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Spain:Organisation of Early Childhood Education and Care

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Overview Spain

Contents

Spain:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Spain:Historical Development

Spain:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Spain:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Spain:Political and Economic Situation

Spain:Organisation and Governance

Spain:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Spain:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Spain:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Spain:Organisation of Private Education

Spain:National Qualifications Framework

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

Spain:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Spain:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

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

Spain:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Spain:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Vocational Lower Secondary Education: Basic Vocational Training cycles

Spain:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Spain:Higher Education

Spain:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Spain:First Cycle Programmes

Spain:Bachelor

Spain:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Spain:Second Cycle Programmes

Spain:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Spain:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Spain:Adult Education and Training

Spain:Distribution of Responsibilities

Spain:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Spain:Main Providers

Spain:Main Types of Provision

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

Geographical accessibility

In order to guarantee the principle of equality as regards the right to Education recognised by the 1978 Spanish Constitution, the 2006 Act on Education stipulates the necessity for developing preventive and compensatory actions in underprivileged regions.

The Education Authorities are responsible for implementing these actions, avoiding inequalities on geographical, social and economic or other grounds and ensuring the best conditions for Pre-Primary schooling. These actions are aimed at specific educational institutions or geographical areas and, more particularly, rural schools.

The measures adopted are the following:

The factors that have to be considered when planning educational provision in a specific geographical area are:

  • In urban areas: the birth rate, the increase in the number of foreign pupils and the increasing population in emerging areas.
  • In rural areas: difficulty in accessing certain geographical areas, birth and death rates, the aging of the population and the number of seasonal workers. 

Admission requirements and choice of ECEC institution

The Spanish education system began to implement the reforms established by the new 2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, which modifies the 2006 Education Act, the 2014/15 academic year. However, admission requirements and choice of school are not affected by the educational reform.

The Act on Education establishes that the Education Authorities have to regulate pupils’ admission to public schools, so that the right to education, equal access and freedom of choice of school are guaranteed. The objective is to achieve a fair distribution of pupils, with no discrimination on racial, gender, religious or opinion grounds or due to conditions of birth any other personal or social condition or circumstance.

Parents or guardians may apply to any school, public or private, for a place for their children. The only admission requirement is the year of birth, although private schools have autonomy to establish their own admission procedures.

If there are not enough places in publicly-funded schools providing the first cycle of pre-primary education, the education authorities set a scale on the basis of the priority criteria established, for the whole State, by the Education Act: prior enrolment of other siblings in the school or parents or legal guardians working in the school, proximity of parents’ home or workplace, annual family income and legal status of large family, and either the pupil or any of the parents or siblings having any type of disability. In some Autonomous Communities, there are some other criteria, such as parents’ labour situation or social and family circumstances. The local authorities may also set additional criteria for their own schools.

As for the second cycle, in the case of public schools and publicly-funded private schools, if there are not enough places, pupil admission is subject to the priority admission criteria established by the Act on Education previously mentioned. The Autonomous Communities and schools themselves may also set some additional criteria.

In public schools, pupil admission is the responsibility of the School Council; in publicly-funded private schools, the owner of the school is also responsible. In addition, the Education Authorities may set up schooling or assessment bodies or commissions in order to decide on the allocation of places. They also establish the corresponding ways for families to appeal against the decisions taken in such processes.

Pupils with special educational needs attend mainstream schools. They have to meet the general admission requirements as well as the specific conditions the Autonomous Communities may impose. Schooling in specific special education institutions takes places if any of the following situations arise: special educational needs due to a disability that cannot be met in a mainstream school, highly significant adaptation needs, impossibility of integrating into a mainstream school and schooling report from the specialised guidance services authorising schooling. For detailed information on the admission of these pupils, see article Separate special education needs provision in early childhood and school education.

Age levels and grouping of children

The first cycle of Pre-Primary Education caters for children from birth to age 3. On a general basis, the minimum age for access is 3-4 months of age, depending on the Autonomous Community in question. The second cycle caters for children from 3 to 6 years of age. Class groups are normally created according to the year of birth in both cycles.

Each group has a class teacher assigned, who, as far as possible, keeps the same group of pupils throughout the whole cycle.

Professionals who hold a School Teacher degree, and who are specialised in pre-primary education, or the equivalent Bachelor degree, are responsible for drawing up and monitoring the pedagogical plan. In the first cycle of the stage, professionals holding the Pre-Primary Education Advanced Technician certificate may teach or support school teachers, as determined by the education authorities. In the second cycle, classes are taught by school teachers who can be also supported by school teachers in other specialities if necessary. For detailed information on the qualifications of professionals of Pre-Primary Education, see article Initial education for teachers working in early childhood and school education.

In the first cycle, the teacher/pupil ratio per unit is regulated by each Autonomous Community. For children under 1 year of age, most of the Autonomous Communities establish a maximum of 8 children per unit; for children between 1 and 2 years of age, the number of pupils ranges between 12 and 14; and for children between 2 and 3 years of age, ratios vary between 16 and 20 children per unit. In the second cycle, however, the teacher/pupil ratio per unit is regulated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport as well as the Education Authorities for their respective regions. In any case, a maximum of 25 pupils per unit is established.

Organisation of time

The Education Authorities are responsible for annually establishing the school year within their jurisdiction, taking into account certain minimum criteria which are set for the whole State. Thus, they fix the number of school days of public schools and publicly-funded private schools, specifying the time devoted to organisation tasks and the care of children.

The beginning and end of the school year tend to be regulated separately for each cycle. In general, the second cycle is regulated like the rest of non-university educational stages. In any case, the school year starts at the beginning of September and school holidays are allocated as follows: approximately 12 weeks correspond to summer holidays; around 15 days for Christmas; between 8 and 11 days at the end of March or beginning of April (Holy Week); and around 7 bank holidays established by the central Government or regional or local authorities. During summer holidays, schools can remain open until the end of July. This is also the case with the days that are not a bank holiday during Christmas and Easter.

In the case of private schools, particularly those providing the first cycle of the stage, the number of school days may vary depending on the needs of families, the possibilities for organisation and more flexible working time arrangements of the educational staff, the stable functioning of groups and compliance with the ratio established in the regulations. In this sense, the duration of the school year ranges between ten and eleven months in most Autonomous Communities.

Organisation of the day and week

In general, a weekly timetable of 25 hours operates in pre-primary education. However, the education authorities are responsible for establishing the school day, which may vary depending on the ownership of the school. Thus, the timetable of public schools providing the whole stage is usually 35 hours per week, which translates into 7 hours per day, Monday to Friday. This includes lunch breaks, rest or nap periods and recreation. Private schools have the autonomy to adapt their timetable to family demands. Nevertheless, in accordance with the regulations on the requirements for schools offering the first cycle, children are not allowed to remain on the school premises for more than eight hours in some Autonomous Communities.

In many pre-primary schools extended timetable and breakfast and lunch services are provided, so schools can be opened from 7:30 in the morning. Parents’ associations, schools themselves or external institutions can organise extracurricular activities, which are non-compulsory for pupils.

In schools exclusively providing Pre-Primary Education, either the first or both cycles, the arrival and ending time may be delayed half an hour to facilitate the communication with the families and children’s adaptation to the school day.

In addition, pupils normally go through a period of adaptation during the month of September, especially those who are attending school for the first time. The time children remain on the school premises is gradually increased until they have the number of schools hours generally established.

Due to the global nature of the methodology used at this educational stage, no specific number of hours has been set for the different curricular areas. The organisation of time combines stability with flexibility and is adapted to pupils’ needs and rhythm of activity, play and rest.