Skip to main content
Living in EuropeDay care, schooling & family related issuesSpain

Spanish Education System


The Spanish education system offers the following types of education: Infant Education, Primary Education, Compulsory Secondary Education, High School, Vocational Training, Language Studies, Art Studies, Sport Studies, Adult Education, and University Education.

Infant school education (from zero to six years) is not compulsory and includes two stages: the first from zero to three years old; and the second from three to six years old. The vast majority of children start their schooling in the second cycle (between the age of three and six years), which is free of charge in public schools and government-assisted private schools.

At this stage, the schools must adopt the relevant measures for students with special educational requirements.

​The Primary Education and the Compulsory Secondary Education form part of the basic education which is free in public schools and government-assisted private schools, and compulsory for everyone. The two stages cover ten years of schooling and are normally carried out between the ages of six and sixteen, the minimum legal working age, although the student has the right to remain in the ordinary regime following the basic education system until the age of eighteen in a number of different circumstances: remaining for more than one year in the same school year, joining the Spanish education system at a later age or coming from an education system in another country.

Learn more about Infant and Primary Education

Secondary education is divided into Compulsory Secondary Education and Further Secondary Education. The latter includes the Baccalaureate, Intermediate Vocational Training, Intermediate professional training in Fine Arts and Design and Intermediate Sports Training.

Learn more about Secondary Education

University Education, Higher Arts Education, Higher Level Vocational Training make up the higher education stage.

Learn more about Higher Education

Lastly, language classes, art and sport education are considered as special education systems.

Learn more about Special education system

In addition, in Spain, the Autonomous Regions have extensive powers for the development and implementation of the basic national legislation on education, and are able to establish or supplement certain curricular elements depending on the type of subject (content, assessment criteria, assessable learning criteria, etc.), establish their own subjects ("freely definable at regional level"; including, the co-official language and literature in those Autonomous Regions with a co-official language), establish school hours within the limits established under the basic national legislation, etc. In addition, the authority of the Autonomous Regions as regards education covers many areas relating to the creation of education centres, the offer of places and the acceptance of students, the provision of resources, training of teachers, and attention for students with special educational needs, etc.

Educational centres in the autonomous regions of Ceuta and Melilla and Spanish education centres abroad are managed directly by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

Additional information