Country information for Spain - Teacher education for inclusive education

Initial teacher education

Initial teacher education underwent profound changes as a result of the gradual adaptation of the university system to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). All degrees are now adapted to the EHEA.

The academic qualifications required to teach are uniform throughout the entire nation, although they do vary according to the various levels of the education system. In public-sector institutions, teaching staff in higher education, as well as those in lower levels, generally have permanent civil servant status. In public education, first-year teachers in a public school work under the tutelage of experienced teachers. The tutor and trainee teacher share responsibility for the trainee’s teaching plan.

Three types of teachers can be distinguished, according to the education level in which they teach: teaching staff in infant and primary education, in secondary education, and in higher education.

Pre-primary and primary education teaching staff

Teaching in infant education and in primary education requires a teacher certificate in the corresponding speciality, which is a four-years university degree with one of the following specialities: infant education, primary education, music, physical education, foreign language, special education or speech therapy.

The Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education (LOMCE) states that teachers in primary education can teach in all areas of knowledge in this educational stage and in learners’ tutorials. However, they can attain one of the following specialities: infant education, primary education, music, physical education, foreign language, special education and speech therapy. The study programme focuses on both academic and theoretical aspects and on pedagogical practice. The basic training on special education for all learners is one core subject and the specific training for the specialist is much wider.

In addition to holders of primary education degrees, other professionals who have undergone vocational training in nursery school or infant education are allowed to participate in the first cycle of infant education.

For the care of pupils with special educational needs, the education system offers teachers help through specialists in special education, speech therapy and qualified professionals.

Secondary education teaching staff

Teaching at secondary level requires a postgraduate qualification. In addition, it is necessary to have a professional certificate of pedagogical specialisation obtained through doing a course on pedagogical qualification or a master’s degree in education.

Higher education teaching staff

Initial training for higher education teaching staff primarily takes place in university establishments or institutions for first-, second- or third-cycle studies.

Senior lecturers are university lecturers with the status of civil servants who gain access through the corresponding competitive examination. Their main tasks are teaching and research. Senior lecturers in universities hold a doctorate degree, while senior lecturers in ‘university schools’ hold a bachelor’s, architecture or engineering degree. These degrees are to be phased out. The latter group was abolished by the 2007 Organic Act Modifying the Act on Universities, which established that these professionals may gain access to the group of university senior lecturers by means of a doctorate degree.

Senior teachers are lecturers who have acquired the maximum professional qualification in university and non-university education and in specialised education (languages education, sports education and arts education: music, dance, drama, preservation and restoration of cultural heritage, plastic arts and design, etc.). They have the status of civil servant.

There are three bodies of senior teachers:

  • Senior teacher of secondary education, music and drama education, official language school education, and plastic arts and design studies: this professional holds a doctorate or bachelor’s degree and has at least eight years’ experience as a civil servant teacher.
  • University senior teacher: this professional is a senior teacher at a different university, a senior lecturer at a university, or a senior teacher at a ‘university school’; the latter two must have three years’ experience and a doctorate degree. Those holding a doctorate degree, with a minimum of eight years’ experience, are exempt from fulfilling these requirements.
  • ‘University school’ senior teachers: this professional holds a doctorate degree. This group was abolished by the 2007 Organic Act Modifying the Act on Universities. However, they have the possibility of being integrated into the group of university senior lecturers, remaining in their current situation or applying for the necessary accreditation to gain access to the group of university senior teachers.

In-service training

In-service training constitutes a right and a duty for teachers of non-university education. Every year the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, through the National Institute for Education Technologies and Teacher Training (INTEF), establishes the priority lines to which the teachers’ continuous professional development plans must adapt. It also offers state continuous professional development programmes and establishes the pertinent agreements with other institutions to this end.

In addition, the LOMCE establishes a series of guidelines that must be respected by the continuous professional development programmes offered by the education authorities responsible for planning and organising them in their jurisdiction. They must provide teachers with a diversified range of activities and meet their training needs, as well as establishing other training priority guidelines.

The education administrations provide a varied range of free training activities and take the necessary measures to foster teacher participation in these activities. Furthermore, they facilitate teacher access to qualifications which allow mobility between the different teaching areas, including universities, through appropriate agreements with the universities.

The education administrations have also reached agreements with universities and other organisations, such as associations of people with disabilities and professional associations. These agreements allow them to recognise the training these organisations provide to teachers.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, in collaboration with the autonomous communities, fosters the international mobility of teachers, teacher exchanges and visits to other countries.

The in-service programmes adapt knowledge and teaching methods to scientific progress and to specific didactics, as well as to all those aspects of co-ordination, guidance, tutoring, attention to diversity and organisation aimed at improving the quality of education and the functioning of schools. In addition, there must be specific training on the subject of equality under the terms established by the Act on Integrated Protective Measures against Gender Violence.

The LOMCE states that education administrations must foster foreign language learning and use of information and communication technologies by all teachers, regardless of their specialisation, by providing specific training programmes in these fields. They will also be responsible for encouraging research and innovation programmes.

As for university teachers, the universities themselves are in charge of organising continuous professional development activities, which are elective but necessary for receiving some specific additional remuneration.


Last updated 08/04/2020

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