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Spain:Early Childhood Education and Care

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Spain:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

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Spain:Funding in Education

Spain:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Spain:Higher Education Funding

Spain:Adult Education and Training Funding

Spain:Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Organisation of Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Assessment in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Primary Education

Spain:Organisation of Primary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Spain:Assessment in Primary Education

Spain:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

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Spain:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

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Spain:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Vocational Lower Secondary Education: Basic Vocational Training cycles

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Spain:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

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Spain:Types of Higher Education Institutions

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Spain:Adult Education and Training

Spain:Distribution of Responsibilities

Spain:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Spain:Main Providers

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Spain:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Spain:Teachers and Education Staff

Spain:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Spain:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Management and Other Education Staff

Spain:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Spain:Management Staff for Higher Education

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Quality Assurance

Spain:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Spain:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Educational Support and Guidance

Spain:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Spain:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Spain:Mobility and Internationalisation

Spain:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Mobility in Higher Education

Spain:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Spain:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Spain:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:National Reforms in School Education

Spain:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Spain:National Reforms in Higher Education

Spain:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Spain:European Perspective

Spain:Legislation

Spain:Institutions

Spain:Bibliography

Spain:Glossary

The 2006 Education Act and the 2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, modifying it, are the basic rules currently governing the educational provision of the Spanish education system.

The 2006 Act on Education establishes Pre-Primary Education, an educational stage in its own right which is non-compulsory, as the first stage of the education system. It is organised into two cycles of three years each: the first one, up to 3 years of age, and the second one, from 3 to 6 years of age. The Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, that began to be implemented the 2014/15 academic year, did not introduce any change in this educational stage.

The Autonomous Communities regulate the objectives, contents, evaluation, organisation, as well as the requirements schools have to meet in the first cycle of the stage. In the second cycle, however, all these aspects are regulated by the State and the Autonomous Communities complete them for their respective regions.

Aim and general objectives

The aim of Pre-Primary Education is to contribute to the physical, emotional, social and intellectual development of children in close cooperation with families. The two cycles of the stage should progressively pay attention to emotional development, body movement and control, communication and verbal expression, basic guidelines of coexistence and social relations, as well as discovery of the physical and social characteristics of the environment. The development of a positive and balanced image of themselves and the acquisition of personal autonomy should also be encouraged.

In accordance with the Act on Education and the Royal Decree establishing the core curricula for the second cycle of Pre-Primary Education, the general objectives of this stage are the following:

  • Know their own and others’ bodies, its capacities, and learn to respect differences.
  • Observe and explore their family, natural and social environment.
  • Acquire progressive autonomy in their regular activities.
  • Develop their emotional abilities.
  • Socialise with others and progressively acquire the basic guidelines of coexistence and social relations, as well as practise the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
  • Develop communicative skills in different languages and types of expression.
  • Begin developing logical-mathematical abilities, reading and writing, as well as movement, gesture and rhythm.

The Autonomous Communities, in the exercise of their educational powers, complete the general objectives of the stage.

Schools providing pre-primary education

Pre-Primary Education is offered in public or private schools, which may provide the first cycle of the stage, the second or both. Public schools offering Pre-Primary Education are called Pre-Primary schools and those also providing primary education are known as Pre-Primary and Primary schools.

Almost every institution which provides pre-primary education falls within the competence of the education authorities. In some Autonomous Communities, there are schools for children aged 0 to 3 years which depend upon the social area, such as areas that are related to family or welfare.

In 2013/14, a total of 9 296 schools offered exclusively the first cycle of pre-primary education. Of these schools, 4 310 were public, 1 340 were publicly-funded private schools and 3 646 were private. In addition, a total of 14 274 schools provided the second cycle of the stage: 10 625 were public, 3 073 were publicly-funded private and 576 were private. The number of schools varies significantly from one Autonomous Community to another.

Educational policy

The priorities of Spain’s educational policy regarding Pre-Primary Education focus on the improvement of quality and access to education during the first years of life.

The Education Act already envisaged a free second cycle of Pre-Primary Education, and urged the Education Authorities to progressively provide enough school places for the first cycle through agreements with the local corporations, other authorities or non-profit private institutions. The main lines of action were:

  • Continue increasing the number of public school places for children under 3 years of age.
  • Offer enough school places in public schools and establish a system of subsidy arrangements in order to ensure a free second cycle.
  • Adapt the schools offering this stage to the minimum requirements established by the Education Authorities, such as facilities or pupil/teacher ratio.

For detailed information on the main ongoing reforms and developments from 2013 to the present day, see article National reforms in early childhood education and care.