Estonia background information


How the official decision of special educational needs (SEN) in the country relates to the agreed EASIE operational definition

Operational definition

An official decision leads to a child/learner being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.


Criteria for an official decision of SEN

  • There has been an educational assessment procedure involving a multi-disciplinary team
  • The multi-disciplinary team includes members from within and external to the child’s/learner’s (pre)school
  • There is a legal document which describes the support the child/learner is eligible to receive and which is used as the basis for planning
  • The official decision is subject to a formal, regular review process

Educational assessment procedure in the country

It involves the following stages:

  • Pedagogical-psychological assessment at school level
  • Additional external medical, psychological or psychiatric assessment
  • Regional counselling committee assesses special educational needs and recommends special education provision.

How the multi-disciplinary team is comprised in the country

The counselling committee has no less than five members. The counselling committee is required to include a special education teacher, a speech therapist, a school psychologist, a social worker and a representative from the county or city government. Where necessary, the counselling committee may involve other experts in its work.

The legal document used in the country to outline the support that the child/learner is eligible to receive

The Act of the Minister of Education and Research describes the support measures the child/learner is eligible to receive.

How the document is used as the basis for planning in the country

Schools must implement the requirements and support measures described in the Act of the Minister of Education and Research.

The formal, regular review process in the country

At the end of the period of applying the measures (or at least once per year), the special educational needs co-ordinator assesses the effectiveness of the measures, in co-operation with teachers and support specialists, and makes proposals to the parents and, where necessary, to the school principal for further activities. These could be termination of the measures, continuation of the measures in the same or an improved manner, replacement of a measure or the addition of another measure, or conducting further investigations.


Proxy indicator for the 80% benchmark used for the country’s data collection

The EASIE work uses an 80% benchmark of inclusive education. This is defined as:

An inclusive setting refers to education where the child/learner with SEN follows education in mainstream classes alongside their mainstream peers for most – 80% or more – of the school week.

Proxy indicator used

Actual data is available to verify the 80% benchmark.

Details on what the country proxy is

The regional counselling committee determines the number of children/learners who have an official decision of SEN. Additional pedagogical support is usually provided for four to eight hours per week individually or in groups.

Why this proxy was used

This data is available from the Estonian Education Information System (EHIS).

Difficulties in using the proxy

It is not possible to count exactly how many hours of additional pedagogical support have been implemented.

Specific country issues in applying the proxy indicator

No issues.


Detailed description of what ‘out of formal education’ means within the country

The 2011 International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) defines ‘formal education’ as follows:

[…] education that is institutionalised, intentional and planned through public organizations and recognised private bodies and, – in their totality – constitute the formal education system of a country. Formal education programmes are thus recognised as such by the relevant national education or equivalent authorities, e.g. any other institution in cooperation with the national or sub-national educational authorities. Formal education consists mostly of initial education […] Vocational education, special needs education and some parts of adult education are often recognised as being part of the formal education system. Qualifications from formal education are by definition recognised and, therefore, are within the scope of ISCED. Institutionalised education occurs when an organization provides structured educational arrangements, such as student-teacher relationships and/or interactions, that are specially designed for education and learning.

(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011, International Standard Classification of Education ISCED 2011, p. 11).

Do the country definitions of formal, non-formal and informal education differ from the ISCED definitions?

No, Estonia uses the same definitions as ISCED.

How specific cases – such as home-educated children/learners – are considered

All home-educated learners are on the register of their local school. School staff are obliged to prepare learning plans and evaluate the achievements of learning outcomes set in the curriculum. Home-educated children/learners are considered as being in formal education.

Children/learners who are considered out of formal education (meaning those not in formal education as defined by ISCED)

Out of education children/learners refers to mandatory school-age children/learners who live in Estonia, but have not enrolled in any school. The rural municipality or city government keeps records of those who are obliged to attend school. Once per academic year, the data from the Estonian Education Information System (EHIS) is compared with that of the Estonian population register on persons who are obliged to attend school and whose place of residence is in the administrative territory of the rural municipality or city. This is in order to register the obligation to attend school.

How the population of children/learners who are out of formal education is defined

Private schools that are registered as formal educational institutions provide private education. These institutions must follow education laws and acts approved by the government or minister.


Provision of data on private sector education

The data collection covers all sectors of education, including numbers for the child/learner population in the private sector.

Private sector education in the country

It includes non-government organisations and private companies.

Child/learner population counted for each relevant question

Data on private education has been included, according to the same principles as the other data.

Specific issues with providing data on private sector education and how these have been overcome in the data collection

No issues.


ISCED level age ranges

The following are the most common (pre)school entrance ages and (pre)school leaving ages for the different ISCED levels:

Age range in the country at ISCED level 02 (pre-primary): 3 to 6

Age range in the country at ISCED level 1: 7 to 12

Age range in the country at ISCED level 2: 13 to 15

Age range in the country at ISCED level 3: 16 to 18


2012/2013 and 2014/2015 data background information

This country updated its background information for the 2016/2017 dataset. A PDF of the background information for the 2012/2013 and 2014/2015 datasets is available.

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