Characteristics of the Spanish education system | BSS

Characteristics of the Spanish education system

This is how the Spanish education system is structured

The Spanish education system is structured into general schooling and specialised schooling. The first category includes pre-primary education, primary education, compulsory secondary education, the Bachillerato, vocational training and university education.

Pre-primary education

The Spanish education system offers pre-primary education from 0 to 6 years of age. It is voluntary and aims to prepare children for compulsory education. It encourages intellectual, physical, social and emotional development. There are two cycles, each lasting for three years.

Primary education

Primary education is compulsory. It is also free in public schools. Over the course of six academic years, children make continuous progress as they acquire basic cultural elements and learn skills related to spoken expression, reading and writing and numeracy. They progressively become more autonomous in their environment.

Primary education is given by teachers trained in all the areas covered at this level and also offers other subjects such as music and foreign languages, which are taught by specialised professionals.

Secondary education

At around 12 years of age, students move on to compulsory secondary education. This is also made up of two cycles, one lasting for three years and the other for just one academic year. Secondary education prepares students to step into the world of work or continue their studies, either the Bachillerato (an essential step for students that wish to go to university) or vocational training.

During secondary education, special attention is paid to providing students with educational and professional guidance.


During the two years of the Bachillerato, students receive the education they need to mature on an intellectual and personal level, as well as knowledge and skills to develop social functions and integrally transition to professional life.
Students that decide to go on to higher education are also prepared during these two years.

At the end of this stage, there is a national university admission exam that students must take to continue their studies at university. Schools prepare students to obtain excellent results in this test, and private schools generally achieve good marks.

There are three different types: the arts, science and humanities, and social sciences.

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