EDUCATION IN SPAIN
The Spanish education system is relatively decentralised. Through the Ministry
of Education, Culture and Sport (Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte,
MECD), the central government designs the legal framework regulating the
principles, objectives, and organisation of the different school levels, as well as
a proportion of the contents and subjects studied. Departments of education
from the 17 regions develop and manage their education systems based on
these guidelines. Other bodies also shape education policy:
The Spanish education system is made up of:
● Early Childhood:
It is organized into two cycles : the first comprises up to 3-year-olds ; the
second , which is free, goes from 3 to 6-year-olds.Today nearly 100 % of 3-
year-olds attend primary school, where early education is provided in infant
Primary education is compulsory and free. It is organized in 3 cycles of two
years each. It is for pupils aged between 6 and 12 years old.
● Secondary (ESO):
The compulsory stage of secondary education is normally referred to by its
initials: ESO (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria).
It is a free and compulsory education stage to complete basic education. It
consists of four years. It is for pupils aged between 12 and 16 years old.
However, pupils can retake two different years of this stage so they can finish
it when they are 18 years old.
All pupils have to study the three first years of this stage. Then they can
choose between the 4th year of secondary and take a series of exams called
the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) at the end of that year, or 2
years of basic vocational training which leads to get a Certificate of Basic
Vocational Training. If these pupils want to get the CSE, they have to take the
same exams as the pupils who opted for the 4th year of secondary.
● Post Compulsory Secondary Education:
Successful students who are awarded the CSE can enter the post-compulsory
stage of Schooling, either Baccalaureate ( Bachillerato) or Intermediate
This post-16 stage of education lasts 2 years. There are two parts, a core
curriculum with the compulsory subjects, and a specialist part with a few pre-
selected branches to choose from.Once students have finished their
Baccalaureate, they can take their University Entrance Exam (Pruebas de
Acceso a la Universidad, popularly called Selectividad) which differs greatly
from region to region.
➢ Intermediate Vocational Training
Intermediate training cycles lead to the Technician Certificate for the
● Higher education
The normal duration for University courses is 4 years, except Medicine, which
is 6 years. The universities regulate access to their own degrees and they fix
the academic fees. They can also offer unofficial postgraduate degrees.
Postgraduate courses are Master's degrees (Máster), and Doctoral degrees
(Doctorado). Access is regulated by the university itself, through the Doctorate
Commission. It is necessary to have the degree course, architecture or
➢ Advanced Vocational Training
It has the Spanish Baccalaureate as the principal requirement. It leads to the
Advanced Technician Certificate. After completing this cycle, students are
entitled to direct entrance to several related University.
MINISTERIO DE EDUCACIÓN, CULTURA Y DEPORTE (2015). Facts and Figures school year 2014-2015.
2014 NIPO 030-14-187-1. Madrid. Imprenta Nacional de la AEBOE