City of Reykjavik / Iceland

Foto: Reykjavikurborg

Reykjavik City - Department of education and youth.

In the last years the educational system in Iceland has, to a large extent, been decentralized both with regard to responsibilities, finance and decision-making. In 1996 a new legislation concerning compulsory schools took effect and the municipalities took over the operation of schools at the compulsory level.

The law concerning compulsory education stipulates that education shall be mandatory for all children from 6 to 16 years, incl. special education. Municipalities are responsible for the establishment and the running of compulsory schools and preschools, including the provision of special education. They pay for instruction, general teaching, substitute teaching, administration and specialists´ service.

Reykjavik City Division of Education and Youth:*

- 62 pre-schools with 6.000 children from 18 months to 5 years of age and 18 independent pre-schools with 1.000 children. Around 800 children from 6-18 months of age stay with 200 home-daycare individuals.
- 31 elementary schools with 13.400 students from 6-15 years of age, and 6 independent elementary schools with 580 students.
- 5 schools where pre-school, elementary school and/or after-school programs are combined.
- 32 after-school programs and 4 leisure clubs for around 3.600 children.
- 21 youth centers with 180.000 attendances yearly.
- 4 school bands where 420 students learn to play an instrument
- Adult Education Center where around 250 individuals over 16 years of age receive education and 1.500 seek guidance counseling every year.
- They support 2.500 students in 18 music schools.
- They have about 1.740 full-time preschool and compulsory school teachers positions, out of total 3.913 full-time positions. 80% of their staff are women.
- They serve a diverse community
- Their children speak 70+ languages and come from over 97 different nationalities.
- About 300 elementary students learn Icelandic as a second language.
- About 8% of pre-school children and 25% of elementary students receive some special education support. Around 7% of children in after-school program receive special support. In addition they have three leisure clubs for children with disabilities.

Children and Youth in Reykjavik achieve success

- Students in final year of elementary school are over national average in Icelandic, mathematics and English in annual standardized tests 2012.
- PISA 2009 results for reading, mathematics and science were improved following a city-wide effort targeting those subjects.
- 90% of parents of pre-school children feel that the pre-school works well with social skills and 97% say that their children are happy at the pre-school.
- Around 75% of parents say that after-school programs and youth centers have positive influence on their children social competence and the activities are interesting.
- Over 90% of youth aged 13-15 take part in some form of leisure activities.
- They have good results in their schools where monitoring methods and prevention policy have significantly decreased students use of alcohol, drugs and smoking.
- Around 80% of students 12-15 years of age say they always do their best to learn the skills and knowledge presented in their studies.
- Over 90% of elementary school parents think their children are happy at school.

Inclusion and Equal Opportunities:

A fundamental principle of the Icelandic educational system is that everyone should have equal opportunities to acquire an education, irrespective of sex, economic status, residential location, religion, possible handicap, and cultural or social background.


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