Great variation in instruction and “school-time” for teachers in the Nordic region

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There is remarkable variation in compulsory instruction time in the Nordic region. Instruction time is highest in Denmark and lowest in Finland. In Denmark the number of instruction time is highest also compared to other EU and OCD countries. Although teachers’ minimum teaching time does not vary very much, there are big differences in the time teachers are required to be present at their schools.
An infographic on the number of compulsory 60 minute lessons in the course of basic education in the Nordics and Estonia: Denmark 10 960, Norway 7894, Iceland 7616, Sweden 6890, Estonia 6431, Finland 6327, EU22 Average 7250, OECD Average 7533
Total number of 60-minute lessons during compulsory basic education, 2018. Data: OECD Education at a Glance 2018 Table D1.1

The difference in compulsory instruction time during basic education between Denmark and the other countries in the Nordic region varies from approximately 3 000 hours less in Norway to 4 600 hours less in Finland.

Basic education in Denmark was reformed in 2014. The reform aimed at improving the learning outcomes. One of the solutions was increasing the compulsory instruction time. The outcome was that the instruction time increased by 35 % in compulsory education.

Required working time for teachers at school lowest in Finland

The required time teachers are required to teach does not vary dramatically among the Nordic region countries. Norwegian primary teachers have the highest number of teaching hours per year and Estonian primary teachers the lowest.At lower secondary level Finnish teachers have the lowest and Norwegian and Danish teachers highest number of statutory teaching hours.

The teaching time for primary and lower secondary teachers is the same in all countries except Finland and Norway. In Finland lower secondary teachers teach 85 hours less and Norwegian lower secondary teachers 78 hours less than their peers in primary education. In Sweden teaching time is negotiated at school level.

The required time teachers are expected to be at their schools, however, varies clearly. This time is  lowest in Finland, nearly half of the required time in the other Nordic countries.

A graph on Finnish teacher's statutory annual working time in 2017: The required working time of Finnish teachers is significantly lower than in other Nordic countries and some 300 hours per year less than the OECD and EU22 averages, and their net teaching hours are some 100 hours less per year than the European averages

Comparing to other OECD countries, teachers in Nordic countries, except Finland, have to be available at their schools more than average. Also their annual statutory working time is higher than the OECD average, except in Estonia.

More information

Basic education in the Nordic region is a comparative report that aims at giving an overview of basic education in the Nordic region, in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

The report describes and provides statistical data on central features such as governance, structures, expenditure, accessibility and equity, quality assurance, support for learners and teachers.