Spain background information


How the official decision of special educational needs (SEN) in the country relates to the agreed EASIE operational definition

Operational definition

An official decision leads to a child/learner being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.

Criteria for an official decision of SEN

  • There has been an educational assessment procedure involving a multi-disciplinary team
  • The multi-disciplinary team includes members from within and external to the child’s/learner’s (pre)school
  • There is a legal document which describes the support the child/learner is eligible to receive and which is used as the basis for planning
  • The official decision is subject to a formal, regular review process

Educational assessment procedure in the country

The educational assessment procedure involves:

  1. prior parental consent;
  2. an assessment of the child’s/learner’s educational needs by a multi-disciplinary team;
  3. a recommendation from the school inspectorate with the pedagogical and curricular intervention and support needed, based on the above guidelines.

How the multi-disciplinary team is comprised in the country

The team comprises education staff external (ISCED 02, 1, 2 and 3) or internal (ISCED 2 and 3) to the child’s/learner’s school: the class teacher, school counsellors, psychologists, pedagogues, school teachers specialised in special needs education (SNE) and/or school teachers specialised in speech and language.

The legal document used in the country to outline the support that the child/learner is eligible to receive

This is an official report which describes the child’s/learner’s educational needs and sets out educational recommendations and guidelines.

How the document is used as the basis for planning in the country

The class teacher and the school counsellor share the official report with the rest of the team, teachers and school teachers specialised in SNE and/or speech and language, depending on the need described. The team members design the necessary actions based on the report’s recommendations. The actions may range from ordinary to extraordinary.

The formal, regular review process in the country

The assessment of the children/learners depends on their characteristics. Therefore, the assessment criteria are modified to fit with the adjustments carried out in the education objectives and contents established in the educational recommendations and guidelines. All professionals involved in the educational assessment procedure take part in the formal, regular review process.


Proxy indicator for the 80% benchmark used for the country’s data collection

The EASIE work uses an 80% benchmark of inclusive education. This is defined as:

An inclusive setting refers to education where the child/learner with SEN follows education in mainstream classes alongside their mainstream peers for most – 80% or more – of the school week.

Proxy indicator used

Placement in a mainstream class implies over 80% or more.

Details on what the country proxy is

It consists of children/learners enrolled in a mainstream class.

Why this proxy was used

According to the regulations, this schooling is inclusive. One of the main principles of the Spanish education system is respect for diversity. This principle is essential and it must underpin the whole education system, with the aim of providing all children/learners with an education that is adapted to their characteristics and needs.

Therefore, the focus is not only on children/learners with different needs, but on all children/learners. The educational authorities ensure the resources required so that children/learners who need education services other than the ordinary may, as far as possible, develop their personal capabilities and work towards the objectives generally established for all children/learners.

Difficulties in using the proxy

In some cases, such as autism spectrum disorders, integration is gradual and eventually reaches 100%, which is the objective of the law. However, this situation is not considered statistically significant.

Specific country issues in applying the proxy indicator

Spain has a dual placement system: children/learners can attend a combined inclusion form, attending a mainstream school and a separate special school. It depends on their educational needs and their progression.


Detailed description of what ‘out of formal education’ means within the country

The 2011 International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) defines ‘formal education’ as follows:

[…] education that is institutionalised, intentional and planned through public organizations and recognised private bodies and, – in their totality – constitute the formal education system of a country. Formal education programmes are thus recognised as such by the relevant national education or equivalent authorities, e.g. any other institution in cooperation with the national or sub-national educational authorities. Formal education consists mostly of initial education […] Vocational education, special needs education and some parts of adult education are often recognised as being part of the formal education system. Qualifications from formal education are by definition recognised and, therefore, are within the scope of ISCED. Institutionalised education occurs when an organization provides structured educational arrangements, such as student-teacher relationships and/or interactions, that are specially designed for education and learning.

(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011, International Standard Classification of Education ISCED 2011, p. 11).

Do the country definitions of formal, non-formal and informal education differ from the ISCED definitions?

No, Spain uses the same definitions as ISCED.

How specific cases – such as home-educated children/learners – are considered

Home-education is only permitted in exceptional and temporary circumstances for health reasons. It can be carried out at home or in hospital.

Children/learners who are considered out of formal education (meaning those not in formal education as defined by ISCED)

There are no children/learners out of formal education.

How the population of children/learners who are out of formal education is defined

There is no possibility of educational provision outside of schools, as the entire school-age population must be enrolled in a school during the compulsory stages of education. After these stages, young people can choose to:

  • join the labour market;
  • continue their studies in non-compulsory education in a school or through distance learning;
  • take courses or training offered by the employment services, trade unions or private institutions or organisations.


Provision of data on private sector education

The data collection covers all sectors of education, including numbers for the child/learner population in the private sector.

Private sector education in the country

According to the UNESCO-UIS/OECD/Eurostat (UOE) methodology, institutions are considered to be private if a non-governmental organisation controls and manages them. Private institutions are further classified as either government-dependent private institutions, if they are mostly financed by public sources, or as independent private institutions if not.

Child/learner population counted for each relevant question

Both public and private institutions are included.

Specific issues with providing data on private sector education and how these have been overcome in the data collection

There have not been any problems with the data collection. Information is collected within the general process of statistics on education.


ISCED level age ranges

The following are the most common (pre)school entrance ages and (pre)school leaving ages for the different ISCED levels:

Age range in the country at ISCED level 02 (pre-primary): 3 to 5

Age range in the country at ISCED level 1: 6 to 11

Age range in the country at ISCED level 2: 12 to 14

Age range in the country at ISCED level 3: 15 to 17



Additional remarks, comments or explanations on the country background information

This information has been prepared jointly with the Spanish unit that co-operates with the Agency, the Centro Nacional de Innovación e Investigación Educativa (CNIIE – National Centre for Innovation and Educational Research).


2012/2013 and 2014/2015 data background information

This country updated its background information for the 2014/2015 and 2016/2017 datasets. PDFs of the background information for the 2012/2013 dataset and the 2014/2015 dataset are available.

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