St. Petersburg School 157


Students involved in the GTP, studying environmental science.

Author: Sergei Tolstikov is a graduate teacher of EFL from Moscow, Russia. He has taught English at several Moscow high schools and colleges and is currently doing postgraduate research work at the Russian Academy of Education, and is an editor of an educational journal. An active participant of the Global Thinking Project for more than 10 years, he has worked with educators from several nations.

The legislative basis of the Russian education system is organized on three levels: federal, ethnic-regional and institutional. Strategic decisions and state requirements are formulated at the federal and regional levels, but they find their specific implementation at the institutional (school) level.

The Russian education system organization is 4-5-2 (primary school, basic school, senior school). The basic school curriculum consists of three components: the federal, regional and the school. The federal component is invariable and determines the compulsory minimum of educational program content, the maximum amount of teaching periods for students, and the required student achievement. The regional and school components give schools and regions significant autonomy in curriculum content decisions, allowing schools to add extra study hours for in-depth study of different subjects of their choice, providing they meet the state requirement.  For science curriculum charts for Russia please see The Art of Teaching Science Companion site.

Junior Level Science

The Russian science curriculum begins with a two-year experience called The World Around in classes 1 through 4.  The focus of this experience is the exploration of the natural environment, including gardens, parks, the countryside, changing seasons, and caring for pets and indoor plants.

This is followed by Nature Study in class 5. Nature study involves the students in developing skills in observation, inquisitiveness, and the love of nature. The aims of the nature study include:

• Observing the weather, plants, behavior of wild creatures and consequences for human health and agriculture.

• Focus on natural surroundings in the Russian Federation, the human body, health and fitness and the concern for the health of the people.

• Development of a holistic picture of the natural world.

• Emphasize the processes of science including observing natural objects, comparing and contrasting, deduction, and generalizing.

The content of nature study also includes Earth and other bodies, air and the water cycle, conservation, rocks and soil, living organisms and their environment, effect of human activity on the living world, and ecology.


Senior Level Science

The Russian science curriculum from classes 6-11 is described as a spiral curriculum.  In the curriculum, each science is taught over a period of several years. For example, in class 6, students begin their study of biology, which continues for the next five years. Then in each of the next two years students study first physics and then chemistry and continue studying these subjects each year. 

The biology curriculum in class 6 is botany, and students meet for two periods of instruction per week.  Zoology is introduced in class 7 and continues into class 8.  Human anatomy and physiology are taught in class 9, and general biology is offered in classes 10 and 11. 

The content of physics in class 7 includes physics phenomena, the structure of matter, interaction of bodies, pressure, work, power and energy.  In class 8 students study thermal, electrical, electro-magnetic and light phenomena. In class 9 students study kinematics, conservation laws, and waves. In class 10 they study molecular physics, and electrodynamics, followed in class 11 with a continuation of electrodynamics, as well as electromagnetic waves, and quantum physics. As a part of the physics curriculum, in the last year of school, students also take a course in astronomy, which introduces a contemporary view of the universe, focusing on the practical use of astronomy.

The chemistry curriculum begins in class 8. The chemistry curriculum is focused on exploring two basic systems of knowledge, namely, substances and processes.  The content in classes 8 and 9 is the study of inorganic chemistry, while in classes 10 and 11 the focus is on organic chemistry.


 There are also an increasing number of specialized secondary schools, lyceums and gymnasiums in Russia, where a variety of elective subjects are taught and students can acquire a thorough knowledge in some field of study. Sometimes specialized classes with an intensive study of certain subjects, such as physics and mathematics, biology and chemistry are organized inside the general secondary school.