Education in Spain
10 May 2019 | by Aysun Tekçe

Education in Spain

Life in Spain

Education is compulsory for all the children aged between 6-16 years old in Spain. In general, educational standards are higher than most European Countries. Considering the standards and availability, every kid has a chance to have a proper education.

Pre-School (0-6 years)

Pre-school education, which is the best way to adapt the kids to Spanish language and culture, has two stages for 0-3 years old and 3-6 years old.

The first stage (0-3 years) is not financed by the state. You may find state nurseries but there always will be a fee.

For the second stage (3-6 years) mostly the pre-schools are attached to a primary school. These can be state schools and free or private schools.

Compulsory Education (6-16 years)

For all the Spanish resident children, compulsory education has two stages:

Primary School (Educación Primaria) for kids from 6 to 12 years old.

Compulsory Secondary School (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria – ESO) for the kids from 12 to 16 years old.

Children have to pass the final exams at the end of the school year to continue with the next year. Otherwise they have to repeat the class. For Primary and Secondary Education, you can find different options according to your needs.

Public Schools

Spanish state education is open for all residents and EU citizens and free of charge from pre-school to 18 years old. For some schools you may be asked for the payment for books, stationary and extracurricular activities. Entrance to state schools is based on residential address. So, if you are planning to enroll your kid to a public school, it would be good to consider the school options when deciding where to live. State is obliged to place the child to a school within his residential area. For that, after you register your address on Municipality of your residential area, you can apply for enrollment through a school of your choice and also mention your other school options. There are limits for numbers of students in one class (mostly 25), so the regional responsible makes the allocation also considering this number. As the education of children is seen as one of the principal duty of state, the management also supports the adaptation of new kids. For some autonomous regions (Catalonia, Galicia, Valencia or Basque) the main or secondary education language can be different than the Spanish (Castillian), so this also has to be taken account when choosing a school.

Private Schools

In Spain, 30% of children attends to a private school. There 3 types of private schools and fees can be different according to the school or area.

  • Private Schools: Education can be totally in a foreign language like English, French etc. or bilingual (i.e. 50% English – 50%Spanish) and they follow the Spanish curriculum.

  • Semi Private Schools (Concerdato): These are the schools founded as private schools but then supported by the State. Usually the 50% of fee is financed by the family and 50% by the State. The important thing here is that this financial support can come from the State or the church which defines if the school is Laic or religious (Catholic).

  • International Schools: These schools follow the curriculum of the chosen country (mostly British curriculum) and in their language. In this type of schools, the class that your child will attend can be different than the Spanish educational system. There are also international schools following German, French even Norway or Sweden curriculums. Especially in the coastal regions of Spain (Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca, Costa Brava) the multinational residential nature brings also diversity to education. This option is mostly appropriate for people who are not planning to live in Spain in long term or who plans to leave to another country for higher education.

Non-Compulsory Education (16-18 years)

The kids that complete the compulsory education would have two options.

Baccalaureate (Bachillerato) education for 2 years to get prepared for the higher education and university entrance exams, or,

Vocational Courses to meet needs in different business lines.


To be able to apply for university, students should pass the entrance exam “Selectividad” at last year of secondary education. University education is for 4 years. At the end of this period they get their license or diploma regarding their subject of study. They can go on with the higher education for Master’s Degree or Doctorate.

Spanish universities are among the respected ones in Europe and offer a good educational quality. Fees for the state universities are around 1.000 – 3.000 Euros. For the private universities, fee can be different according to the faculty and are around 6.000 – 12.000 Euros.

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