Education in Spain

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The framework of Education in Spain is described in this article. State Education in Spain is free and compulsory from 6 to 16 years.

◦ 1 Levels

◦ 2 Costs

◦ 3 Qualifications

◦ 4 School hours

◦ 5 School terms

◦ 6 Religious Education

◦ 7 Availability of schools

◦ 8 Arrangements for foreign pupils

◦ 9 New Projects

◦ 10 External links


◦ From 3 to 6 years - Educación Infantil (Preparatory School)

◦ From 6 to 12 years _ Educación Primaria

◦ From 12 to 16 years - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

◦ From 16 to 18 years - Bachillerato (Post-Compulsory School)

Children from 3 to 6 years old in Spain have the option of attending the infantil 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 infantil classes in 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 Profesional (Vocational Studies). Once students have finished their Bachillerato, they can take their University Entrance Exam which differs greatly from region to region.

The stages of education are often referred to by their initials, eg. ESO or Education Secundaria Obligatorio for secondary education.


State education from three to sixteen years is free in Spain, but parents have to buy all of their children's books and materials. Schools supply a list of what is required at the start of each school year which will include art and craft materials as well as text and exercise books. Expect to spend a minimum of around fifty pounds (GBP) per child. School uniform is not normally worn in state schools but is usually worn in private schools.


A Certificate of Secondary Education is awarded at the end of compulsory secondary education and a student who achieves appropriate grades graduates from compulsory secondary education ESO and can apply for one of the different types (academic or technical) of (Spanish) Bachillerato. Vocational training is also a possibility after ESO. The new qualifications replace the COU and the BUP. Students with appropriate qualifications and wishing to progress to University in Spain, must usually take an entrance exam. The School Leaving Certificate is not inferior to a number of GCSEs. The Bachillerato is not inferior to A levels. Therefore, students obtaining the appropriate grades required for entrance into universities in Europe, including England, are not precluded because they have Spanish qualifications.

School hours

Primary school hours at present are 9.00 until 12:30 and 3.30 until 5:00, except during June and September when they work mornings only, 9:00 until 1:00. 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 has to submit a programme of extra curricular activities to be offered in the afternoons to the education authority, and if this is approved the proposal to move to a single session day is put to a vote by the parents for their approval. Some schools have a dining room and provide lunches, but many do not. Secondary schools work 9:00 until 2:00 all the school year.

School terms

Broadly similar to the English three term system, but with slightly shorter holidays at Christmas and Easter, and longer in the summer, this year 2005 the summer holiday runs from June 21st until September 1st. 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

Takes place in all schools in accordance with the doctrine of the Roman Catholic church. Parents are asked when they enrol their children whether or not they wish them to take religious education.

Availability of schools

All but the very smallest villages have their own primary school, and there is widespread coverage by 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 will have a secondary school.

Arrangements for foreign pupils

Many schools have a specialist teacher to help immigrant children of all nationalities learn Spanish. Generally speaking the younger the child, the more quickly they learn the language and integrate.

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 (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)