Education, education, education (Part 2)

Image Sunset Properties continues its practical guide to education in Spain, this time moving on to provision for 6-12 year olds.

In this series of articles on education in Spain we have previously looked at nursery and infant school provision. If you missed these you can find them at and  

Compulsory education in Spain begins at the age of six and from this age until they are twelve children attend primary school or escuela primaria and are taught in year groups.  The hours and holiday are as they were at the infantil stage, that is from 9  2 each day with breaks at Christmas and Easter and that marathon 13 week summer holiday!  Again there are summer school activities but you would have to pay for these and they are generally fairly academic in content rather than creative or activity based.  One difference at this stage is that text books are now provided by the school but you are still expected to supply all consumables such as pens, paper, work books etc.  And you'll have to replace text books if they are lost or damaged.

Parents tell me that the general approach to primary education in Spain is significantly different from that in the UK in a number of ways.  Firstly there is no national curriculum and although there is continuous assessment by regular testing, the results are not published nationally or locally.  You will get regular feedback through termly reports on each module in all subject areas which include numeracy, literacy, music, arts, combined sciences and humanities and P.E.  Religious education is optional and is focussed entirely on teaching Catholicism rather than the comparative religious studies offered in many other countries.  The subjects tend to be taught separately rather than using a project based approach.  Teaching methods are centred on a 'chalk and talk' style with children sitting at their desks in rows.  Of course many children respond well to this kind of teaching and flourish in a structured environment. Certainly the teachers appear to be less stressed than their UK counterparts.  This could also partly be due to the relatively small class sizes with between 18 and 24 children per class. Homework is normal throughout primary school but the amount given is up to the individual teacher.  Where it is set, it has to be handed in the next day or the child will be kept in at playtime to finish it!It may be reassuring to know that non-Spanish speaking children have regular and free extra support to help them learn Spanish.

Finally, the Junta de Andalucia publishes a very helpful guide to the local education system which you can pick up from the school.  It is called 'A School of many Colours' and is written specifically for foreigners.
Sue Baker

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