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Spain:Vocational Lower Secondary Education: Basic Vocational Training cycles

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Spain:Vocational Lower Secondary Education: Basic Vocational Training cycles

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Basic vocational training

The 2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education established these training cycles within the reform of vocational training of the education system, as a measure to facilitate students’ continuity and provide better possibilities for personal and professional development.

Basic vocational training provision corresponds to a professional profile that includes at least the competence units of a full Level 1 vocational qualification of the National Catalogue of Vocational Qualifications.

The aim of basic vocational training is that:

  • students acquire and consolidate lifelong learning skills
  • they obtain a certificate with academic and professional validity, which allows progression through the education system
  • it qualifies to exercise a given profession and provides access to public and private sector employment.

The duration of basic vocational training cycles:

  • 2 000 hours, the equivalent to two full-time academic years
  • if the training cycles are included in dual vocational training programmes, this duration can be increased to three academic years
  • students may take the same cycle up to a maximum of 4 years.

Schools providing basic vocational training

The most frequent case is that basic vocational training is offered in educational institutions also providing compulsory secondary education. Although they are organised independently, they may share human and material resources. Basic vocational training can also be offered in institutions that are exclusively devoted to providing vocational training.

Characteristics of schooling in publicly-funded schools:

  • it must be free, since all pupils’ access to education, with no discrimination on social or economic grounds, must be guaranteed
  • under no circumstances may schools receive contributions from families for the education received
  • the education authorities are responsible for the funding of schools so that education, which does not include extracurricular and complementary activities and school services (that must be voluntary), can be free.

Pupil admission and choice of institution

The teaching team may propose access to a basic vocational training cycle provided that the access requirements are met:

  • be (or turn) 15 within the current calendar year, and not older than 17 at the time of access or during the current calendar year
  • have completed the first cycle of compulsory secondary education or, exceptionally, the 2nd year of compulsory secondary education
  • the teaching team has proposed parents or legal guardians that students should have access to a basic vocational training, since the degree of acquisition of skills so dictates
  • students over the age of 17 who do not hold a vocational training certificate, or any other certificate of full secondary education, provided there are still places available once the admission process is over
  • the education authorities may establish other additional admission criteria depending on the number of places being offered (e.g. the age of the applicant, his/her academic situation or his/her possibilities in the education system).

Age and grouping of pupils

The organisation of this type of provision is flexible in order to adapt to the different situations of students.

The number of teachers of the same group of students is kept as small as possible, and educational elements as well class times of the different vocational modules included in the Basic Vocational Training Certificate are observed.

Main characteristics:

  • students are generally between the ages of 15 and 17
  • a form teacher is assigned to each group of students
  • vocational modules linked to common blocks are taught by the specialist teachers of compulsory secondary education
  • as for the rest of the modules linked to competence units, each basic vocational training qualification establishes the specialisations required
  • the education authorities are responsible for establishing the number of students per group in each training cycle, depending on its characteristics, the location of the educational institution and the organisation of specific groups
  • the teacher/student ratio per unit is regulated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, which establishes a maximum of 30 students per unit. To the student ratio limit mentioned above, a further 20% was added, due to the measures on the limitation on public expenditure issued in 2012. The education authorities were to determine the increase in the ratio whenever there was no further authorisation for the accommodation of new civil servant teachers in a Public Provision for Employment, or whenever there was an effective replacement rate below 50%. In 2015, the Ministry of Finance and Public Administration raised that percentage to 50%. This decision is the responsibility of each Autonomous Community.

Organisation of the school year

The education authorities, within their jurisdiction, are responsible for annually establishing the school year, taking into account the minimum requirements set by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport for the whole State.

The school year comprises a minimum of 175 days, organised in terms and distributed between the first fortnight of September and late June.

School holidays are distributed throughout the academic year:

  • 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 (Easter)
  • and around 7 bank holidays established by the central Government or regional and/or local authorities.

During summer holidays, schools can remain open until the end of July. Depending on the organisation of each educational institution, this may also be the case with the days that are not a bank holiday during Christmas and Easter.

Organisation of the day and the week

There are no state regulations on the daily and weekly timetable. It is the Autonomous Communities that regulate these aspects and schools are allowed some degree of autonomy to organise the day and the week.

In general, the weekly timetable comprises 30 lessons lasting 55 minutes each, i.e., 6 lessons a day from Monday to Friday.

The management team, in accordance with the requirements set by the School Council and after consultation with the Teachers’ Assembly, designs a general timetable with the distribution of the school day. This timetable specifies:

  • the time and conditions in which the institution is open during non-school time available to the educational community
  • the time when ordinary school activities of the different stages, cycles and years are carried out
  • the time and conditions when facilities and services are available for students’ use.

The relevant education authorities must ratify the timetable. If it is not authorised, they return it to the school so that it can be revised and corrected. They also determine the procedures for municipal authorities to use the educational institutions, during non-school time, in order to carry out educational, cultural, sports and social activities.

Curriculum of basic vocational training

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, after consultation with the Autonomous Communities, is responsible for establishing the corresponding vocational training qualifications, as well as the basic aspects of their curricula. Since May 2014, different basic vocational training qualifications and their curricula for the whole State have been approved. For more information, see TodoFP.es.

At present, there are 27 Basic Vocational Training Certificates:

  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Agricultural and Livestock Activities
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Baking and Pastry Making Activities
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Domestic Activities and Building Cleaning
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Maritime-Fishing Activities
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Gardening and Floral Compositions
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Accommodation and Laundry Services
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Forestry Activities
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Textile and Leather Repair and Alteration
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Graphic Arts
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Carpentry and Furniture
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Cooking and Restaurant Industry
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Electricity and Electronics
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Manufacture of Metal Elements
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Manufacturing and Assembling
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Food Industries
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Computing and Communications
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Desktop Computing
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Electro-Technical Installations and Mechanics
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Maintenance of Vessels for Recreational and Sports Purposes
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Vehicle Maintenance
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Housing Maintenance
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Hairdressing and Aesthetics
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Building Reform and Maintenance
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Administrative Services
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Commercial Services
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Upholstery and Drapery
  • Basic Vocational Training Certificate in Glassworks and Pottery.

The 27 Basic Vocational Training Certificates belong to 18 occupational families:

  • Administration and Management
  • Graphic Arts
  • Trade and Marketing
  • Building and Civil Engineering
  • Electricity and Electronics
  • Mechanical Manufacturing
  • Hotel Industry and Tourism
  • Personal Image
  • Food Industries
  • Computing and Communications
  • Installation and Maintenance
  • Wood, Furniture and Cork
  • Socio-Cultural and Community Services
  • Textile, Clothing and Leather
  • Transport and Vehicle Maintenance
  • Glass and Ceramics.

The different Autonomous Communities add to these basic regulations, establishing, for their respective territories, the curricula of the training cycles corresponding to the various qualifications available.

Educational institutions develop such curricula by drawing up their yearly general programme, whose objectives, contents, evaluation criteria, sequencing and methodology must respond to the characteristics of the student body as well as the training possibilities which are available in the surrounding area.

Structure and curriculum

Basic Vocational Training Certificates have the same structure as the rest of vocational training provision of the education system, and also include lifelong learning skills.

The vocational modules of each qualification must be expressed in terms of contents, evaluation criteria and learning outcomes, also considering the professional, personal, social and lifelong learning skills to be developed.

Basic vocational training cycles include the following vocational modules:

  1. modules linked to competence units of the National Catalogue of Vocational Qualifications
  2. modules linked to the common blocks established by the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, which ensure the acquisition of lifelong learning skills:

Communication and Society I and II module

Applied Sciences I and II module

Spanish Language

Foreign Language

Social Sciences

Co-Official Language, in those Autonomous Communities with a co-official language.

Mathematics Applied to the Personal and Learning Context in a Professional Field

Science Applied to the Personal and Learning Context in a Professional Field.

  1. work placement module.

These modules are compulsory in the 1st and 2nd year and they are defined in relation to the professional field of the qualification concerned.

The vocational modules of Communication and Society and Applied Sciences:

  • are based on the curriculum of the subjects of compulsory secondary education included in the modules, as well as on the professional profile of the relevant vocational training qualification
  • the number of hours for these modules together generally represents between 35% and 40% of the total duration of the cycle, including an hour of tutoring per week.

The work placement module:

  • it corresponds to what is established for these modules in the rest of vocational training of the education system
  • the education authorities decide at which point of the programme students can take this module, depending on the specific characteristics of the programme and the availability of placement positions in companies
  • its duration must represent at least 12% of the total duration of the training cycle.

All basic vocational training cycles include, as cross-cutting themes, the following aspects:

  • teamwork, health and safety at work, entrepreneurship, business and career counselling
  • respect for the environment and promotion of physical activity and a healthy diet
  • skills related to reading comprehension, oral and written expression, audiovisual communication, information and communication technologies and civic and constitutional education.

The education authorities have to ensure the certification of training in health and safety at work when the productive sector corresponding to the professional profile of the relevant qualification so requires. This training can be provided as a specific training unit within the work placement module.

As all these contents are cross-cutting, the skills and contents involved must be clearly specified within the different learning and evaluation activities.

Teaching methods and materials

The organisation of basic vocational training is flexible in order to adapt to the different situations of students.

Teaching methods in this type of provision have an overall nature and tend to lead to the integration of skills and contents within the different vocational modules. In addition, they adapt to students’ needs and the gradual acquisition of lifelong learning skills, in order to facilitate the transition to working and civil life and continuity throughout the education system.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport establishes that educational institutions are free to draw up their own methodological proposals, which must observe the following general principles:

  • attention to diversity
  • students’ access to common education
  • promotion of the necessary measures in order to develop academic supervision
  • development of guidance and regulation of specific solutions to cater for pupils with special learning difficulties and highly-gifted students.

Educational institutions have pedagogical autonomy to define and develop the curriculum established by the relevant Autonomous Community. In their school development plan, they define the specific teaching/learning methodology they consider most appropriate to meet the characteristics and needs of their students.

The Teachers’ Assembly is the body responsible for planning, coordinating and deciding on teaching aspects.

At classroom level, teachers, in accordance with what has previously been mentioned and in the exercise of their academic freedom, are free to choose the methodology, materials and didactic resources they deem most suitable to ensure the development of their students.

Academic supervision and educational and vocational guidance are considered to be of particular importance. Their characteristics are the following:

  • academic supervision guides students’ individual and collective educational process
  • it contributes to the acquisition of social skills and helps to develop their self-esteem
  • it contributes to build the skills and abilities to make progress along their educational and professional pathway
  • each basic vocational training group has, at least, a one-hour weekly tutoring session each year
  • the form teacher has to develop an annual programming for academic supervision that is included in the school development plan
  • the annual tutoring programme must include specific information and guidance activities guaranteeing students that they make the most appropriate decisions regarding their educational and professional path on completion of the basic vocational training cycle.

Teaching methods in basic vocational training should integrate the relevant scientific, technological and organisational aspects in order to provide students with a global overview of the productive processes of the professional activity in question.

The publication and adoption of textbooks and teaching materials does not require previous authorisation from the education authority. In any case, they:

  • must have the appropriate level of scientific rigour and adapt to the curriculum established by each education authority
  • must reflect and encourage respect for the constitutional principles, values, liberties, rights and duties, as well as for the principles and values included in current educational legislation and the Act on Comprehensive Protection Measures against Gender Violence, to which all educational activity must adapt.

The supervision of textbooks and other curricular materials is part of the regular process of inspection carried out by the education authority of all the elements included in the teaching/learning process.

The textbook selection process follows some guidelines in all educational institutions:

  • Pedagogical Coordination Commission of each educational institution: it prepares a report on the textbooks that are considered most appropriate
  • School Council and Teachers’ Assembly: they supervise the report of the Commission
  • Teachers: they are responsible for the final decision
  • if the School Council does not agree with this decision, suggestions can be made for the Teachers’ Assembly to consider them.

Pupils’ homework outside school hours is not regulated in any official document; it is each teacher who organises it.

Evaluation of pupils

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport regulates the academic evaluation and accreditation processes of students of vocational training of the education system for the whole State. 

The education authorities develop these aspects for their respective regions. 

Characteristics of the evaluation of learning:

  • it is continuous, formative and integrative, and helps to adapt both student learning and educational programmes
  • it takes into account the objectives and evaluation criteria of each vocational module and the general objectives of the training cycle
  • the marks of the different vocational modules are decided by the relevant teacher
  • the rest of decisions on the evaluation process are agreed by consensus among all teachers
  • form teachers and teachers are in constant communication with students regarding the assessment of the learning process. 

Marks in the process of evaluation of learning:

  • they are expressed in numbers from 1 to 10 (whole numbers only). A 5 or over is considered a Pass
  • completion of a training cycle thus requires a Pass grade in all the vocational modules comprised in the cycle
  • the final mark of the training cycle is the arithmetic mean expressed with two decimal points
  • the mark for the work placement module is expressed in terms of Passed/Failed. The form teacher of the educational institution participates, together with the person appointed by the company to supervise the work placement module, in assessing it
  • at the end of each academic year, in the final evaluation session, the final mark of the different vocational modules is given.

Examination sessions in the evaluation of learning:

  • each vocational module may be subject to assessment in two sessions each of the 4 years students may be pursuing these studies, and only in a maximum of two sessions for the work placement module
  • on grounds of illness, disability, or other circumstances conditioning or preventing the normal course of studies, the education authorities may organise additional sessions for those students who have exhausted all opportunities for reassessment
  • the work placement module, regardless of the time when it is completed, is evaluated once students have passed the vocational modules linked to competence units of the National Catalogue of Vocational Qualifications included in the work placement period.

Documents of the process of evaluation of learning:

  • academic certificate: official document which includes the grades obtained by students until the relevant certification is issued
  • student record: it includes the grades obtained 
  • school assessment reports: they include information and the resolutions adopted by the teaching team at the evaluation session
  • personalised assessment reports.

Academic certificates and personalised assessment reports guarantee pupils’ mobility. 

The procedures and dates for complaints about decisions and the grades obtained in the end-of-term examinations, managed by the Autonomous Communities, are established in the Departments of the different occupational families.

If, after the revision process, there is still disagreement with the grade, students, or their parents or guardians, may ask, in writing and to the headteacher of the institution, for an alternative revision process by the relevant education authority.

At present, it is possible to recognise the professional competences acquired through work experience or non-formal training:

  • those who are accredited with one-year full-time experience relating to the respective professional studies may be totally or partially exempt from the work placement module
  • it is accredited through a certificate issued by the company where the experience was gained, which specifies the duration of the contract, the activity carried out and the period of time during which the activity was exercised
  • in the case of self-employed workers, a certificate of registration, for a minimum of a year, at the tax register of parties liable for tax payments, as well as a statement of the most representative activities carried out by the applicant, are also required
  • priority is given to the evaluation and accreditation of professional competences related to growing sectors which are generating employment, unemployed people who lack an accredited professional qualification and those sectors where there are regulations which require a formal accreditation for workers to get or maintain a job.

Progression of pupils

As a result of the evaluation process, the relevant decisions on students’ progression are taken collegially by the teaching team at the end of each year, bearing in mind the achievement of the objectives of the vocational modules taken.

The Autonomous Communities establish the requirements for progression to the 2nd year, provided one of the following conditions is met:

  • having passed all the vocational modules of the 1st year
  • if the vocational modules linked to competence units they have failed do not represent more than 20% of the weekly timetable; however, students will have to enrol in the modules of the 1st year
  • if students progress to the 2nd year with failed vocational modules, they will have to participate in the activities planned for them to retake them, and they will have to be informed about their schedule, timing and the date of the evaluation.

The education authorities determine the conditions for educational institutions to organise the corresponding supplementary examinations for each year, which are held in September.

Students who do not progress will join the group of those starting the training cycle, will have to carry out all the activities of the failed vocational modules and, if it is the case, will be evaluated during the periods established for the rest of the group.

Before the final ordinary examination is held and prior to the relevant decision, students, or their parents or guardians if they are minors, are informed about the decisions adopted and can complain about them. Educational institutions establish in their school development plan the procedure for them to complain.

Certification

Students who successfully complete a basic vocational training cycle are awarded the corresponding Basic Vocational Training Certificate.

This certificate is equivalent to the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate regarding access to public and private employment. Academically, they are qualified to:

  • have access to intermediate vocational training cycles
  • obtain the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate, by sitting the final examination at the end of compulsory secondary education, in any of its two options: academic or applied. For more information, see External evaluation at the end of compulsory secondary education.

Until this final evaluation is implemented, it has been established that the students that obtain a Basic Vocational Training Certificate in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 academic years will also obtain the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate, provided the teaching team considers they have achieved the objectives of compulsory secondary education and acquired the relevant skills. In these cases, the final mark for compulsory secondary education will be the average mark obtained in the modules linked to common blocks.

Students aged 22 who prove the professional competence required, through Level 1 certificates of professional experience or the evaluation and accreditation procedure established, may also be awarded this certificate.

Students who do not obtain the Basic Vocational Training Certificate on completion of their studies are awarded an academic certificate for the vocational modules passed. This certificate has the corresponding academic effect, as well as the effect of partial cumulative accreditation of the professional competences acquired regarding the National System of Qualifications and Vocational Training.

The State General Administration, after consultation with the General Council for Vocational Training, in is charge of determining the conditions and basic regulations in order to obtain these certificates.

They specify the grades obtained, both Pass and Fail grades, as well as the specific examination session (ordinary or supplementary) and academic year they were obtained, until the relevant certification is issued.

The certificates are issued, on behalf of the King, by the Minister of Education or the relevant body in the Autonomous Community in question. The following details must be included on the back:

  • explicit mention of the fact that the certificate is issued, on behalf of the King, by the Minister of Education or the relevant regional authority
  • mention of the fact that it is issued on successful completion of the corresponding studies leading to the award of the certificate
  • name and surnames, place and date of birth and nationality of the student
  • name and location of the educational institution where the studies were completed, month and year of completion and, where legally appropriate, final mark obtained
  • place and date of issue of the certificate
  • evidence of the official status of the certificate
  • three signatures: in the case of the Autonomous Communities, the signatures of the competent body, the relevant authority of the executive body responsible for controlling the issuing of certificates in the Autonomous Community and the interested party. As for the certificates issued by the Ministry of Education, the signatures of the Minister, the Director-General responsible for issuing and the interested party
  • the national and regional regulations guaranteeing the official nature of the studies.

Recognition and exemption

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport enables the recognition and exemption from studies.

The conditions and procedures applied are the same as those generally established for vocational training provision:

  1. students who have successfully completed the common modules of a basic vocational training cycle have them recognised for any other basic vocational training cycle they may take.
  2. students who have completed an Initial Vocational Qualification Programme:
  • if they have passed the compulsory training modules of the communication and social fields, and if they have also passed the Foreign Language module, they might be recognised the Communication and Society I vocational module
  • if they have passed the compulsory training module of the scientific/technological field, they might be recognised the Applied Sciences I vocational module.
  1. students aged over 17 who take basic vocational training cycles might be recognised the following:
  • if they have passed the subjects of the 4th year of compulsory secondary education in any of their options included in the Communication and Social Sciences block, they might be recognised the Communication and Society I and II modules
  • if they have passed the subject of Mathematics of the 4th year of compulsory secondary education in any of its options, they might be recognised the Applied Sciences I and II modules.