School lunch may be available, although some children bring a packed lunch or children return home. Lunch is considered the main meal of the Spanish day, and if your children eat the school lunch they will be encouraged to eat the substantial meal alongside other children. In cities, the school day can end at 2pm, with only a short lunch break or no break at all. Some schools may also opt to open half days in September and June.
Schools in large cities may have school activities before and after school. Secondary school hours tend to be longer, with some schools starting around 8—8. In some cases, secondary schools might not provide supervision during the lunch break, and your child will either need to return home, or you will need to collect them.
Older pupils can expect homework most nights. This exceeds guidelines in Madrid, however, which advise that five-year-olds year one should receive 10 minutes of homework per day, increased by 10 minutes each year thereafter.
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It is divided into two stages. The first stage is nursery school guarderia , which takes children from around three months up to three years old, but it is not covered by the state. The second stage is preschool escuela infantil which takes children from three to six years old. Preschools are often attached to state primary schools and are free.
Most children attend the three years of preschool education and develop their physical and mental skills. Emphasis is placed on learning about various aspects of different cultures, the environment and road awareness skills. Nurseries and preschools are an excellent and easy way to introduce foreign children to the Spanish language and culture. For more information, see our guides to childcare and preschool in Spain.
Primary schools are known as escuelas or colegios although the latter term is sometimes used to refer to semi-private and private schools. It is compulsory for children to attend primary school in the calendar year in which they turn six, and usually lasts until age There are three two-year stages or cycles, making a total of six academic years:.
Children study Spanish language and literature and the language and literature of the autonomous region if applicable , mathematics, natural and social science such as history, geography and biology , arts, a foreign language and sometimes a second foreign language in the tercer ciclo and physical education. All pupils have daily reading time. You can chose whether or not you want your child to take religious Catholic education lessons when you join the school.
Homework can be given from the first year onwards, and examinations can start from around the third year of primary school. If pupils have not attained a satisfactory level of education at the end of the first or third cycles they may have to repeat a year before moving onto the next stage. It is common for pupils to attend classes during the school holidays to catch up. The secondary school system in Spain has seen major changes in recent years.
It has moved away from the traditional rote-learning model and is now more akin to the British comprehensive system. The ethos is now more geared towards project work and continuous assessment than the old-style fact learning. Spanish schools have a relaxed atmosphere with less discipline than British schools, for example, and the family is expected to help the child with their studies.
Secondary education in Spain is divided into two cycles: from 12 to 14 years and from 14 to In both cycles, there are core compulsory subjects and optional subjects. The core curriculum is usually Spanish language and literature and the language and literature of the autonomous region if applicable , mathematics, geography, history, a foreign language and physical education. At the end of the two years, the curriculum has similar core subjects and students have to choose some optional courses which include: natural and social sciences, music, technology, plastic and visual arts.
Religious education is optional.
Secondary students cannot repeat a year more than twice. They can then move onto the next level of higher secondary education to do their bachillerato , which will allow them to apply to a university. Compulsory education in Spain ends at the end of ESO. Although not compulsory, students can continue their education in Spain by studying for university entrance or entering vocational studies. Bachillerato At 16, students who wish to continue their education can study for a further two years to earn the Bachillerato certificate.
All students take a number of core subjects including Spanish, a foreign language and history but they also have to specialise in one area: natural and health sciences, sciences and engineering, social sciences, the humanities or the arts.
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Some nine subjects are studied with the yearly exam results of each subject aggregated to provide an overall mark up to A pass at Bachillerato will allow a student to take university entrance examinations Selectivo. To undertake the state-supervised Selectivo , the student will take 7—8 examinations over three days that mimic their Bachillerato examinations. Then they will be provided with an aggregate score up to 10 like the Bachillerato system.
The final grade will define what they can study at university. Ciclos Formativos The vocational courses provided by the institutos are intended to provide practical training for a working skill such as plumbing, electrical work, hairdressing etc. The vocational courses last four years and result in qualifications universally recognised across Spain. There are two parts to the Ciclos Formativos :.
Those who have passed the Bachillerato with acceptable marks and who want to go on to university take an entrance exam in June. Read more about higher education in Spain. Lessons in Spanish state schools are taught in Spanish or sometimes in the regional language, such as Catalan or Basque. Schools may put children in the appropriate class for their level of understanding — which could be with younger children — until their language has improved to the point that they can follow lessons with children of their own age.
As a rule, the younger the child, the quicker the new language is acquired. Some children may have to repeat a year. The test was expanded to lower secondary education in with the same objectives and aproach. The test results were published in a ranking format in the first editions. However, due to important criticisms coming from the education community the test has not been published in a ranking format anymore, but in a school browser.
Despite the CDI results have not formal or direct concequences for students or schools, the publication of the school test results in a free choice environment contributes to the test putting more performative pressure on schools. Definition of basic standards for language and mathematics, stablish the annual administration of the CDI test and stablish complementary diagnostic evaluation in primary and secondary education.
Verger, A. Prieto, M. European Education Research Journal. In , an external and census base test for Catalan primary schools was adopted. Initially, this test had a diagnostic purpose and a low-stakes orientation. In parallel to the introduction of the test, an Education Reform Act that gave more managerial autonomy to schools and empowered school principals was adopted in Catalonia. More recently, the Catalan government has started using the standardized test to assess teachers' productivity and to identify and intervene underperforming schools. The evaluation of the education system in Catalonia used to consist on a sample-base evaluation conducted every four years in collaboration between the National Institute of Evaluation central government and the Superior Council of Evaluation of the Education System regional government.
Nonetheless, since , the Catalan Department of Education started implementing an external and census test for all 6th grade students of primary education.
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The test assesses the competences and basic knowledge on language and mathematics and is administered by the Superior Council of Evaluation. The test results are provided to families and schools, but are not published in a way that individual schools results can be identified. Initially, the test had mainly a diagnostic purpose. Schools are also expected to implement improvement plans according to the results of the test.
More recently, the Catalan government has started using the test to assess teachers' productivity and to identify and intervene underperforming schools. Nonetheless, most accountability policies attached to the test are uneven and lack continuity. Despite its low stakes orientation, the external test has generated opposition between families and students who consider it as an instrument with a low educational value that promotes competition between schools and the stigmatization of some students and schools.
In recent years the Catalan test has been re-designed and aligned with the PISA competences-based model of evaluation.
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