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Spain:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

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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

The educational provision of secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education is regulated by the 2006 Education Act and the 2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, which modifies the former.

It comprises the folowing types of provision:

  • compulsory secondary education: along with primary education, it constitutes the basic, compulsory and cost-free education period of the education system
  • basic vocational training
  • Bachillerato
  • intermediate vocational training.

Calendar for implementation of the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education

School year

Stage of education/Type of provision

Years

Elements

2014/15

Basic vocational training cycles

1st (1)

 

2015/16

Compulsory secondary education

1st and 3rd

Curriculum, organisation, objectives, requirements for the award of certificates, programmes, progression and evaluations

Bachillerato

1st

Basic vocational training cycles

2nd (2)

 

Intermediate vocational training

 

Curriculum

2016/17

Compulsory secondary education

2nd and 4th

Curriculum, organisation, objectives, requirements for the award of certificates, programmes, progression and evaluations

Bachillerato

2nd

(1) the compulsory modules of initial vocational qualification programmes will cease to be offered. During the 2014/15 academic year, students who successfully complete the voluntary modules of initial vocational qualification programmes will obtain the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate

(2) 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.

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-Spanish Network for Information on Education (National Centre for Educational Innovation and Research, Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) on the basis of the Act 8/2013, of 9 December 2013, on the Improvement of the Quality of Education.

In Spain, general lower secondary education corresponds to compulsory secondary education, an educational stage which must be completed after finishing primary education.

Compulsory secondary education covers four school years, from the age of 12 to 16, although pupils have the right to continue at this stage until the age of 18. Under certain repetition conditions, this age limit can be raised by one year.

Vocational lower secondary education does not actually exist as an educational stage.

Compulsory secondary education students who meet certain age and academic requirements may have access to the new basic vocational training cycles.

Students who successfully complete basic vocational training are awarded an official certificate with academic and professional validity throughout the national territory. In addition, it has the same effects as the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate regarding access to public and private sector employment.

General upper secondary education corresponds to Bachillerato and vocational upper secondary education to intermediate vocational training cycles. They both constitute post-compulsory secondary education and enable students who hold the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate and wish to continue studying to choose between an academic and a vocational branch.

Bachillerato lasts two academic years, generally between the ages of 16 to 18.

Intermediate vocational training is organised into different training cycles, which are made up of vocational modules, vary in length and include theoretical and practical contents corresponding to the different professional fields.

All the training cycles refer to the National Catalogue of Vocational Qualifications and their curricula adapt to the requirements of the National System of Qualifications and Vocational Training. For more information, see Lifelong learning strategy.

Post-secondary non-tertiary education does not exist in Spain.

Language, Artistic and Sports education are considered as specialised education. Those students who complete compulsory education can access Music and Dance studies, intermediate Plastic Arts and Design studies and intermediate Sports education.

Language education may be started at the age of 16, or 14 if the language is different from the one studied in compulsory secondary education.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport is responsible for setting the the basic curriculum for each stage of secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education, establishing the objectives, skills, contents, assessable learning standards and outcomes and evaluation criteria for the whole State.

The education authorities complete these requirements for their respective regions.

Aim and general objectives

Compulsory secondary education

Compulsory education is aimed at guaranteeing the development of the key skills, to the acquisition of which both primary and compulsory secondary education must contribute. The Spanish education system focuses on the abilities to implement the contents of each type of provision and educational stage in an integrated manner, in order to achieve a correct execution of activities and effective complex problem solving. For more information, see Primary education.

The aim of compulsory secondary education is getting students to:

  • acquire basic cultural elements, especially humanistic, artistic, scientific and technological aspects
  • develop and strengthen their study and work habits
  • prepare them for further studies and/or access to the labour market
  • train them to exercise their rights and duties in life as citizens.

The general objectives of this educational stage are the following:

  • assume their duties on a responsible basis and know and exercise their rights respecting others, practise tolerance, cooperation and solidarity among people and groups, practise dialogue, strengthening human rights as the values of a plural society, and prepare for the exercise of democratic citizenship
  • develop and consolidate discipline, study and individual and team work habits as a necessary condition for performing successfully in learning tasks and as means of personal development
  • appreciate and respect gender difference and equality of rights and opportunities. Reject stereotypes that can lead to discrimination between men and women
  • reinforce their emotional abilities in all the areas of personality and in their relationships with others, reject violence, prejudices of any kind and sexist behaviour, and solve conflicts peacefully
  • develop basic skills regarding the use of information sources in order to acquire new knowledge critically. Obtain basic competence in the field of technologies, and especially in information and communication technologies
  • conceive of scientific knowledge as comprehensive, structured into various disciplines, and know and apply methods to identify problems in the different areas of knowledge and experience
  • develop an entrepreneurial spirit and self-confidence, participation, critical sense, personal initiative and an ability to develop learning techniques, plan, take decisions and take on responsibilities
  • understand and correctly produce complex texts and messages, both orally and written, in the Spanish language, and, if applicable, in the co-official language of their Autonomous Community, and take first steps towards an awareness, reading and study of literature
  • understand and express themselves in one or more foreign languages correctly
  • know, appreciate and respect the basic aspects of their own and others’ culture and history, as well as artistic and cultural heritage
  • know and accept how their own and others’ body work, respect differences, consolidate hygiene and health habits and include physical education and sport in order to enhance both personal and social development. Know and value the human dimension of sexuality in all its dimensions. Critically appraise social habits regarding health, consumption, care of living beings and the environment, contributing to its conservation and improvement
  • value artistic creation and understand the language of the different artistic forms, employing different means of expression and representation.

(2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education and Royal Decree establishing the basic curriculum for compulsory secondary education).

The Autonomous Communities complete the general objectives of this stage.

Bachillerato

The aim of Bachillerato is:

  • provide students with intellectual and humane education, as well as the knowledge and skills through which they may develop the social functions and actively participate in life with responsibility and competence
  • provide specialised training, in line with the expectations and training interests of students, in such a way that it enables them to have access to higher education.

The general objectives of this educational stage are the following:

  • exercise democratic citizenship from a global perspective, and acquire responsible civic awareness, inspired by the values of the Spanish Constitution and human rights, which promotes joint responsibility as to the creation of a fairer society and favours sustainability.
  • consolidate personal and social maturity so that they may act in a responsible and autonomous manner and develop their critical spirit Foresee and solve family, personal and social conflicts peacefully
  • promote effective and equal rights and opportunities for men and women, analyse and critically appraise existing inequalities, and foster real equality and prevent discrimination of disabled people
  • reinforce reading, study and discipline habits, as necessary conditions to succeed in learning and as a means of personal development
  • master the Spanish language, both orally and written, and, if applicable, the co-official language of their Autonomous Community
  • express themselves fluently and correctly in one or more foreign languages
  • use information and communication technologies reliably and responsibly
  • know and critically appraise critically the realities of the contemporary world, its historical background and the main factors influencing its evolution. Participate in the development and improvement of the social environment in a caring way
  • have access to basic scientific and technological knowledge and master the basic abilities of the chosen type of Bachillerato
  • understand the basic elements and procedures of research and scientific methods. Know and appreciate, on a critical basis, how science and technology have contributed to change life conditions, and consolidate sensitiveness and respect towards the environment
  • consolidate the entrepreneurial spirit with attitudes based on creativity, flexibility, initiative, teamwork, self-confidence and critical sense
  • develop artistic and literary sensitivity as well as aesthetic criteria as sources for training and cultural enrichment
  • use physical education and sport in order to increase personal and social development
  • consolidate attitudes based on respect and prevention in the field of road safety. 

(2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education and Royal Decree establishing the basic curriculum for Bachillerato).

The Autonomous Communities complete the general objectives of this stage.

Vocational training

The aim of vocational training is:

  • prepare students to work in a professional field and facilitate their adaptation to possible future changes in the labour market
  • contribute to their personal development and the exercise of democratic citizenship
  • ensure their progression through the education system, the system of vocational training for employment and lifelong learning.

The objective of vocational training is to enable students to acquire the learning outcomes that allow them to: 

  • develop the skills of the relevant vocational training qualification
  • understand the organisation and the characteristics of the relevant productive sector, as well as the mechanisms to access the labour market
  • be familiar with employment legislation and the rights and duties deriving from labour relations
  • learn independently and through teamwork, and be trained in conflict prevention and the peaceful resolution of conflict in all areas of personal, family and social life, with particular emphasis on the prevention of gender-based violence
  • promote equal opportunities for men and women, as well as for people with disabilities, in order to have access to a training that enables all sorts of professional options and their exercise
  • work in safe and healthy conditions, and predict possible work-related risks
  • develop a professional identity that encourages future learning and adaptation to the evolution of productive processes and social change
  • consolidate an entrepreneurial spirit to carry out professional activities and initiatives
  • prepare students for their progression through the education system
  • know and prevent environmental risks.

Basic vocational training cycles contribute to the students’ acquisition and consolidation of lifelong learning skills.

Intermediate vocational training contributes to the upgrade of basic education skills, by adapting them to a professional field or sector, enabling students to extend their lifelong learning, progress through the education system, and participate in working life with responsibility and autonomy.

Schools providing secondary education

Secondary schools providing compulsory secondary education also teach Bachillerato and, in most of the cases, vocational training.

The latter is also offered in vocational training integrated institutions and national reference institutions, which are specialised in the different productive sectors.

For more information, see Educational institutions.

Educational policy

The priority objectives of Spain’s educational policy are the following:

  • increase the number of students who successfully complete compulsory secondary education and who obtain a qualification
  • increase the number of students aged 15-19 who are enrolled (continuance in the education system after compulsory education)
  • increase the number of students who successfully complete any of the educational stages of post-compulsory secondary education, the minimum level of education necessary to ensure a competitive position in the rapidly-changing world of work (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD)
  • increase the attractiveness and relevance of vocational training of the education system
  • directly improve the quality of the education system through external evaluations at the end of the stage. These evaluations will be formative and diagnostic, and will help to improve student learning, school management measures and the policies of the education authorities. They will be equivalent to the ones carried out at international level, particularly those conducted by the OECD, and will focus on the level of skill acquisition
  • rationalise educational provision, strengthening the learning of core subjects, which contribute to the acquisition of key competences for the academic development of students
  • provide personalised attention to students throughout schooling and make educational paths more flexible, so that they can develop their full potential
  • support multilingualism, helping students to become fluent in, at least, a first foreign language
  • integrate and promote information and communication technologies.

For more information, see National reforms in school education and National reforms in vocational education and training and adult learning.