The Spanish school system, an introduction if you want to live in Spain

If you are planning to move to Spain with your children, here’s a short introduction to the Spanish school system.

Schools in Spain are not similar to other countries and education is compulsory between the age of 6-16. Schools in Spain are free and supported by the Spanish national government unless parents choose private schooling.

The schooling system hierarchy is as follows:

  • Nursery School (Ages 3 months to 3 years)
  • Preschool (Ages 3 years to 6 years)
  • Primary School (Ages 6 years to 11 years)
  • Secondary School (Ages 12 years – 16 years)
  • Higher Secondary Education/Baccalaureate (Ages 16 – 18)
  • University (Ages 18 – 24+)

Spain’s public schools have improved considerably in past years and the qualifications gained are valid if your child wants to study at a university elsewhere.

The school year will vary from one region to another and will also be affected by what a child is studying, their level, and their particular school. In Spain, the school year generally starts in mid-September and runs through to mid-June. There are three terms of roughly 11 weeks.

School system in Spain

Spanish school holidays?

Spain has the longest school holidays of anywhere in Europe. Half terms do not really exist, though compensation is in the numerous local festival days and non-teaching days that give children and teachers more breaks in the school year.

There are usually two weeks of holiday over Christmas, two weeks over Easter, and a long summer holiday of around 10–11 weeks. Children moving up from primary to secondary school will sometimes get an extra week or two of the summer holiday, which may even include an end-of-school trip abroad.

Holiday in Spain

Teaching in Spain?

Another important thing to note is that the schools won’t be bilingual. Your child will be completely taught in Spanish (or a regional language), with the exception of an English class as a second language for a few hours a week.

There are also many varieties of Spanish private schools, including those which teach entirely in Spanish. Others are bilingual schools or independent international schools which place a strong focus on English or another native language.

schools in spain