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Spain:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

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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

Curriculum, subjects, number of hours

Curriculum refers to the regulation of the elements influencing the teaching and learning processes for each type of provision. It comprises the following elements:

  • objectives of each type of provision and educational stage
  • skills, or students’ 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
  • contents, that is, the set of knowledge, abilities, skills and attitudes which contribute to the achievement of the objectives of each type of provision and educational stage as well as to the acquisition of the skills
  • teaching methodology, comprising the description of teaching practices as well as the organisation of teachers’ work
  • assessable learning standards and outcomes
  • criteria to assess the degree of acquisition of the skills and the achievement of the objectives of each type of provision and educational stage.

(2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education).

Although the 2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, in line with the former 2006 Education Act, maintains the name basic skills, the regulations developing the Act and establishing the basic curriculum for primary education in 2014 use, for the first time, the term key skills. This change is terminological rather than conceptual, as they both refer to the same thing: application of acquired knowledge (Education Act) and knowledge put into practice (Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education).

The basic curriculum for primary education identifies seven key skills that are of utmost importance for the wellbeing of European societies, economic growth and innovation. It also describes the essential knowledge, abilities and attitudes attached to each one of the skills:

  • linguistic communication
  • mathematical and basic skills in science and technology
  • digital.
  • learning to learn
  • social and civic
  • sense of initiative and entrepreneurship
  • cultural awareness and expression.

(In line with the Recommendation 2006/962/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006).

For skills to be efficiently acquired and effectively integrated into the curriculum, integrated learning activities that would allow students to move towards the acquisition of more than one skill at a time, as many of them overlap and interlock, must be designed. There is not a one-to-one relationship between the teaching of certain areas or subjects and the development of some specific skills. Each area or subject contributes to the development of different skills and each skill is in turn acquired through work in the various areas or subjects.

The following skills must be strengthened in the curriculum of primary education:

  • linguistic communication
  • mathematical and basic skills in science and technology
  • reading comprehension, oral and written expression, audiovisual communication, information and communication technologies (ICT), entrepreneurship and civic and constitutional education, without prejudice to the fact that they could be given specific attention in some of the subjects.

Primary education is organised into:

  • core subjects: they ensure the knowledge and skills allowing to acquire a solid education and successfully continue through the following stages in those subjects that must be common for all students
  • specific subjects: they allow greater autonomy when establishing the subjects being offered, as well as the number of hours and the contents of the subjects
  • subjects that are freely structured by the Autonomous Communities: the education authorities and educational institutions offer subjects of their own design or broaden core or specific subjects.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport sets the basic curriculum with the purpose of assuring a common training for all the pupils. It also determines the minimum number of teaching hours corresponding to the contents of the set of core subjects, which, calculated globally for the whole primary education, shall not be less than 50% of the total number of teaching hours generally established by each education authority for the stage. Possible extensions of school hours which might be established are not taken into account.

The education authorities of the Autonomous Communities:

  • set the maximum number of teaching hours, as well as the number of hours corresponding to the contents of specific subjects and the subjects that are freely structured by the Autonomous Communities
  • complete the contents of core subjects, establish the contents of specific subjects and the subjects that are freely structured by the Autonomous Communities
  • recommend teaching methodologies to schools
  • complement the evaluation criteria for core and specific subjects, as well as establish the evaluation criteria and learning standards for the subjects that are freely structured by the Autonomous Communities.

The education authorities completed the basic curriculum of the new primary education provision in 2014.

The curriculum of primary education is organised in successive levels of concretion, in which they progressively adapt to the specificities of the school environment and the pupils attending. For more information, see Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional level.

Accordingly, schools also play an active role, developing and adapting the curriculum to the pupils' needs and to their environment. To this end, they prepare a series of tools for formulating their pedagogic and curricular organisation:

  • school development plan, including the curricular application of the education authority
  • Yearly General Programme
  • didactic programmes
  • written paper at the end of the school year, collecting and evaluating the school activities and running.

The education community takes part in the preparation of these documents through the respective government and teaching coordination bodies of the school. The preparation of the school development plan and of the Yearly General Programme correspond to the leadership team, according to the criteria and proposals of the school governing bodies. For more information, see Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level.

Educational provision in primary education

Primary education: Organised in 6 years.

Core subjects

studied every year

Natural Sciences
Social Sciences
Spanish Language and Literature
Mathematics
First Foreign Language

Specific subjects

studied every year

Physical Education,

Religion or

Social and Civic Values (to be chosen by parents or tutors)

Students choose at least one:

  • Arts Education
  • Second Foreign Language
  • Religion
  • Social and Civic Values

Subjects that are freely structured by the Autonomous Communities

depending on the regulation established by each education authority

Co-Official Language and Literature, which has the same status as the area of Spanish Language and Literature.

Areas from the set of specific subjects that have not been taken by the student or areas to be determined.

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 2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education.

Thus, students take:

  • core and specific subjects established: they are compulsory for students. They must choose at least one of the specific subjects that are optional and that have been established by the relevant education authority and the specific school
  • Co-Official Language and Literature: they study it within the set of subjects that are freely structured by the Autonomous Communities, although they may be exempt from studying or being evaluated in it provided the conditions specified in the relevant regional regulations are met
  • subjects that are freely structured by the Autonomous Communities: they may study one or several subjects from the set, depending on the programme established by each education authority and each educational institution.

Teaching hours per subject in primary education (percentage of the total number of hours of compulsory education). 2015

Language, Writing and Literature

25

Mathematics

17

Natural Sciences

7

Social Studies

7

Second Language

10

Physical Education and Health

9

Arts

9

Compulsory subjects with a flexible schedule

7

Compulsory options chosen by the student

9

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 Education at a Glance 2015.

The education authorities establish the linguistic models regarding the teaching of the official languages in their management sphere. For more information, see Population: Demographic situation, languages and religions.

In addition, they may establish that part of the subjects of the curriculum might be taught in a foreign language, without altering the basic aspects of the curriculum. By the end of the stage, students must master the terminology of the subjects in both languages. Schools offering part of the subjects of the curriculum in a foreign language must not include language requirements as admission requirements. (2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education).

Teaching methods and materials

Teaching methods

The teaching methodology is the set of strategies, procedures and actions consciously and thoughtfully organised and planned by teachers with the aim of making student learning and the attainment of the stated objectives possible. It comprises the description of teaching practices as well as the organisation of teachers’ work.

(2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education).

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport establishes the methodological principles that must guide the teaching practice in primary education:

  • attention to pupils diversity, prevention of learning difficulties and development of appropriate reinforcement mechanisms to tackle with such difficulties
  • development of reading comprehension, oral and written expression, audiovisual communication and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and valued-based education
  • devotion of daily time to reading in class, as a mean for promoting an adequate reading habit among pupil
  • Spanish or the relevant Co-Official Language will only be used as a support in the foreign language learning process. Priority will be given to oral comprehension and expression.

In the case of the teaching and evaluation of the foreign language for students with special needs, particularly those with oral expression difficulties, flexibility measures and alternative methods, which in no case will be taken into account to lower the grades obtained, must be established.

The education authorities are responsible for making methodological recommendations to educational institutions within their remit, expanding and specifying these methodological principles, within the limits set by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

Within their pedagogic autonomy, schools are in charge of defining the teaching methods in the classroom, according to the said pedagogic principles. They also decide on curricular materials and didactic resources.

Every teacher can take his/her own methodological decisions, which must respect the agreements at school and regional level.

Materials and information and communication technologies

The edition and adoption of textbooks and other teaching materials:

  1. do not require the previous authorisation by the education authority
  2. must be adapted to the scientific rigour adequate for the pupils’ age group and to the approved curriculum set by the Autonomous Community
  3. must reflect and encourage respect for the constitutional principles, values, freedoms, rights and duties, as well as the principles and values compiled by the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education and the Organic Act on comprehensive protection measures against gender violence (2004).

The textbooks selection process follows some guidelines in all the education institutions:

  1. Pedagogical Coordination Commission of each school: it prepares a report with the most appropriate textbooks. This report is supervised by the School Board and by the Teachers Assembly
  2. teachers are responsible for the final decision on these books choice
  3. if the School Board does not agree with the teachers' decision, they can make their own suggestions to the Teachers Assembly, for them to be considered.

The supervision of textbooks and other curricular materials is part of the ordinary process of inspection carried out by the Education Authority on all the elements composing the teaching and learning process.

Families pay for textbooks and school materials. This funding comes exclusively from private sources, supplements public expenditure and covers expenses such as the ones just mentioned, among others, in both public and publicly-funded private schools.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, through the Sectoral Committee for Education, promotes the free loan of textbooks and other curricular materials for basic education in publicly-funded educational institutions. For more information, see Sectoral Committee for Education.

In addition, there are some State, regional and municipal subsidies for acquiring the material aimed at pupils of publicly-funded schools. For more information, see Early Childhood and School Education Funding.

Regarding ICT, they must play a fundamental role in producing the methodological change required in order to improve educational quality. The education authorities are in charge of providing public schools with all the necessary IT infrastructure with the goal of assuring its incorporation into the educational processes. The need to integrate ICT into the classroom through every curricular area is also emphasised. (2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education). For more information, see E-literacy, media literacy and innovative learning environments.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport offers the educational community digital and technological access platforms, which include educational resources provided by the education authorities and other agents for their shared use. Resources are selected in accordance with methodological quality parameters, the adoption of open standards and the availability of sources facilitating their dissemination, adaptation, reuse and redistribution, being recognised as such.

The average number of computers per group of students was 6.4 in 2014/15. In the same school year, the percentage of schools with an Internet connection was 99.9%.

Lastly, it is worth mentioning that there are not specific regulations for pupils' homework outside school hours. That is why its organisation is subject to every teacher's decision.