Spanish Schools & Education

Spanish Schools & Education

Planning on moving to Spain with the family? Then you´ll need to know a little on how the school system works. An important consideration when buying is Spain is to know where the schools are and which one to choose. Children in Spain tend to start pre-school from the age of 3 but in some areas as young as 2. The compulsory ages for school are from 6 to 16 years of age and there are three categories:State schools (colegios públicos)Privately-run schools funded by the state (colegios concertados)Purely private schools (colegios privados)The free state schools can be an good option for most families but you may decide that investing in a semi-private or private school your child could benefit from smaller classes and access to a wider range of facilities. The international schools can offer students the option of classes taught in English and Spanish as well as follow the UK curriculum to obtain their GCSE and A-Level qualifications.School Terms are divided into 3 terms or trimesters with a long break over the summer of nearly three months. The Winter Term spans from September to December; the Spring Term spans from January to Easter, and then the last term from Easter to the end of June. There is a two week holiday for the Christmas period and a week for Easter (Semana Santa) with national and regional bank holidays also being observed.The system of education can be broken down into 5 stages.Pre-school (Early years or Infant school)Primary school (Primary or First & Middle school)Complusory secondary education (Secondary or High School)Post-compulsory secondary education (Further Education or College)Tertiary education (Higher Education or University)


Pre-school (Educación Infantil or Preescolar) is non-compulsory

and for children of 3 to 6 years old. They are typically located next to a

Primary school but can also be a separate nursery school known as a Colegio

Infantile. They are seen as an important step for developing social skills and

prepare them academically for the next stage.


Primary school (Educación Primaria or Colegio) starts 6 years of

the compulsory 10 year period of education. It is subdivided into three stages:

First Cycle (6 to 8 years old)

Second Cycle (8 to 10 years old)

Third Cycle (10 to 12 years old)

The curriculum is pre-determined by the national and regional

standards, starting from the basic academic skills like reading and writing, to

subject matter that will prepare them for the secondary school.


Compulsory secondary education (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria or ESO) covers the last 4 years of compulsory schooling. Students from 12 to 16 will have a set curriculum but they may also choose to focus on academic subjects with aims of leading onto further education or vocational studies. Upon completion of the ESO, the student will be awarded a Certificate of Completion of Secondary Education (Titulo de Graduado en Educación Secundaria).


Once students have completed the compulsory secondary education

they essentially have three options: 

Leave school. 

Study for a Spanish Baccalaureate or Bachillerato (for students pursuing

university education or higher vocational studies). 

Vocational courses - a program known as Ciclo Formativo. Often offered at

the same school at which they earned their ESO certificate.


Spanish Baccalaureate (Bachillerato Education) is a 2 year

course which is comparable to the A-Levels in the UK. It is divided into two

main parts, a core curriculum which all students must take, and a specialist


In the core curriculum students must study:

Spanish Language and Literature:  2 years

Co-Official language of Spain (Valencian, Catalan, Basque):  2 years 

First foreign language (English, French, German or Italian; usually

English):  2 Years 

Philosophy:  2 years 

Physical Education:  1 year only 

Spanish history:  2 years 

Science to the contemporary world:  1 year only 

Optional subject (2 foreign language, psychology, informational

technology):  2 years 

Catholic studies/World religious studies:  Optional in the 1 year only

Specialist components include Art, Mathematics, Biology,

Chemistry, Science & Engineering, Information & Communication

Technologies, Economics, Geography and History amongst others.

Once the student passes the Bachillerato program, they become eligible

to sit for the University Entrance Exam (Pruebas de acceso a la Universidad or

Selectividad) which differs between regions. They are also eligible to enter

the Superior-level Training Cycles for vocational training (Ciclos Formativos

de grado Superior) for which the Spanish Baccalaureate is the principal

requirement. After completing this level of vocational training, they can enter

the workforce or continue their training in a number of related University

degree programs.


Vocational Training is open to students who complete their ESO

education and wish to pursue vocational education rather than a Baccalaureate.

They can remain in school and enter the Middle Grade Vocational Training Cycles

(Ciclos Formativos de Grado Medio) for typically 2 years. Successful completion

of this training can lead to gainful employment in a variety of trades and



Higher Education is available in 76 universities across the

country, a majority of which are supported by state funding. Admission is

determined by the cut-off grade (nota de corte) that is achieved at the close

of the two-year Bachillerato. A number between 1 and 10, called the cut-off

grade, is a combination of the grade achieved from the Bachillerato exams and

the average grade obtained from the university selection exam. The most popular

courses demand the highest cut-off grade. At private universities the cost is

the only determining factor with the most popular courses costing the most


The higher education system in Spain has aligned itself with the

provisions laid out in the Bologna Process which aims to facilitate student

transfer at universities throughout Europe. Under this new system, university

courses now have “ECTS” credits, and students will normally take 60 of these

credits each year.

The Spanish university degree structure is as follows:

Bachelor Program: 3 year program (180 credits)

Master’s Degree: 2 year program (120 credits)

It is important to know that after completing the Bachelor

degree students are not awarded a degree. They will instead be promoted to the

Master´s program for the final two years of studies. Certain courses do,

however, allow students who are not interested in a Master´s level degree, to

pursue a 4 year study program that leads to an undergraduate degree.

Students who want to obtain a doctorate-level or PhD degree, as

well as more advanced degrees in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, etc. typically

span an additional 3 to 7 years depending on the area of study.


All colegios educacion primaria (first and middle schools) are from 6 to 12 years old. Then then will go to Instituto (secondary school) 12 to 16 years. Gran Alacant has a an infant school for 3 to 6 year olds, and a first and middle school 6-12 years called Colegio Publico Doña Vicenta Ruso. From then then will normally go on to a secondary school in Santa Pola.