Education in Spain

Education in Spain

Infobox Education
country name = Spain

agency = Ministry of Education
leader titles = Minister
leader names = Mercedes Cabrera
budget =
budget year =
discretionary =
mandatory =
primary languages = Spanish and other co-official languages in several regions, including Catalan, Euskera and Galician
system type = Federal
established events =
established dates =
literacy year = 2003
literacy rank =
literacy total = 98.1
literacy men = 98.8
literacy women = 97.4
enroll total = 5,917,074
enroll primary = 2,479,631
enroll secondary = 1,871,430
enroll post-secondary = 1,566,013
attain secondary = 45.4%
attain post-secondary = 38.1%
footnotes =
This article describes the framework of Education in Spain. The current education system is called LOGSE ("Ley de Ordenación General del Sistema Educativo"). State Education in Spain is free and compulsory from 6 to 16 years of age.


*From 3 to 5 years of age - "Educación Infantil" (Pre-school)
*From 6 to 11 years of age - "Educación Primaria" (Primary School) Years, 1º, 2º, 3º, 4º, 5º and 6º
*From 12 to 16 years of age - "Educación Secundaria Obligatoria" (Compulsory Secondary Schooling) Years, 1º, 2º, 3º, 4º
*From 17 to 18 years of age - "Bachillerato" (Post-Compulsory Schooling), years 1º, 2º

Children from 3 to 5 years old in Spain have the option of attending the "infantil" (popularly known as preescolar) or Pre-school stage, which is non-compulsory and free for all students. It is regarded as an integral part of the education system with infants' classes at almost every primary school. There are some separate "Colegios Infantiles", or nursery schools.

Spanish students aged 6 to 16 undergo primary ("Colegio") and secondary school ("Instituto") education, which are compulsory and free of charge. Successful students are awarded a Secondary Education Certificate, which is necessary for entering further (optional) education as is "Bachillerato" for their University or "Formacion Professional" (Vocational Studies).Once students have finished their "Bachillerato", they can take their University Entrance Exam ("Pruebas de Acceso a la Universidad", popularly called Selectividad) which differs greatly from region to region.

The secondary stage of education is normally referred to by their initials, eg. "ESO" ("Educación Secundaria Obligatoria") for secondary education.

= Educación Infantil (Nursery schooling)=

*Structure: 2 education cycles of three academic years each one, called:
**"Jardín de Infancia" (0-3 years of age)
**"Preescolar" (3-6 years of age)

=Educación primaria (Primary schooling)=

*Structure: Three cycles of two years each one:
**First Cycle (6-7 years of age)
**Second Cycle (8-9 years of age)
**Third Cycle (10-11 years of age)

Educación Secundaria (Secondary education)

Educación Secundaria Obligatoria ("ESO") or Compulsory Secondary Education

*Structure: two cycles of two academic years each (total 4 years):
**1st Cycle (12-14 years of age)
**2nd Cycle (14-16 years of age)On finishing "ESO" the student has a number of options:
#To do "Ciclos Formativos de Grado Medio" (Vocational training) (1º technical college)
#Access to "Bachillerato".
#Start work (because "ESO" is compulsory up to the age of 16, and you have to be at least 16 to get a job)
#"Garantía Social" (learning a profession in a year)


This term encompasses grades 11 and 12, and is the first non-compulsory educational option (among few) for many, particularly those wishing to go on to university. A substantial change in pressure and workload can be found, even within the same institution, as this option is (arguably) the hardest (but shorter). Upon completion, it entitles the student to either sit the university-entrance exam ("selectividad"), in order to go on to undergraduate studies, or to attend some kind of higher vocational training.

There are currently five branches to choose from (it is possible, though, to take up a double option), a fact that directly influences almost half of the curriculum (the other half being made up of compulsory subjects, the so-called "core" curriculum). The common curriculum is as follows (for both years unless otherwise stated): Language and Literature (of both Spanish and another subject with a usually comparable workload only in case another language of Spain is co-official), a first foreign language (both years, usually English, but German and French are also common, and depending on the institution, Italian), Philosophy (1st year), Physical Education (1st year), Spanish History (2nd year), History of Philosophy (2nd year), and an optional one, which depends on both the school's offer and the student's interests.

Each branch is made up of three core subjects, and usually a further one can be chosen.
#Arts: History of Art, Volume (sculpture), Colours (painting)
#Nature and Health Sciences: Biology, Chemistry, Physics/Earth Sciences/Mathematics
#Sciences & Engineering: Physics, Maths, Chemistry/Technical Drawing
#Social Sciences: Applied Maths, Economics, Geography, Sociology/Psychology
#Humanities: Latin, Greek, History of Art/Psychology

At undergraduate level, every degree has its own branch requirement (entrance is usually possible from two different branches or more, even though some degrees have no such specification). Arts has a limited choice of related degrees at University, mainly History of Art. Humanities have a wider choice, including Physiolology, Oriental Studies, Philosophy. Social studies have preference for entering degrees in Law, Economics, Business, Geography. Sciences & Engineering, as its name states, has preference in all engineering careers, and also in Maths, Chemistry and Physics. The main requirements for nature and health sciences are; Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Biology, Physiotherapy, Chemistry, Dentistry, Geology, Environmental Sciences.Despite this, some courses accept students from any branch, such as Philology, History, Social Work, Educational Sciences or Tourism are a preference to some branches over others when applying for entrance.

Higher Education

Ciclo Formativo de Grado Superior (2º technical college)

*Access: with the "Bachillerato" degree or through a "Ciclo Formativo de Grado Medio" being 18 before 31st of December and passing an entrance exam.
*Structure: it covers a set of formation cycles that are organized in professional modules.
*On finishing:
**Access to University studies related to the "Ciclo Formativo" studies. For example, if you get the "Grado Superior" degree in Computer Science, you can do computer science engineering. It has no access exam but the marks are considered for the university admission.


University courses are structured in cycles, and have the "credit" as a measure for the lessons.
*Structure and access:
**First cycle courses: Access with pre-enrollment.These are 3-year terminal studies, and when finished, a student can obtain a certificate as well as a teaching or engineering diploma. This also allows students to study in the second cycle.
**Studies of 1st and 2nd cycle (4 or 5 years): Access with the university preinscription. Passing it gives the right to obtaining an academic degree ("Licenciatura"), architecture or engineering qualification.

Passing the first cycle, for anyone in these studies, does not qualify for obtaining an official title, but it can be of worth for incorporating into other studies of the second cycle.
**Studies of second cycle: Access through the first university cycle, or with the possession of a graduate, architect, engineer (diploma level) or teacher, whenever these studies conform to the norm of access for each second cycles. Passing it gives the student the right to obtain a university degree, architecture degree or engineering degree.
**Studies of 3rd cycle: they are the called Ph.D. programs (doctorate). The access is regulated by the university itself, through the Doctorate Commission. It is necessary to have the degree course, architecture or engineering.
*Own degrees: are nonregulated studies leading to an unofficial degree, recognized only by the granting university.These courses have the same structure as the regulated studies: therefore, there are first cycle degrees, first and second cycle degrees, and second cycle degrees.

The universities regulate access to their own degrees and they fix the academic fees. They can also offer unofficial postgraduate degrees.

Spain has internationally recognized universities, the most notable being the University of Barcelona, the Complutense University, the University of Navarra, the Technical University of Madrid, the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Pompeu Fabra University, and the Carlos III University. Other universities of historical relevance and reputation are the University of Salamanca and the University of Alcalá.


All non-university state education is free in Spain, but parents have to buy all of their children's books and materials. There also are private schools for all the range of compulsory education, and also Bachillerato. At them, parents must pay a monthly/termly/yearly fee. Most of these schools are run by religious orders, and include single-sex schools.

Schools supply a list of what is required at the start of each school year and which will include art and craft materials as well as text and exercise books. Expect to spend a minimum of around ninety pounds (GBP) per child, fact|date=March 2008 but in some regions, the autonomous government is giving tokens to exchange them in book shops for free, this is being adapted in 2006 in regions, such as Andalucia, where kids from 3 to 10 will get the books for free, on the following years it is expected for all compulsory years. School uniform is not normally worn in state schools but is usually worn in private schools.


The Certificate of Secondary Education is awarded at the end of compulsory secondary education after passing every subject but 2, and a student who achieves appropriate grades graduates from Compulsory Secondary Education ("ESO") and can apply for one of the different types of (Spanish) "Bachillerato".

The modalities of "Bachillerato" depend on each region, but are commonly, Arts & Letters ("Bachillerato de Humanidades"), Natural and Health Sciences ("Bachillerato de Ciencias de la Naturaleza y la Salud"), Technology ("Bachillerato Tecnológico"), Social Sciences ("Bachillerato de Ciencias Sociales") and Arts ("Bachillerato de Arte"), having 3 different thematic subjects each, and several common subjects such as "Spanish", "Foreign Language", "Philosophy", "History", etc.

Middle or Superior Vocational training is also a common possibility after ESO or after Bachillerato, they are called "Ciclos Formativos de Grado Medio" for middle or "Ciclos Formativos de grado Superior" for Superior getting a "Technician Degree", or it can be taken after Bachillerato, getting a "Superior Technician" diploma and direct entrance to several related University degrees, there are more than 200 different specialities.

Students with appropriate qualifications and wishing to enroll in University in Spain must usually take an entrance exam called "Selectividad", that consists in 6 tests, 3 for each subject and a test for each "History" or "Philosophy", "Foreign Language" (commonly English) and Spanish grammar and literature (Autonomous communities that have a co-official language, have also another test about co-official language grammar and literature), after passing their Bachillerato. The Spanish School Leaving Certificate is equivalent to a number of GCSEs. The Bachillerato is equivalent to A levels. Therefore, Spanish students obtaining the appropriate grades required for entrance into universities in Europe, including England, are not precluded.

chool hours

Primary school hours at present fact|date=March 2008 are typically from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., or full time classes from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., depending on each school, except during June and September when they work mornings only, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. There is a move towards a single session day in primary schools which would bring them in line with secondary schools. To achieve this, each school submits to the education authority a programme of extra curricular activities to be offered in the afternoons, and if approved, the proposal to move to a single session day is put to a vote by the parents for their approval. fact|date=March 2008

Some schools have a dining room and provide lunches, but many do not. fact|date=March 2008 Many schools offer the possibility for working parents to take their children as early as 7:00 a.m., and which in some cases includes breakfast as well as providing sport or leisure activities.

Secondary schools (("Instituto de Enseñanza Secundaria" or commonly "Instituto", often abbreviated to "I.E.S.") work from 8:30 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. throughout the school year.

In both cases, there is a break that normally lasts half an hour, starting at about 11:00 a.m. At some secondary schools there are 2 breaks of 15 minutes.

chool terms

Broadly similar to the English three term system, but with slightly shorter holidays at Christmas (December 23-January 7) and Easter (one week), and longer in the summer. In 2005, the summer holiday ran from June 22 until September 1/September 15, depending on the regions. The English half-term holiday does not exist, but there are frequent odd days and long weekends relating mainly to religious holidays and regional and national holidays.

Religious education

A non-evaluable religion class is taken in all schools in accordance with the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, and Islam, Judaism or Protestantism in the schools where there are important minorities. fact|date=March 2008 Parents are asked when they enroll their children whether or not they wish them to take religious education, taking Civism lessons or Religious Culture, where the history of the religions is studied.

Availability of schools

All but the very smallest villages have their own primary school, and there is widespread coverage of school transport. Small village schools are grouped together under the auspices of their local teacher's centre for the provision of specialist teachers for subjects such as music, English, etc. Most larger villages and towns have a secondary school.

Arrangements for foreign pupils

Many schools have a specialist teacher to help immigrant children of all nationalities learn Spanish.

It is quite common for secondary pupils to be placed in the class a year below their actual age in order for them to learn the language and cope with normal school work. A pupil who does badly in end-of-year exams, especially if the staff feel that they have made insufficient effort, can be required to repeat the year, but this can only happen once.

New Projects

At this very moment the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers' Party ("Partido Socialista Obrero Español" "PSOE") is debating in the parliament a new project for Education.

Currently, the Spanish education system is undergoing substantial change resulting from the introduction of the Organic Law on the quality of Education ("Ley Orgánica de Calidad de la Educación") or L.O.C.E.


External links

* [ Spanish Ministry of Education] In Spanish
* [ The Spanish university system]
* [ Courses and universities in Spain]

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