Public Education in Slovenia: What is School in Nature?

By , 30 May 2019, 18:18 PM Lifestyle
School in nature, learning to swim in Debeli rtič, cca 1984 School in nature, learning to swim in Debeli rtič, cca 1984 Neža Loštrek, personal archive

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May 30, 2019

Have your kids entered the public school system in Slovenian and just found “school in nature” (šola v naravi) on the school’s calendar, but have no idea what this is?

According to the official definition of the Ministry of Education, “school in nature is an organised form of educational work that takes place outside the school premises for three or more days in a row. (…) School in nature is organised by a school, which defines the content, execution and financing of a particular school in nature in its annual plan.”

Due to the autonomy of the schools in the public education system, the number of such trips for each generation of students varies from school to school.

It is mandatory for schools to organise at least one school in nature for each generation of elementary school children, although in most cases two week-long trips away from home are expected by most of the kids: a summer swimming trip at the end of grade four, and a winter skiing trip in grade six or seven.

It is perhaps important to mention that the first mandatory 20-hour swimming course takes place in either second or third grade. Students are expected to know how to swim by the time they finish elementary school, just like knowing how to ride a bicycle or to read and write.

This is also the reason why the summer school is part of the mandatory programme, and also the one school offers subsidies for. School in nature costs between EUR 120 and 140, and up to about 180 for winter school, but the expenses for students from financially weaker families are usually covered from the so-called School Fund. As a parent you can contribute to the school fund yourself. Usually, schools send monthly School Fund invoices to parents of their students and they can decide whether they will or can contribute or not.

School in nature usually takes place in Centres for School and Outdoor Education (CŠOD), which are best equipped for these type of activities, can house a large number of students and aren’t profit oriented, hence relatively cheap.

School in nature is certainly a very exciting event and a great bonding opportunity for the kids of each generation. Besides, school in nature continues to present a travel opportunity for many who would otherwise not be able to afford one in a private family setting.

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