Spain:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

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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

Structure of the education system

The education system offers the following studies: pre-primary education, primary education, compulsory secondary education (ESO), Bachillerato, vocational training, adult education and university education.

Also Language, Artistic and Sports Education are provided, which are considered Specialised Education.

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 education system and defining its structure:

  • Education Act (2006)
Structure of the Spanish education system according to the 2006 Education Act

Source: Eurydice Spain-REDIE from Euraxess Spain.

The education system, shaped by the Education Act since 2006, has been progressively modified in accordance with the calendar for the implementation of the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education planned. In 2017, when the implementation of the new Act will be completed, the structure of the Spanish education system will be the following:

  • Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education (2013)
Sistema-eductivo-lomce 2013.jpg

Source: Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

Non-university education

Pre-primary education is not compulsory. It is organised in two cycles: the first one lasts until 3 years old, and the second one from 3 to 6. The second cycle is cost-free.

Primary education and compulsory secondary education cover ten years of schooling, compulsory and cost-free for all the students.

Primary education is the first compulsory level of the education system. It covers six academic years, between 6 and 12 years old. The Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education has not changed the structure of this stage, although its educational provision has been modified and the individualised evaluation at the end has been introduced.

Secondary Education covers compulsory secondary education, the second and last compulsory stage for students aged 12-16, Bachillerato, basic vocational training and intermediate vocational training, which are non-compulsory levels.

Compulsory secondary education lasts four academic years. So far, it was not organised into cycles; the only difference being the guiding nature of the 4th year. From the 2015/16 school year, the first cycle is composed of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd years, and the 1st and 3rd years will begin to be implemented. In the 2016/17 academic year, the 2nd year and the 2nd cycle of the stage, consisting of a single year, the 4th, of a preparatory nature for post-compulsory education, will also be implemented. In this last cycle, students will have to choose for the first time between two pathways which, however, lead to the award of the same certificate.

In the 2016/17 school year, the first external assessment at the end of compulsory secondary education will be carried out. All students having successfully completed all the subjects or having failed a maximum of two will be evaluated. Only this school year, the test will not be considered for the award of the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate. From the following school year, however, the examination will have academic validity and the average of the grades obtained in compulsory secondary education and the grade achieved in the final evaluation will be weighted for the award of the certificate. This certificate provides access to Bachillerato, intermediate vocational training and to the world of work.

The students who do not pass these studies receive an Official Certificate of Compulsory Education including the years studied and the qualifications achieved.

Bachillerato lasts two academic years, from 16 to 18 years old. The Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education does not change the structure of this stage, although its educational provision is modified. According to schedule, the 1st year of Bachillerato was implemented in the 2015/16 academic year. In the 2016/17 school year, when the 2nd year will be implemented, the first external assessment at the end of Bachillerato, where all students having successfully completed all the subjects of any of the branches will be evaluated, will also be conducted. Only this school year, the test will not be considered for the award of the Bachillerato Certificate, although it will be taken into account for university admission. From the following school year, however, the examination will have academic validity and the grades obtained in the subjects studied and the grade achieved in the final evaluation will be weighted for the award of the certificate. This certificate provides access to the different higher education studies.

The implementation of the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education involved the establishment of the new training cycles of basic vocational training, to which students aged 15-17 who have successfully completed the first cycle of compulsory secondary education or, exceptionally, taken the 2nd year of the stage may have access. On completion of the new training cycles, students obtain a Level 1 qualification and the Basic Vocational Training Certificate, which provides access to intermediate vocational training and/or the external evaluation carried out at the end of compulsory secondary education to obtain the corresponding certificate, among other options.

During the 2015/16 and 2016/17 academic years, students who have been awarded the Basic Vocational Training Certificate may also obtain the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate, provided that the teaching team considers that they have achieved the objectives of compulsory secondary education and acquired the relevant skills in the final evaluation of the training cycle. The final mark for compulsory secondary education will be the average of the grades obtained in the vocational modules associated to common areas. It is a temporary measure until the external evaluation at the end of compulsory secondary education is implemented.

Initial vocational training covers a set of training cycles constituting intermediate and advanced vocational training. According to the schedule for implementation of the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, the changes introduced by the new Act in intermediate vocational training will begin to be implemented this academic year 2015/16.

To access intermediate vocational training it is necessary to hold the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate. Students holding the new Basic Vocational Training Certificate can do so from the 2016/17 academic year. The students having passed these studies receive the qualification of Technician, which gives them access to Bachillerato.

To study advanced vocational training it is necessary to hold the Bachillerato certificate. It can also be necessary to have studied some subjects related to the targeted vocational studies. The students who pass these studies obtain the qualification of Advanced Technician, giving access to the university studies related to the vocational training studies previously taken.

The Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education will make it possible for students holding vocational training certificates to obtain the Bachillerato Certificate by passing the final evaluation carried out at the end of the stage. The Certificate awarded will reflect the fact that it was obtained this way.

In accordance with the new Act, vocational training students who do not successfully complete their studies will receive an academic certificate for the vocational modules passed, which will have academic validity and provide partial accreditation of the professional competences acquired in relation to the National System of Qualifications and Vocational Training.

It is possible to access any vocational training cycle without fulfilling the mentioned academic requirements, by passing a specific test. In the case of students of intermediate vocational training trying to have access to advanced vocational training, this test is replaced by a procedure for admission if the demand for places is higher than supply.

In addition, dual vocational training of the education system has already been developed in basic, intermediate and advanced vocational training. It comprises a series of training actions and initiatives whose aim is that people become professionally qualified by harmonising teaching and learning processes between training institutions and workplaces. Placements with companies are supervised by the education authorities.

University education

In order to gain access to university education, apart from holding the Bachillerato Certificate, students have to pass an entrance examination, which will continue to be held as before until the 2017/18 academic year.

Adapted to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), University Education is divided into three cycles:

  • Bachelor, whose aim is to provide the students with a general training, in one or several disciplines, directed to prepare them for carrying out professional activities. They lead to the obtaining of the Bachelor certificate and they consist of 240 ECTS at least. The planned duration is 4 years
  • Master, aiming to the acquisition of an advanced training, guided to academic or professional specialisation, or to the introduction in tasks related to research. They lead to the obtaining of University Master and they have between 60 and 120 credits, which are divided into two years of 60 ECTS credits each. Therefore, the planned duration is 1 or 2 years, respectively.

The official certificates of Bachelor and University Master are accompanied by the Diploma Supplement, according to the provisions in the EHEA.

  • Doctorate, aiming at advanced training in research techniques. For obtaining the Doctor certificate it is necessary to have passed a training period and a research period, named Doctorate Programme. This programme includes the preparation and presentation of the Doctoral Thesis, an original research work.

Artistic, Sports and Language Education

Artistic, Sport and Language Education have their own organisation and they are considered Specialised Education.

Artistic Education is organised as follows:

  • Elementary Music and Dance Education
  • Professional Artistic Education: Professional Education of Music and Dance and the intermediate and advanced training cycles of the Professional Artistic and Design Education
  • Advanced Artistic Education: Advanced Music and Dance Education, Dramatic Arts Education, Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Assets Education, Advanced Design studies and the Advanced Plastic Arts studies, including advanced studies of Glass and Ceramics.

Sport Education is organised in intermediate and advanced training cycles, with different access requirements in each case. Those successfully passing Intermediate Vocational Training obtain the qualification of  Sport Technician in the corresponding modality or branch, and those passing Advanced studies receive the qualification of Advanced Sport Technician. The qualifications achieved with these studies are considered equivalent, to all purposes, to the qualifications of Technician and Advanced Technician of FP.

Language Education is organised in three levels: basic, intermediate and advanced. These levels correspond, respectively, to levels A, B and C of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, and are subdivided into levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. Being 16 years old is a prerequisite for accessing them.

Pupils’ and families' rights and duties in compulsory education

The 1978 Spanish Constitution recognises the right to Education as one of the essential rights.

In 2007 the Constitutional Court established that the ownership of the right to Education includes the Spanish citizens and the foreign citizens living in Spain, regardless of their legal status.

In its basic level, education is compulsory and cost-free.

Pupils' basic rights and duties

Basic rights:

  • receive comprehensive instruction ensuring the full development of their personality
  • have their personal identity, integrity and dignity respected
  • have their dedication, effort and performance objectively assessed and recognised
  • receive academic and professional guidance
  • have their freedom of conscience, religious and moral convictions respected, according to the Constitution
  • be protected from physical or moral aggression
  • participate in the running of the school and get involved in school life
  • receive the necessary assistance and support to compensate for personal, family, financial and social and cultural disadvantage, particularly in the case of pupils with special educational needs
  • receive social protection, in the area of education, in cases of accident or family hardship.

They have also the right to associate, according to their age, through the creation of organisations, according to law.

Basic duties:

  • study and make an effort to achieve the maximum development according to their skills
  • participate in training activities and, particularly, in school and complementary activities
  • follow teachers’ guidelines
  • attend lessons punctually
  • participate and collaborate to improve school coexistence and achieve a suitable study environment, respecting the right of their schoolmates to education and teachers’ authority and directions
  • respect freedom of conscience, religious and moral beliefs, as well as the dignity, integrity and privacy of all the members of the educational community
  • respect the school rules on organisation, coexistence and discipline
  • take care and make good use of school facilities and learning materials.

(1985 Act Regulating the Right to Education).

Families’ rights and duties

Rights:

  • receive a quality education in accordance with the purposes established in the Constitution, the corresponding Statute of Autonomy and education laws
  • choose an educational institution, either public or different from those created by public authorities
  • ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions
  • be informed about their children’s progress in learning and social and educational integration
  • participate in their children’s teaching and learning process
  • participate in the organisation, running, governance and evaluation of the school. For more information, see Administration and governance at local and/or institutional level.
  • be heard in decisions that affect their children’s academic and professional guidance.

The education authorities must facilitate the exercise of parents’ right to association, as well as the forming of federations and confederations.

Duties:

  • adopt the necessary measures, or ask for help in the event of difficulty, so that their children or wards study compulsory education and attend classes regularly
  • provide them, in accordance with their means, with the necessary resources and conditions so that they can progress4
  • stimulate them so that they carry out the study activities assigned to them
  • actively participate in the activities established under the educational commitments established between educational institutions and families in order to improve their children’s performance
  • learn about, participate and support the evolution of their educational process, in collaboration with teachers and schools
  • respect and enforce the rules established by the school, and respect teachers’ authority and directions or indications
  • promote respect for all the members of the educational community.

(1985 Act Regulating the Right to Education).

Pupils’ and families’ rights and duties are also regulated within the State education authorities. In the Cities of Ceuta and Melilla it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, whereas in the Autonomous Communities they are regulated by the Departments for Education.

Their definition and implementation is established within the framework of school autonomy through the school rules, which are part of the school development plan. For more information, see Administration and governance at local and/or institutional level.

Educational institutions

Individuals and legal entities are free to create educational institutions, subject to observance of the constitutional principles.

Types of non-university educational institutions according to their ownership and source of funding

Public schools

they are owned by the education authority and publicly-funded

Private schools

they are privately owned  and privately-funded

Publicly-funded private schools

ownership is private but they can be publicly-funded through a regime of agreements

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-REDIE from the regulations in force.

Names of non-university educational institutions according to the education provided

Pre-primary schools

for pre-primary education pupils

they can provide the whole level (0-6 years old) or just the first cycle (0-3 years old)

Primary schools  (CEP)

for primary education pupils

Pre-primary and primary schools (CEIP)

for pre-primary and primary education pupils

Secondary schools (IES)

which can provide compulsory secondary education and/or Bachillerato and/or vocational cycles of vocational training

Special educational institutions

for students with special education needs which cannot be attended in ordinary institutions

Adult educational institutions

they provide for adult people

Adult education classrooms

integrated within primary educational institutions and/or IES, although they can also belong to city councils and local associations

they provide studies for adult people

Gathered rural schools (CRA)

group of several schools gathered in a single school working jointly 

they are located in rural areas needing this kind of school group due to their socio-demographic characteristics.

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-REDIE from the regulations in force.

Other types of institutions:

Vocational training is provided both in public and private educational institutions, authorised by the concerning Education Authority, and in institutions specifically regulated:

  • vocational training integrated institutions:theyinclude vocational training provision, integration and reintegration actions of workers into employment, continuing training aimed at employed workers, vocational information and guidance services and the evaluation of professional competences acquired through other non-formal studies and the working experience, within the framework of the National System for Qualifications and Vocational Training. Their provision is modular and flexible and they cover the two subsystems of Vocational Training, Vocational Training of the Education System and Vocational Training for employment (depending on the Ministry of Employment and Social Security).
  • national reference institutions specialised in the different productive sectors, carrying out innovation and experimentation action in terms of Vocational Training.

Universities, providing university education, can be classified, depending on their ownership, into public or private. They all comprise:

  • university schools
  • faculties
  • research university institutes
  • other centre or structure which might be necessary in order to perform their duties, such as the Higher Education Centres attached through agreements.

Finally, the Education Act also establishes the name of the institutions providing Specialised Education:

Names of educational institutions providing specialised education

TYPE OF PROVISION

NAME

STUDIES PROVIDED

Artistic Education

Conservatories of Music and Dance

elementary and professional Music and Dance Education

Higher conservatories or higher schools of Music and Dance

advanced Music and Dance Education

Art schools

professional Plastic Arts and Design Education 

Higher schools of Dramatic Arts

advanced Dramatic Arts Education

Higher schools for the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Assets

advanced Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Assets Education

Higher schools of Design

advanced Design Education

Higher schools of Plastic Arts

advanced Plastic Arts Education

Language Education

Official Language Schools

elementary, intermediate and advanced levels of language Education

the education authorities can include in this schools distance Language Education and Updating and Specialisation Courses

Sport Education

They do not have a specific name

public or private schools authorised by the corresponding Education Authority, included in FP institutions or in authorised institutions of the different sport federations.

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-REDIE from the regulations in force.