries. Breaks are usually similar at primary and lower secondary levels, but breaks at the end of the school year at lower secondary level are two weeks shorter than primary level in Greece, one week shorter in the Russian Federation, one week longer in Iceland, Israel and Portugal, and three weeks longer in Ireland (see Box D1.1 in OECD (2018[1]) for more information on breaks within the school year at the primary level).

The distribution of breaks during the school year can also be flexible according to regions. For example, dates for school breaks are defined according to the three zones of France, and similar flexibility occurs for several or all breaks in federal countries, as well as in Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, England (United Kingdom), Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and the Slovak Republic (see Annex 3 for the organisation of the school year at primary and lower secondary levels).

In all countries, the longest break is the one between two successive school years. Focusing on lower secondary education, and excluding Colombia, the break between two successive years varies from a minimum of 5 weeks in some subnational entities in Switzerland up to 13 weeks in Chile (11-13 weeks), Italy (12-13 weeks), Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal (12-13 weeks), the Russian Federation and Turkey. In nearly all countries with available information, this break between two school years represents at least half of the school holiday time (see Figure D1.a).

In addition to this long break, students usually have three to four other shorter holiday periods during the school year. England (United Kingdom), Luxembourg and Scotland (United Kingdom), as well as some Länder in Germany offer a fifth break during the third term of the school year.

Breaks during the school year differ in both length and timing, but the main common break period is at the end of calendar year, corresponding to either an approximately two-week break (in the northern hemisphere), or the end of the school year in the southern hemisphere. Differences in the timing of breaks may result from flexible calendar dates (e.g. for holidays such as Easter).

In most countries, the length of the different breaks within the school year varies significantly, from a few days to two weeks. Exceptions to this pattern are Denmark, Lithuania, the Russian Federation and Slovenia, with one-week breaks (three to four during the school year), and Australia, France, Greece and New Zealand, with two-week breaks (from two in Greece to four in France). Belgium, England (United Kingdom), Luxembourg and Poland alternate one-week and two-week breaks during the school year.

Figure D1.a. School breaks in compulsory general lower secondary education (2019)
Figure D1.a. School breaks in compulsory general lower secondary education (2019)

Note: Breaks exclude public/religious days, except if these days are included in longer breaks.

1. Minimum length of breaks as some may be longer for some regions within the country.

2. Data for Nordrhein-Westfalen. The length of breaks for Germany are indicative only as variation between and among jurisdictions can occur.

Countries and economies are ranked in descending order of the number of weeks of breaks during the school year.

Source: OECD (2019). See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933979728

Compulsory instruction time

Compulsory instruction time refers to the amount and allocation of instruction time that must be provided in almost every public school and must be attended by almost all public sector students, as per public regulations.

Students in OECD countries and economies receive an average of 4 568 hours of compulsory instruction during primary school and 3 022 hours during lower secondary education. While the total compulsory instruction time for primary and lower secondary students averages 7 590 hours (in 9 years on average) across OECD countries and economies, formal instruction-time requirements range from 5 973 hours in Hungary (in 8 years) to 11 000 hours in Australia (in 11 years) (Figure D1.1). In England (United Kingdom), New Zealand and Scotland (United Kingdom), the regulations do not prescribe the total compulsory instruction time in schools. However, schools are required to be open for instruction for a minimum number of hours per day (New Zealand) or to allow sufficient instruction time to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum that includes all statutory requirements (for variations in instruction time at the subnational level, see Box D1.3).

Box D1.2. Comparability of data on instruction time (2019)

Data on (intended) instruction time as established in public regulations are gathered through a data collection exercise based on agreed international standards and methodologies to ensure the comparability of the data reported. However, comparability issues can arise not just because of deviations from these guidelines, but due to differences in the way instruction time is defined in official documents.

Type of information on instruction time

Intended instruction time often refers to the minimum required instruction time, but it can also refer to recommended instruction time. Both may imply that schools or local levels have some flexibility to adjust this number of hours of instruction. In some countries, the data can refer to a mix of different types of data. For example, Denmark reports minimum instruction time for three subjects (reading, writing and literature, mathematics and history) for each grade, but recommended instruction time for other subjects.

Whereas intended instruction time is usually similar across schools throughout the whole country, in some countries it is a weighted average based on various regulations. This is the case when intended instruction times vary for different groups of the population (e.g. in Latvia and Lithuania, for schools for minority groups), or for different tracks within general programmes (e.g. in Chile for tracks with or without Jornada Escolar Completa, and in Italy for various upper secondary programmes in licei) or between subnational entities (often the case in federal countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany and the United States).

Number of days of instruction per year

Most countries regulate the length of a school year as a number of days of instruction (either a number of days per school year, or a number of days per week combined with a number of weeks per year). These numbers do not take into account the fact that the (statutory) length of one school day may vary. For example in Austria, Denmark and Korea, the number of lessons per week and therefore the length of the school day varies from one grade to another within primary level. Few countries take into account different lengths of the school day to determine the number of days of instruction per year. In the Flemish Community of Belgium and France, 4.5 days of instruction per week are considered, as students do not go to school on Wednesday afternoon. This may result in fewer days of instruction compared to countries with no differentiation of the length of the school day across the week or year.

Number of hours of instruction.

Instruction time is displayed in hours (of 60 minutes) to ensure the comparability of data across countries. However, official documents can define instruction time based on other units of time. About one-half of the countries define instruction time as a number of periods of instruction and/or for a different reference unit of time than the school year. Converting this information into hours per year may raise difficulties. In some countries, the length of a period of instruction is not uniform across the country. In this case, an average (for example in Costa Rica and Greece) or the most prevalent value (in Latvia) is used to convert periods into hours of instruction. About one-third of countries and economies also define instruction time per week rather than per school year, so the weekly values are multiplied by the defined or estimated number of weeks in the school year.

To ensure the comparability of hours of instruction, breaks between period/sessions are excluded. However, in some countries, breaks with educational activities are included in the prescribed intended instruction time, although they are excluded from reported intended instruction time to comply with the international definition. For example in Denmark, breaks are a part of regulated compulsory instruction time in both primary and lower secondary education. Similarly, in Spain, primary education legislations in autonomous communities includes breaks in compulsory instruction time (87.5 hours per year).

For more information on comparability issues, see notes for specific countries in Annex 3.

Instruction may also occur outside compulsory school hours and outside the classroom or school. In some countries, secondary school students are encouraged to take after-school classes in subjects already taught in school to help them improve their performance. Students can participate in after-school lessons in the form of remedial catch-up classes or enrichment courses, with individual tutors or in group lessons provided by school teachers, or in other independent courses (see Box D1.2 in OECD (2017[2])). These lessons can be financed through public funds or by students and their families (see Box D1.1 in OECD (2011[3])).

This indicator on compulsory instruction time only captures the time spent by students in formal classroom settings (as established in public regulations). This is only a part of the total time students spend receiving instruction. It does not show the actual number of hours of instruction that students receive and does not cover learning outside the formal classroom setting.

Box D1.3. Subnational variation in compulsory instruction time at the primary and lower secondary levels

Compulsory instruction time varies across OECD countries at all levels of education. It can also vary significantly among subnational entities within a single county, especially in federal countries where instruction time requirements may be defined at the subnational level. These variations are illustrated by the subnational data on compulsory instruction time at the primary and lower secondary levels in 2019 provided by four countries (Belgium, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States).

At the primary level, Belgium has the smallest variation in the total number of compulsory instruction hours between subnational entities: the total number of compulsory instruction hours varies by less than 1% (40 hours) between the French and Flemish communities (4 956 hours compared with 4 916 hours). The difference between subnational entities exceeds 6% (342 hours) in the United Kingdom (Wales and Northern Ireland only). In Canada, the variation in intended instruction hours (compulsory and non-compulsory hours) between subnational entities reaches 15% (745 hours). It is even larger in the United States, where the difference between the lowest and highest total compulsory instruction hours reaches 3 240 hours.

The same general pattern is observed at the lower secondary level, although all four countries have smaller subnational variations at this level than at the primary level. The total number of compulsory instruction hours at the lower secondary level varies very slightly between subnational entities in Belgium (2 hours). The variation exceeds 3% (about 86 hours) in the United Kingdom (Wales and Northern Ireland only). In Canada, intended instruction time varies by 13% (353 hours) across subnational entities. In the United States, the difference between the subnational entities reaches 1 620 hours.

The extent of these variations may be related to differences across subnational entities in the number of annual days of instruction at both the primary and lower secondary levels. In 2019, the number of annual days of compulsory instruction varied by 10 days across subnational entities in Canada (from 180 to 190 days), in Belgium by 19 days at the primary level (from 158 to 177 days) and 17 days at the lower secondary level (from 160 to 177 days), and by 26 days in the United States (from 160 to 186 days). In contrast, there is no difference in the number of annual days of instruction across subnational entities in the United Kingdom (190 days).

Source: Education at a Glance Database. http://stats.oecd.org.

Intended instruction time

Total intended instruction time is the estimated number of hours during which schools are obliged to offer instruction in compulsory and, if applicable, non-compulsory subjects.

Intended and compulsory instruction time are the same (i.e. intended instruction time is fully compulsory) for primary and lower secondary students in about three out of four countries with available data. In Finland, France (lower secondary), Greece, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal (primary) and Slovenia, the intended instruction time is at least 5% longer than the compulsory instruction time. However, intended instruction time could be different from actual instruction time (see Box D1.2).

Figure D1.2a. Instruction time per subject in primary education (2019)
As a percentage of total compulsory instruction time, in public institutions
Figure D1.2a. Instruction time per subject in primary education (2019)

1. Year of reference 2018.

2. Excludes England (United Kingdom), Flemish Comm. (Belgium), French Comm. (Belgium), Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal.

3. Excludes the first three years of primary education for which a large proportion of the time allocated to compulsory subjects is flexible.

Countries and economies are ranked in descending order of the proportion of instruction hours devoted to reading, writing and literature.

Source: OECD (2019), Table D1.3a. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933979690

Instruction time per subject

On average across OECD countries, primary students spend 52% of the compulsory instruction time on three subjects: reading, writing and literature (25%); mathematics (17%); and the arts (10%). Together with physical education and health (9%), natural sciences (7%) and social studies (6%), these six study areas form the major part of the curriculum in all OECD countries where instruction time per subject is specified. Second and other languages; religion, ethics and moral education; information and communication technologies (ICT); technology; practical and vocational skills; and other subjects make up the remainder of the non-flexible compulsory curriculum at the primary level, representing about 19% of the compulsory instruction time on average across OECD countries (Table D1.3a and Figure D1.2a).

At the lower secondary level, on average across OECD countries and economies, about 42% of the compulsory curriculum is composed of three subjects: reading, writing and literature (15%); second and other languages (15%); and mathematics (13%). On average, an additional 12% of the compulsory curriculum is devoted to natural sciences, 11% to social studies, 8% to physical education and health, and 7% to the arts. These seven study areas form the major part of the curriculum for this level of education in all OECD countries where instruction time per subject is specified. Religion, ethics and moral education; ICT; technology; practical and vocational skills; and other subjects make up the remainder (about 12%) of the non-flexible compulsory curriculum for students at this level of education (Table D1.3b and Figure D1.2b).

Figure D1.2b. Instruction time per subject in general lower secondary education (2019)
As a percentage of total compulsory instruction time, in public institutions
Figure D1.2b. Instruction time per subject in general lower secondary education (2019)

1. Reading, writing and literature includes social studies. Mathematics includes natural sciences.

2. Excludes England (United Kingdom), Flemish Comm. (Belgium), Ireland, the Netherlands and Portugal.

3. Natural sciences includes information and communication technologies and practical and vocational skills.

4. Year of reference 2018.

Countries and economies are ranked in descending order of the proportion of instruction hours devoted to reading, writing and literature.

Source: OECD (2019), Table D1.3b. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933979709

This is a significant shift in the allocation of time from primary schooling. On average across OECD countries and economies, instruction in reading, writing and literature drops from 25% of compulsory instruction time to 15%, and instruction in mathematics drops from 17% of compulsory instruction time to 13%. Conversely, instruction in natural sciences climbs from 7% of the compulsory curriculum to 12%, and in social studies from 6% to 11%, while instruction in other languages (second and others) climbs from 6% to 15%. At the national level, instruction in second and other languages accounts for the largest share of the compulsory core curriculum at the lower secondary level in Costa Rica, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg and Sweden (Table D1.3a and b).

At the lower secondary level, there is substantial variation in how countries allocate time to the different subjects within the compulsory curriculum. For example, reading, writing and literature account for 12% or less of compulsory instruction time in Australia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Japan and Sweden, but more than 25% of compulsory instruction time in Greece and Italy (in Italy, this also includes time devoted to social studies). In Ireland, reading, writing and literature are taught in two national languages, and therefore the combined instruction time of two languages could reach about 15% of the total compulsory instruction time. Compulsory instruction time devoted to second and other languages also varies widely between countries. Second-language instruction accounts for less than 7% of compulsory instruction time in Greece and Ireland and 13% or more in the French Community of Belgium, Iceland and Japan. In addition, more than 4 out of 10 countries with available data allocate some compulsory instruction time for lower secondary students to instruction in another language in addition to a second language.

As the difference between the primary and lower secondary levels shows, there are significant differences in how time is allocated to school subjects as students grow older. On average across OECD countries, 28% of instruction time is devoted to reading, writing and literature for 7-year-olds, 19% for 11-year-olds and 12% for 15-year-olds. In contrast, while an average of 3% of instruction time for 7-year-olds is devoted to a second language, 10% of instruction time for 11-year-olds is spent studying a second language and 1% studying other languages, while for 15-year-olds, 9% of instruction time is devoted to a second language and 5% to other languages. The share of instruction time dedicated to natural sciences increases from 6% for 7-year-olds to 9% for 11-year-olds and 12% for 15-year-olds, while instruction time in social studies increases from 5% for 7-year-olds to 9% for 11-year-olds and 10% for 15-year-olds. The portion of instruction time dedicated to the arts decreases from 11% for 7-year olds and 9% for 11-year-olds to 4% for 15-year-olds, and similarly the portion for the physical education declines from 10% for 7-year-olds and 8% for 11-year-olds to 6% for 15-year-olds (Tables D1.5b, f and j, available on line).

Flexibility in the curriculum

In most countries, central and state authorities establish regulations or recommendations regarding instruction time and the curriculum. However, local authorities, schools, teachers and/or students also have varying degrees of freedom in organising instruction time or in choosing subjects.

In one-quarter of countries with available data, the allocation of instruction time across grades is flexible (i.e. instruction time for a specific subject is defined for a certain number of grades or even the whole of compulsory education, without specifying the time to be allocated to each grade). In such cases, schools/local authorities are free to decide how much time should be allocated for each grade (Table D1.2).

Setting compulsory subjects within a flexible timetable is the practice for most subjects in a few countries. In Portugal, more than half of the compulsory curriculum at the primary level is organised within a flexible timetable, and the proportion exceeds 80% in the Flemish and French communities of Belgium and Italy. In England (United Kingdom) and the Netherlands, the whole curriculum at the primary level is organised as a flexible timetable. At the lower secondary level, similar patterns are found in the Flemish Community of Belgium, England (United Kingdom), the Netherlands and Portugal. In these countries and economies, compulsory subjects and/or total instruction time are specified, but not how time should be allocated to each subject. Local authorities, schools and/or teachers are free to decide how much time to allocate to each compulsory subject. In Scotland (United Kingdom), at both primary and lower secondary levels, some compulsory subjects are specified, but there is no regulation on total instruction time, which is the responsibility of local authorities and schools themselves. Excluding these countries and economies, compulsory subjects with flexible timetables account for less than 1% of the compulsory instruction time at both primary and lower secondary levels, even if they are a significant part of the curriculum in some countries. Flexible timetables account for more than 10% of the compulsory subjects only in Canada at the primary level.

Flexibility in the choice of subjects is less common across OECD countries. On average, 5% of compulsory instruction time is allocated to subjects chosen by schools at the primary level. At the lower secondary level, 5% of compulsory instruction time is allocated to subjects chosen by schools and another 4% to subjects chosen by students. However, some countries allocate a substantial part of the compulsory instruction time to flexible subjects. For example, about 10% or more of compulsory instruction time is allocated to subjects chosen by schools in Canada (lower secondary), Chile, the Czech Republic, Estonia (primary), the French Community of Belgium (lower secondary), Hungary, the Slovak Republic (lower secondary) and Spain (primary). At least 20% of compulsory instruction time is allocated in this way in Australia (29% at the primary level and 22% at lower secondary level), the Flemish Community of Belgium (20% at lower secondary level), Ireland (60% at lower secondary level) and Spain (23% at lower secondary level). In Australia, Iceland, Norway and Turkey, 15-20% of compulsory instruction time is allocated to subjects chosen by lower secondary students (Table D1.3a and b).

Non-compulsory instruction time

Non-compulsory instruction time is rare across OECD countries. Only six countries at primary level and eight countries at lower secondary level devote a known amount of time to non-compulsory instruction. Across OECD countries, non-compulsory instruction time is equivalent to an average of 4% of the total compulsory instruction time for both primary students and lower secondary students. However, a considerable amount of additional non-compulsory instruction time is provided in some countries. At the primary level, additional non-compulsory time accounts for 53% of the total compulsory instruction time in Greece, 14% in Portugal and 21% in Slovenia. At the lower secondary level, non-compulsory instruction time accounts for 11% of the total compulsory instruction time in Finland, 20% in France, 32% in Greece, 15% in Lithuania and 23% in Slovenia (Table D1.3a and b).

Definitions

Compulsory instruction time/curriculum refers to the amount and allocation of instruction time that has to be provided in almost every public school and must be attended by almost all public sector students. The compulsory curriculum may be flexible, as local authorities, schools, teachers and/or students may have varying degrees of freedom to choose the subjects and/or the allocation of compulsory instruction time.

Compulsory flexible subjects chosen by schools refers to the total amount of compulsory instruction time indicated by the central authorities, which regional authorities, local authorities, schools or teachers allocate to subjects of their choice (or subjects they chose from a list defined by central education authorities). It is compulsory for the school to offer one of these subjects, and students must attend.

Compulsory options chosen by the students refers to the total amount of instruction time in one or more subjects that pupils have to select (from a set of subjects that are compulsory for schools to offer) in order to cover part of their compulsory instruction time.

Compulsory subjects with a flexible timetable refers to the total amount of instruction time indicated by the central authorities for a given group of subjects, which regional authorities, local authorities, schools or teachers allocate to individual subjects. There is flexibility in the time spent on a subject, but not in the subjects to be taught.

Flexible allocation of instruction time across multiple grades refers to the case where the curriculum only indicates the total instruction time for a specific subject for a certain number of grades, or even the whole of compulsory education, without specifying the time to be allocated to each grade. In such cases, schools/local authorities are free to decide how much time should be assigned for each grade.

Instruction time refers to the time a public school is expected to provide instruction to students on all the subjects integrated into the compulsory and non-compulsory curriculum, on school premises or in before-school/after-school activities that are formal parts of the compulsory programme. Instruction time excludes breaks between classes or other types of interruptions, non-compulsory time outside the school day, time dedicated to homework activities, individual tutoring or private study and examination periods (days for non-school-based examinations, e.g. national examinations).

Intended instruction time refers to the number of hours per year of the compulsory and non-compulsory part of the curriculum that students are entitled to receive in public schools. The intended curriculum can be based on regulations or standards of the central (or top-level) education authorities or may be established as a set of recommendations at the regional level.

The non-compulsory part of the curriculum refers to the total amount of instruction time that public schools must offer on top of the compulsory instruction time, but which is not mandatory for all students. Subjects can vary from school to school or from region to region and take the form of optional subjects. Additional activities before/after classes offered by the school are not per se part of the non-compulsory curriculum, for instance, if there is no obligation upon public schools to provide this instruction time or it is not part of the official curricula. In particular, non-compulsory education excludes morning care classes or after-school care classes, even if they are officially regulated.

Methodology

This indicator captures intended instruction time (as established in public regulations) as a measure of learning in formal classroom settings. It does not show the actual number of hours of instruction that students receive and does not cover learning outside of the formal classroom setting. Differences may exist across countries between the regulatory minimum hours of instruction and the actual hours of instruction received by students. Given such factors as school timetables, lesson cancellations and teacher absenteeism, schools may not consistently attain the regulatory minimum instruction time (see Box D1.1 in OECD (2007[4])).

The indicator also illustrates how minimum (and/or recommended) instruction hours are allocated across different curricular areas. It shows the intended net hours of instruction for those grades that are part of compulsory full-time general education. Although the data are difficult to compare among countries because of different curricular policies, they nevertheless provide an indication of how much formal instruction time is considered necessary for students to achieve the desired educational goals.

When the allocation of instruction time across grades is flexible (i.e. instruction time for a specific subject is defined for a certain number of grades, or even the whole of compulsory education, without specifying the time to be allocated to each grade), instruction time per age or level of education was estimated by assuming equal distribution of the total number of instruction hours between grades.

For more information please see the OECD Handbook for Internationally Comparable Education Statistics (OECD, 2018[5]) and Annex 3 for country-specific notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

Source

Data on instruction time are from the 2018 Joint Eurydice-OECD Instruction time data collection and refer to instruction time during compulsory primary and full-time (lower and upper) secondary general education for the school year 2018/19.

Note regarding data from Israel

The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and are under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

References

[1] OECD (2018), Education at a Glance 2018: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2018-en.

[5] OECD (2018), OECD Handbook for Internationally Comparative Education Statistics 2018: Concepts, Standards, Definitions and Classifications, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264304444-en.

[2] OECD (2017), Education at a Glance 2017: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2017-en.

[3] OECD (2011), Education at a Glance 2011: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2011-en.

[4] OECD (2007), Education at a Glance 2007: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2007-en.

Indicator D1. Tables

Table D1.1. Instruction time in compulsory general education (2019)

Table D1.2 Organisation of compulsory general education (2019)

Table D1.3a Instruction time per subject in primary education (2019)

Table D1.3b Instruction time per subject in general lower secondary education (2019)

WEB Table D1.4 Instruction time in compulsory general education, by age (2019)

WEB Table D1.5a Instruction time per subject for 6-year-olds (2019)

WEB Table D1.5b Instruction time per subject for 7-year-olds (2019)

WEB Table D1.5c Instruction time per subject for 8-year-olds (2019)

WEB Table D1.5d Instruction time per subject for 9-year-olds (2019)

WEB Table D1.5e Instruction time per subject for 10-year-olds (2019)

WEB Table D1.5f Instruction time per subject for 11-year-olds (2019)

WEB Table D1.5g Instruction time per subject for 12-year-olds (2019)

WEB Table D1.5h Instruction time per subject for 13-year-olds (2019)

WEB Table D1.5i Instruction time per subject for 14-year-olds (2019)

WEB Table D1.5j Instruction time per subject for 15-year-olds (2019)

WEB Table D1.5k Instruction time per subject for 16-year-olds (2019)

WEB Table D1.5l Instruction time per subject for 17-year-olds (2019)

Cut-off date for the data: 19 July 2019. Any updates on data can be found on line at http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-data-en. More breakdowns can also be found at http://stats.oecd.org/, Education at a Glance Database.

StatLink: https://doi.org/10.1787/888933981191

Table D1.1. Instruction time in compulsory general education (2019)
By level of education, in public institutions
Table D1.1. Instruction time in compulsory general education (2019)

Note: Columns showing instruction time combined for compulsory primary and lower secondary education (i.e. Columns 15-18) and compulsory upper secondary education (i.e. Columns 19-25) are available for consultation on line. See Definitions and Methodology sections for more information. Data available at http://stats.oecd.org/, Education at a Glance Database.

Refers to full-time compulsory education and excludes pre-primary education, even if compulsory.

1. Estimated number of hours by level of education based on the average number of hours per year, as for some subjects, the allocation of instruction time across multiple levels is flexible.

2. Year of reference 2018.

3. Excludes the last year of compulsory education, which can be classified at either the lower secondary or the upper secondary level.

4. The number of grades in lower secondary education is three or four, depending on the track. The fourth year of pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO) was excluded from the calculation.

Source: OECD (2019). See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

Please refer to the Reader's Guide for information concerning symbols for missing data and abbreviations.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933979595

Table D1.2. Organisation of compulsory general education (2019)
By level of education, in public institutions
Table D1.2. Organisation of compulsory general education (2019)

Note: Students go to school five days a week (six days in Israel and secondary education in Italy). In some countries, the statutory length of the school days varies within the school week. Columns showing the organisation of compulsory upper secondary education (i.e. Columns 9-12) are available for consultation on line. See Definitions and Methodology sections for more information. Data available at http://stats.oecd.org/, Education at a Glance Database.

Refers to full-time compulsory education and excludes pre-primary education, even if compulsory.

1. For some subjects, allocation of instruction time across multiple levels of education is flexible.

2. Year of reference 2018.

3. Excludes the last year of compulsory education, which can be classified at either the lower secondary or the upper secondary level.

4. The number of grades in lower secondary education is three or four, depending on the track. The fourth year of pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO) was excluded from the calculation.

Source: OECD (2019). See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

Please refer to the Reader's Guide for information concerning symbols for missing data and abbreviations.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933979614

Table D1.3a. Instruction time per subject in primary education (2019)
As a percentage of total compulsory instruction time, in public institutions
Table D1.3a. Instruction time per subject in primary education (2019)

Note: The averages were adjusted to add up to 100% and do not correspond exactly to the average of each column. Please refer to Tables D1.5a to D1.5l, available on line, for instruction time per subject for each age (see StatLink at the end of the indicator). See Definitions and Methodology sections for more information. Data available at http://stats.oecd.org/, Education at a Glance Database.

1. For some subjects, allocation of instruction time across multiple levels of education is flexible.

2. Year of reference 2018.

3. The second language of instruction includes other national languages taught.

4. England (United Kingdom), Flemish Comm. (Belgium), French Comm. (Belgium), Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal are not included in the averages.

5. Excludes the first three years of primary education for which a large proportion of the time allocated to compulsory subjects is flexible.

Source: OECD (2019). See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

Please refer to the Reader's Guide for information concerning symbols for missing data and abbreviations.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933979633

Table D1.3b. Instruction time per subject in general lower secondary education (2019)
As a percentage of total compulsory instruction time, in public institutions
Table D1.3b. Instruction time per subject in general lower secondary education (2019)

Note: The averages were adjusted to add up to 100% and do not correspond exactly to the average of each column. Please refer to Tables D1.5a to D1.5l, available on line, for instruction time per subject for each age (see StatLink at the end of the indicator). See Definitions and Methodology sections for more information. Data available at http://stats.oecd.org/, Education at a Glance Database.

1. The intended instruction time derived from the Australian Curriculum assumes that certain subjects, which may be considered compulsory in years 7 and 8, could be delivered to students as electives in years 9 and 10.

2. For some subjects, allocation of instruction time across multiple levels of education is flexible.

3. Year of reference 2018.

4. The second language of instruction includes other national languages taught.

5. England (United Kingdom), Flemish Comm. (Belgium), Ireland, the Netherlands and Portugal are not included in the averages.

6. Instruction time for other languages is included in instruction time for the second language for grade 9.

Source: OECD (2019). See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

Please refer to the Reader's Guide for information concerning symbols for missing data and abbreviations.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933979652

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