National Educational System


The education system in Spain includes:

  • Education authorities, education professionals and other public and private agents, who carry out functions of regulation, financing or provision of services for the exercise of the right to education contained in the Spanish Constitution of 1978.
  • Holders of the right to education.
  • The set of relationships, structures, measures and actions that are implemented to lend.

The Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, modifying the 2006 Education Act, was passed in 2013. Its implementation finished in the academic year 2016/2017.

This reform recognizes the need to combine quality and equity in the training provision. School enrolment is not enough to meet the right to education, but quality is a constituent element of that right.


Decentralization: educational competences are shared between the General State Administration (Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) and the authorities of the Autonomous Communities (Departments for Education):

  • The central education administration executes the general guidelines of the Government on education policy and regulates the basic elements or aspects of the system
  • Regional education authorities develop the State regulations and have executive and administrative competences for managing the education system in their own territory.

Schools have pedagogical, organizational and managerial autonomy for their resources. 

Participation of the education community in the schools’ organization, governance, running and evaluation.

  • Declining trend in the early school leaving rate (19.0% in 2016), although it is still far from the European average (10.7% in 2016) and the 15% objective planned in Spain for 2020 (10% in the EU)
  • Objectives of the implemented reform:
    • reduce the early school leaving rate
    • improve the educational results (rate of excellent students and rate of students holding the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate)
    • improve employability and stimulate students’ entrepreneurial spirit
    • prepare students for the exercise of citizenship, as well as for active participation in the economic, social and cultural life, with a critical and responsible attitude and capable of adapting to the changing situations of the knowledge-based society
  • Principles of the implemented reform:
    • increase in school autonomy
    • reinforcement of the management capacity of school leaders, external evaluations at the end of each stage
    • rationalisation of the educational provision
    • flexibility of pathway
    • transmission and implementation of values which promote personal freedom, responsibility, democratic citizenship, solidarity, tolerance, equality, respect and justice, as well as helping to overcome discrimination of any kind
  • Main new elements:
    • External evaluations, formative and diagnostic, at the end of the stage, and focused on the level of acquisition of skills
    • Changes in the administration and management of the education system: curriculum and distribution of competences, participation in the running and governance of public and publicly-funded private schools, school autonomy, mixed-membership governing and teaching coordination bodies, public school management and evaluation of the education system.
    • Reinforcing, at all stages, the learning of core subjects which contribute to the acquisition of key skills for the academic development of students.
    • Programme for the Improvement of Learning and Performance in Compulsory Secondary Education, basic vocational training, the anticipation of the pathways into Bachillerato and vocational training and the transformation of the current 4rd year of compulsory secondary education into a preparatory year with two different paths.
    • Bridges between the different training paths and within them, so that none of students’ decisions is irreversible.
    • Integration of Civic and Constitutional Education into all the subjects of basic education, including the acquisition of social and civic skills in the daily dynamics of teaching and learning processes.
  • Special emphasis will be placed on the following areas in order to transform the education system: information and communication technologies, promotion of multilingualism and modernisation of vocational training.

Pre-primary education is up to 6 years of age. Although it is not a compulsory education stage, the second cycle is free in all publicly-funded schools (public schools and publicly-funded private schools). Public schools providing it are called pre-primary schools and those also offering primary education are called pre-primary and primary schools.
Basic education is compulsory and free in publicly-funded schools. It lasts ten years and it is divided into two stages:

  • Primary education, provided in primary schools. It covers six academic years, usually studied between the ages of 6 and 12
  • Compulsory secondary education, studied in secondary schools, between the ages of 12 and 16. At the end of this stage, students receive the first official certificate, the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate, which allows them to have access to upper secondary education or the world of work.

Upper secondary education is also provided in secondary schools. It lasts two academic years, usually studied between the ages of 16 and 18. It offers two possibilities: Bachillerato (general branch) and intermediate vocational training (professional branch). The latter is also provided in vocational training integrated institutions and in national reference institutions.

The reforms of vocational training provision include:

  • creation of basic vocational training cycles: they can be taken by students aged 15-17, among other entry requirements that have been established.
  • development by the education authorities of dual vocational training in the education system.

Higher education comprises university and professional studies. University education is provided in universities and advanced vocational training is provided in the same institutions as those offering intermediate vocational training.

Adult education and training covers different types of provision offered by the education and employment authorities, provided by institutions from different nature. Classroom-based education leading to the award of official degrees of the education system is provided in ordinary schools or specific schools for adults. Adult education and training is aimed at people aged over 18 and, as an exception, workers aged over 16 who cannot attend school in ordinary regime or high performance athletes.

Apart from these studies, the Spanish education system offers specialised education:

  • Language education, provided at official language schools. To have access to these studies, students must be 16 years of age and, exceptionally, 14 in the case of wanting to learn a language other than the one studied in compulsory secondary education.
  • Artistic education, including elementary Music and Dance education, professional artistic education and advanced artistic education. These studies are provided in different specific schools, according to every kind and level of education.
  • Sports education, organized in intermediate and advanced training cycles and provided in the same institutions as those providing vocational training.


Source: Eurydice 2017-2018

Spanish Educational System 2

Source:  Spain Ministry of Education


The Catalan society aspires to provide the best education to the new generations, also giving educational opportunities to everyone throughout their lives. This aspiration corresponds to the collective will to make Catalonia a prosperous, well-being, cohesive country, in which all those who inhabit it can freely carry out their vital project...

Catalonia is a country with a culture and a language that make up its own identity. The Catalan educational system must allow us to awaken and strengthen our roots in Catalonia. Only from the knowledge of one's own it is possible to open up to other realities and recognize their singularities.

The Education Law explicitly regulates the rights, freedoms and obligations that correspond to all members of the educational community: students, parents, teachers and other educational professionals, the educational Administration and the local Administration, as well as the owners of the centers private. When defining these rights and obligations of the subjects of the education system, the Law establishes the limits that separate some rights from others, the criteria and principles that intervene and the precise guarantees for their correct application.

The Law also develops the organization of curricular teaching and deployment in all stages and educational modalities: infant education, primary education, compulsory secondary education, high school, vocational training, language, art and sports education and the education of adults.

On the other hand, the exclusive competences in education attributed to the Generalitat by article 131.2 of the Statute are developed: the regulation of the organs of participation and consultation of the affected sectors in the programming of education; the first cycle of early childhood education; the creation, the organizational development and the regime of public centers; the inspection, the internal evaluation of the educational system, the innovation, the educational research and experimentation and the guarantee of the quality of the educational system; the scheme for promoting study, scholarships and grants with own funds; the permanent training and improvement of teaching staff and other educational care professionals and the approval of guidelines for action in the field of human resources; educational services and complementary extra-curricular activities in relation to public educational centers and private educational centers supported by public funds, and the organizational aspects of non-classroom education aimed at students older than compulsory schooling.

Likewise, the Law explicitly regulates the questions related to the individual and family right to education, the correlative obligations of the public authorities in matters of programming of the educational system, guaranteeing the right to education and the harmonization thereof with individual rights of the students, families or tutors, the right to the creation and management of centers, the provisions for financing the system and the organization of the educational stages.

Among the priority objectives of the Law highlights the objective that the centers that provide the Education Service of Catalonia adapt their educational action to address diversity and specific educational needs, promote the inclusion of students and better adapt to their socio-economic environment .
To achieve this goal, the Law gives autonomy to schools. This measure, among others that can be adopted, has the purpose of making the system more flexible and enabling the creation of networks of schools linked by common projects committed to the systematic improvement of education. It also implies the acceptance of the diversity of centers and the rejection of uniformity as a value of the educational system.

The educational system of Catalonia includes the public educational service, understood as a service of general interest in accordance with the Statute, which must allow all centers supported by public funds, which make up public centers and private concerted centers, to work together with shared objectives from cooperation and co-responsibility, respecting the legal nature of the different institutions that provide it.


The educational system establishes the compulsory nature of the schooling of all students up to the age of 16 and is organized in stages: Early Childhood Education, Primary Education, Secondary Education (which includes Compulsory Secondary Education, Baccalaureate and Vocational Training), Higher Vocational Training and University Education.

Early Childhood Education comprises two cycles up to 6 years. Primary Education comprises three cycles between 6 and 12 years old. Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) includes two cycles between 12 and 16 years old. Catalan is the language normally used as the vehicular and learning language of the education system. The school curriculum guarantees full mastery of the official Catalan and Spanish languages upon completion of compulsory education and adequate knowledge, at least, of a foreign language that is normally English, but which in some schools is French. In many centers, it is also possible to study more than one foreign language and, in some cases, after school hours, also some languages of the new citizenship.

Catalan educational system




Source: Teaching Department, Generalitat de Catalunya

Rights and duties of students

The right to education is available to all children, regardless of the country they are and where they live. He is independent of his administrative situation and that of his relatives, even though he does not have a residence permit.

All students have, among others, the following rights:

  • Receive a formation that favors the development of his personality.
  • That their particular educational needs are taken into account.
  • That their freedom of conscience, their religious and moral convictions, their language and their culture, as well as their personal dignity, be respected.
  • Receive a school and professional orientation.

The students also have duties, among which are:

  • Participate in the training activities.
  • Respect all the members of the educational community and follow the guidelines of the teachers.
  • Attend regularly and punctually to class during the compulsory education period, which affects both boys and girls up to 16 years old.
  • Respect the facilities of the center, as well as the school equipment.
  • Respect the norms of organization, coexistence and order of the educational centrе.

Regarding the education of their children, families have the following rights:

  • That their children receive an education with the best quality guarantees, within the framework provided by law, during the period of compulsory and free education.
  • Be informed about the learning process, as well as about the socio-educational integration of their children.
  • Participate and control the management of the educational center, in the terms established by the Law.
  • Be attended and accompanied as regards the decisions regarding the academic and professional guidance of their children.

They also have the following duties:

  • Make sure that your children regularly attend school or the institute.
  • Keep a close eye on your child's work at school or high school and worry about the daily activities that are offered.
  • Inform school professionals of all the circumstances and events that teachers should know.
  • Attend the school or the institute when they are summoned to meetings or to comment on the performance of their son or daughter, or for any other matter. If possible, these interviews and meetings should be attended by both the father and the mother.
  • Help the children in the educational process, in collaboration with the teachers of the centre.
  • Promote respect for the rules established in the educational CENTRE.

Aid can be requested for expenses related to training: purchase of books and school supplies, aid for school meals and extracurricular activities. It is necessary to ask for information to the Municipal Social Services and / or to the Secretariat of the educational centre.


The school year begins in the month of September and lasts until the month of June. It is divided into three quarters.

  • The first goes from September to the Christmas holidays, which last about 15 days.
  • The second goes from January to the Easter holidays, which last about 10 days.
  • The third goes from the Easter holidays until the end of June.
  • Summer vacations are in the month of July, August, and the first week of September

last modified: Mon, 10/08/2018 - 15:23