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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Fundamental principles and national policies


2.Organisation and governance

2.1Fundamental principles and national policies

Last update: 12 January 2023

The legislative framework governing and guiding the Spanish education system comprises the 1978 Spanish Constitution and a series of organic laws that develop it.

Constitutional principles governing the education system

Article 27 of the Spanish Constitution establishes the following:

  • everyone has the right to education. Teaching freedom is recognised;
  • the purpose of education will be the full development of human personality respecting the democratic principles of coexistence and the fundamental rights and freedoms;
  • public authorities guarantee parents' right to ensure that their children will receive a religious and moral education in line with their own beliefs;
  • basic education is compulsory and free;
  • public authorities guarantee everyone's right to education, through the general organisation of education, with the participation of all the sectors involved, and the creation of educational institutions;
  • individuals and legal entities are free to create educational institutions, subject to observance of the constitutional principles;
  • teachers, parents and, sometimes, students will take part in the control and management of all the publicly-funded educational institutions, as determined by law;
  • public authorities will inspect and recognise the education system in order to ensure that legislation is observed;
  • public authorities will support the educational institutions meeting the requirements defined by law;
  • university autonomy is recognised, as determined by law.

Principles and purposes established by the basic rules regulating the education system

Organic Law 3/2020 amending Organic Law 2/2006 on Education (LOMLOE), in its Preamble, points out the incorporation of various approaches that are key to adapting the education system to current needs. They are the following:

  • children's rights among the guiding principles of the system;
  • gender equality through co-education and the promotion at all stages of learning of effective equality between women and men, the prevention of gender violence and respect for affective-sexual diversity, introducing educational and vocational guidance for students with an inclusive and non-sexist perspective in secondary education;
  • a cross-cutting approach aimed at ensuring that all students have guarantees of success in education through a dynamic of continuous improvement of educational institutions and a greater individualisation of learning;
  • focus on sustainable development in line with the 2030 Agenda;
  • the digital transformation taking place in all societies and which inevitably affects educational activities.

The ultimate aim of adopting these approaches is to reinforce equity and inclusiveness in the system, with the main backbone of the system being comprehensive education.

In this regard, Article 1 of Organic Law 2/2006 on Education (LOE), as amended by the LOMLOE, stipulates that the Spanish education system must be based on the following principles:

  • the effective fulfilment of children's rights as established in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations on 20 November 1989, ratified on 30 November 1990, and its optional protocols;
  • the quality of education for all students, regardless of their situation and circumstances;
  • equity, educational inclusion, equal rights and opportunities, and universal accessibility to education;
  • the transmission and implementation of values encouraging personal freedom, responsibility, democratic citizenship, solidarity, tolerance, equality, respect and justice, as well as values that will help overcome any kind of discrimination;
  • the idea of education as a lifelong learning process that goes on throughout life;
  • flexibility in order to adapt education to the diversity of students’ skills, interests, expectations and needs, as well as to the changes experienced by students and society;
  • students’ educational and vocational guidance, as a necessary means to achieve a personalised training, promoting a comprehensive education in knowledge, skills and values;
  • students’ individual effort and motivation;
  • the shared effort of students, families, teachers, schools, administrations, institutions and society as a whole;
  • the recognition of the role of families and guardians as those primarily responsible for the education of their children;
  • autonomy to establish and adapt organisational and curricular actions within the framework of the powers and responsibilities of the State, the autonomous communities, local corporations and educational institutions;
  • the participation of the educational community in the organisation, governance and running of educational institutions;
  • education for coexistence, respect, conflict prevention and peaceful conflict resolution, as well as for non-violence in all areas of personal, family and social life, and especially in the area of bullying and cyber-bullying;
  • development, at school, of values that promote equal rights, duties and opportunities, respect for affective-sexual and family diversity, the promotion of effective equality between men and women, as well as the prevention of gender-based violence against women and men through the consideration of the coeducation regime for boys and girls, affective-sexual education, adapted to the level of maturity, and the prevention of gender-based violence, as well as the promotion of a critical spirit and active citizenship;
  • the consideration of the teaching function as a key factor of educational quality, the social recognition of teachers and support to their task;
  • encouraging and promoting educational research, experimentation and innovation;
  • evaluation of the education system as a whole, its programming and organisation, and regarding teaching and learning processes, as well as results;
  • cooperation between the State and the autonomous communities in the definition, implementation and evaluation of educational policies;
  • cooperation and collaboration between the education authorities and local corporations in the planning and implementation of educational policies;
  • academic freedom, which recognises families’ and guardians’ right to choose the type of education and school for their children, within the framework of constitutional principles.

Main goals set for the non-university education system

Article 2 of the LOE, amended by the Organic Law 3/2018 on the protection of personal data and guarantee of digital rights (LOPDGDD) and by the LOMLOE, states that the Spanish education system will be oriented towards the achievement of the following aims:

  • the full development of students’ personality and capabilities;
  • the education in the respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, in equal rights and opportunities for men and women, and in equal treatment and non-discrimination against others on the basis of any condition or circumstance;
  • the education in the exercise of tolerance and freedom within the democratic principles of coexistence, as well as in conflict prevention and their resolution;
  • the education in individual responsibility and in merit and personal effort;
  • the education for peace, respect for human rights, social cohesion, cooperation and solidarity among peoples, as well as the acquisition of values favouring respect towards all living creatures and the rights of animals and the environment, and particularly the potential of forests and sustainable development;
  • the development of students’ capacity to organise their own learning, trust their own abilities and knowledge, as well as to develop creativity, personal initiative and entrepreneurship;
  • the education in the respect and recognition of the linguistic and cultural diversity of Spain, as well as of interculturality, as an enriching element of society;
  • the acquisition of study habits and working techniques, of scientific, technical, humanistic, historical and artistic knowledge, as well as the development of healthy habits, physical exercise and sport;
  • the training for the exercise of professional, caregiving and social collaboration activities;
  • the training to communicate in the official and co-official language, if any, and in one or more foreign languages;
  • the preparation for an active exercise of citizenship, for the insertion in the surrounding society and for an active participation in the economic, social and cultural life, with a critical and responsible attitude and with the ability to adapt to the fast-changing situations of the knowledge-based society;
  • the training to ensure the full integration of students in the digital society and their learning of a use of digital media that is safe and respectful of human dignity, constitutional values, fundamental rights and, in particular, respecting and guaranteeing individual and collective privacy.

Main functions established for university education

Article 1 of Organic Law 6/2001 on Universities (LOU) determines the role of universities, with the following functions at the service of society:

  • the creation, development, transmission and criticism of science, technology and culture;
  • the preparation for the exercise of professional activities that require the application of knowledge and scientific methods as well as for artistic creation;
  • the dissemination, appraisal and transfer of knowledge in the service of culture, the quality of life and economic development;
  • the dissemination of knowledge and culture through university extension and lifelong learning.