Country information for Spain - Legislation and policy
LOMLOE: New education law pending approval 2020
The legislative framework governing and guiding the Spanish education system is changing. Currently there is a new draft Organic Educational Law: LOMLOE (Organic Act of Modification of the LOE) that was approved by the Government on March 4 2020 in the Council of Ministers. This law will reverse the current LOMCE legislation.
The LOMLOE law is a complete overhaul of the education system. It addresses early drop‑out, grade repetition and school segregation. It introduces several changes related to diversity and inclusion:
- Universal design for learning (UDL) is established as a basic principle of education with the aim of promoting school inclusion.
- The ‘specific culture of children’, as established by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, is respected at the early childhood stage. Pedagogy is reinforced in the first cycle (0–3 years) and schools must prepare a pedagogical proposal.
- Early detection of and intervention for learning difficulties are important. Schools must prepare reinforcement plans to improve the level of competence of the learners who need it (which will be further regulated by the autonomous communities or local authorities).
- Measures to lower the high repetition rate include:
- Primary education (6–12 years) will be organised in cycles of two school years. This favours greater adaptation to learning rhythms, as the objectives can be achieved during a cycle. In addition, it will only be possible to repeat at the end of each cycle (second, fourth and sixth years of primary education).
- In secondary education (ESO) (12–16 years) the decision to repeat a year will be made scholastically. Learners who fail more than two subjects may still pass a course if the teaching team considers that they will be able to successfully follow the next course.
- Decisions regarding repetition must be accompanied by a specific individualised plan. This must include the educational measures necessary to ensure the learner overcomes their difficulties during the repeated year.
- Subjects can be integrated by areas during the first three courses of compulsory secondary education to give better attention to diversity.
- The new law eliminated the Improvement of Learning and Performance (PMAR) programmes – which allowed the division of learners into itineraries in the second and third years. The new law recovers the curricular diversification programmes of 2006. These allow modification and adaptation of the curriculum in third and fourth years for learners with ‘relevant learning difficulties’, and lead to a degree. The new law also eliminates the differentiated itineraries in the fourth year of secondary education and establishes only different optional subjects of a guiding nature.
- The new law maintains the Basic Vocational Training (FPB) programmes which learners can access at the age of 15, after completing the third year of ESO or, exceptionally, after the second year. It modifies the evaluation and qualification criteria to facilitate obtaining the qualification: success in all areas in a basic degree cycle will lead to the Compulsory Secondary Education (CSE) certificate. It is a second chance for those learners who did not get their CSE certificate.
- The new law enables prolonging school for three years – instead of the usual two courses – in upper-secondary education (16–18 years). Exceptionally, this can also lead to the ‘Bachillerato’ certificate with a failed subject.
- University entrance tests will be carried out taking all necessary steps to ensure non-discrimination of students with specific educational support needs and universal accessibility for people with disabilities.
- The law eliminates the revalidation of 6th primary and 4th ESO. Diagnostic tests will be carried out in the fourth year of primary and the second year of ESO, prohibiting the publication of the test results to avoid school rankings.
- The schooling of learners with special educational needs should preferably be provided in mainstream schools, adapting programmes to each learner. Schooling in special schools will only take place when learners’ needs cannot be met in mainstream schools.
- Special educational establishments aim to progressively become open educational resource centres for the professionals working in the local mainstream schools.
- The evaluation of learners with disabilities is changed in the new law. They are currently evaluated with the mandatory assessment criteria of the year in which they are enrolled. This makes it impossible to pass a course or qualify in secondary school. The new law establishes that learners with special educational needs will be evaluated regarding the objectives and content modifications made through individualised curricular adaptations. This makes it possible for these learners to pass and qualify.
- The law also announces that special arrangements will be taken to adapt assessments to the needs of learners with specific or educational support needs
LOMCE, 2013: Current education law
The legislative framework governing and guiding the Spanish education system comprises the Spanish Constitution (1978), the Organic Act on the Right to Education (LODE, 1978), the Organic Act on Education (LOE, 2006) and the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education 8/2013 of 9 December (LOMCE, 2013) which develops the principles and rights established in it.
The Spanish Constitution recognises the right to education as one of the essential rights that public powers must guarantee to every citizen.
The LOMCE offers (at national level) the legal framework to provide and assure the right to education. The autonomous communities can regulate the adaptation of this Act to their territories.
The Spanish education system, set up in accordance with the values of the Constitution and based on respect for the rights and liberties recognised therein, is inspired by the following principles:
(a) Quality education for all learners, regardless of their condition and circumstances.
(b) Equity that guarantees equal opportunities for full personal development through education, inclusion, rights and equality of opportunities that helps to overcome any kind of discrimination and universal access to education that acts as a compensating factor for personal, cultural, economic and social inequalities, with special emphasis on those derived from disabilities.
(c) The transmission and application of values that favour personal liberty, responsibility, democratic citizenship, solidarity, tolerance, equality, respect and justice and that also help to overcome any type of discrimination (Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education 8/2013 of 9 December. Preliminary Title, Chapter I: Principles and Aims of Education, Article 1: Principles).
The state is responsible for education and for offering all pupils free compulsory education from 4 to 16 years of age. The stage from 4 to 6 is not compulsory, while education is compulsory from 6 to 16 years of age. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport is responsible for central administration.
Schools are classified as public schools, private schools and publicly-funded private schools. Public schools are those owned by a public administration. Private schools are those owned by a private person or legal entity. Publicly-funded private schools are private schools which are under the system of legally-established agreements. The provision of the public education service is carried out in public and publicly-funded private schools. Schools have pedagogic, organisational and management autonomy within the current legislation. They have the autonomy to draw up, approve and execute an education project and a management project, as well as their organisational and running procedures.
Provisions for learners with special educational needs are governed by principles of normalisation and inclusion and ensure non-discrimination and real equality in access to the education system and continued attendance, allowing flexibility in the different stages of their education when necessary. The schooling of these learners in special schools or units, which may be extended to the age of 21, will only take place when their needs cannot be met by the special needs provisions available in mainstream schools.
Royal Decree 696/1995, of 28 April (updated with Royal Decree 1/2013, of 29 November, chapter IV), arranges the education of pupils with special educational needs and establishes the conditions for educational provision for this population. These pupils are educated in mainstream schools and with mainstream curricula; only when it is objectively established that the needs of these pupils cannot be properly met in a mainstream school, is it proposed that they be educated in special schools.
The different stages constituting the Spanish education system are outlined below.
Pre-primary education (0–6 years)
It is organised into two cycles of three years each. The first cycle (0–3 years) is voluntary for families and aims to give educational assistance and attention to early childhood education.
The second cycle (3–6 years) is voluntary, free and constitutes the first level of school education. Even though it is voluntary, educational authorities are obliged to offer enough places at this level. If there are not enough public places, they must reach agreements with private schools to offer them.
Basic, compulsory free education comprises primary education and compulsory secondary education, for learners aged 6 to 16 years. It lasts for ten years and is divided into two educational levels:
- Primary education (6–12 years) comprises six academic years.
- Compulsory secondary education (12–16 years) comprises four academic years organised into two cycles. The first comprises three academic years and the second, one academic year. Upon passing these two cycles, the pupils receive the Compulsory Secondary Education (CSE) Certificate.
General upper-secondary education level (Bachillerato)
This is a two-year non-compulsory education level, which complements compulsory secondary education. The CSE Certificate is a prerequisite for entering Bachillerato. The theoretical ages for commencement and completion are 16 and 18, respectively.
This is a non-compulsory education level. It prepares pupils to work in a specific professional field by providing them with an all-round and practical education that enables them to adapt to the changes to their trade, which may take place during their working lives.
There are three levels of specific vocational training:
- Basic Vocational Training: It is a second chance for those students who did not get their CSE certificate;
- Intermediate Vocational Training: learners must have at least the CSE certificate to access this;
- Advanced Vocational Training: learners must have at least the Bachillerato certificate to access this.
Last updated 08/04/2020