The Spanish School System


Even though the Spanish school system is not ranked high in Europe, it still offers valuable, great opportunities for students. One of the clear advantages of Spanish schooling is a variety of options for kids’ schooling. Unlike Germany, for instance, home schooling is not illegal in Spain.

Compulsory schooling in Spain starts from the age 6, when children enroll in a primary school. There, they study up to the age of 12 and then starts the phase of compulsory secondary education, known as educación secundaría obligatoría in Spanish. At the age of 16, compulsory schooling ends and children are free to abandon the classes. However, the absolute majority of children enroll in Bachillerato, where they study for 2 years and prepare to enroll in universities. Upon the completion of Bachillerato, they should pass the exams they need for enrolling in university.

Primary schooling is divided into three two-year cycles, namely:

  • Primer cicio (from 6 to 8 years old);
  • Segundo cicio (from 8 to 10 years old);
  • Tercer cicio (from 10 to 12 years old).

During their studying in primary schools, they study such subjects like Spanish literature, Spanish language, biology, geography, history, math, arts, and one or two foreign languages. At the third year of studying in primary school, children start to get assessed by the teachers. The marks they can receive are the following: SB (sobresaliente; outstanding), NT (notable; very good), BI (bien; very good), SU (suficiente; sufficient), and IN (insuficiente; insufficient).

In case if certain pupils didn’t receive satisfactory marks, there are two options for them: either to attend the school during their holidays in order to catch up, or repeat the entire cycle.

school system in Spain

Internationals schools in Spain allow the children of expats to study in their native language

Likewise, the secondary education in Spain consists of two-year cycles: from 12 to 14 years old and from 14 to 16 years old. In addition to the previous subjects, students can choose some optional subjects that include religious education, visual arts, plastic arts, technology, social science, music, natural studies, moral studies, and a second foreign language. At the end, students are also assessed the way described above and, if the level of their knowledge is sufficient, they receive Certificates of Secondary Education Graduates, which allows them to enroll in Bachillerato.

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Within the Spanish school system, students must enroll and study two years at Bachillerato. There, students master core subjects (history, foreign languages, Spanish language), yet they should master also one particular area: arts or humanities, social science, science and engineering, natural and health science. After completing Bachillerato, students will be able to pick and pass Selectivos – the exams they need for enrolling in a university.

Types of school in Spain

In the Spanish school system, there are three types of schools: schools that are privately run and privately funded, private schools that are partially or completely funded by the state, and public schools. Parents tend to let their children study in private schools that are funded by the state – tuition fees there are lower than in completely private schools.

There are also schools for children with special needs, schools with a strong emphasis on foreign language learning, and international schools. A lot of parents who come to Spain not for a long period tend to give their children to international schools, where children can learn in their native language. Class sizes at international schools are also smaller.

Home schooling is not forbidden in Spain either. If you are pondering about letting your children study at home, it is recommended to consult Asociación para la Libre Educación.


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