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Spanish educational system

Spain educational system

Stages of the education system

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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 cover 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, including the teaching and learning of different languages at levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). These studies are provided at official language schools.
  • 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, organised in intermediate and advanced training cycles and provided in the same institutions as those providing vocational training
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