The Ministry of Education and Research (HTM) is planning to open a fourth state high school in Lasnamäe, while the city's education department is less sure.
Three state high schools are set to open their doors in Tallinn this fall. The Mustamäe, Pelgulinna and Tõnismäe state high schools will all open 10th grades only, with the two former set to open ten sets of classes for 360 total students. The Tõnismäe State High School will have 160 students.
In all, 900 students will attend state high schools in Tallinn. Once all three schools hit peak performance, Tallinn will have gotten 2,600 new high school student places.
But Estonia wants to open a fourth high school in Tallinn's Lasnamäe borough. ERR was told from the ministry in the summer of 2021 that preparations are underway for the Mustakivi State High School project.
Things have not come far since then, with the ministry still in talks with the city.
HTM Deputy Secretary General Liina Põld said that the school might open for the 2027/2028 academic year, while this is not certain yet.
Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet said back in 2021 that while the idea is welcome as such, the capital would block it if it meant having to close municipal schools.
The city and the education ministry still haven't agreed on anything concrete. Kaarel Rundu, head of the city's education department said that there is no agreement in place for a fourth state high school and that negotiations have not made headway. "Therefore, we can speculate neither over whether a new state high school will be opened in Lasnamäe or its possible location," he added.
No high schools to be closed in Tallinn as city short on student places
Even though the 2,600 student places to be added by state high schools seems like a lot and begs the question of whether municipal schools might lose out, in truth, the capital will need even more room for high school students in the future.
Undersecretary Põld said that this is the reason why Tallinn has not been forced to close municipal schools when a new state high school is opened, which has been standard practice in other local governments. "Tallinn will need more high school student places, which is why the ministry has not required the city to close a single high school in September 2023," she said.
Municipal high schools in Tallinn have 9,527 students of whom 3,500 attend 10th grade. This number is set to grow by more than 40 percent in the coming years.
"The number of students has been growing in recent years and is set to peak in 2025-2030 when Tallinn will need an additional roughly 4,000 high school places. The situation should stabilize after that, in 2030-2040," Rundu said.
He added that Tallinn is rather looking to create more high school places in the form of annexes of the Jakob Westholm High School, Tallinn Secondary Science School and the Kristiine High School, as well as the Nõmme High School the basic school part of which will be turned into the separate Hiiu School by 2023.
Tallinn's education chief also said that competition is welcome and serves as inspiration for municipal schools, and that the capital's education network must offer diverse possibilities.
Editor: Marcus Turovski