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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Guidance and counselling in early childhood and school education


12.Educational support and guidance

12.4Guidance and counselling in early childhood and school education

Last update: 2 July 2024

Article 1 of Law 2/2006 on Education (LOE), amended by Law 3/2020 (LOMLOE), establishes among its principles the educational and professional orientation of the students as a necessary instrument for the achievement of a personalised training process that may foster a comprehensive education in knowledge, skills and values.

The National Institute of Educational Technologies and Teacher Training (INTEF), defines educational guidance as:

  • a resource which is part of the educational action to improve learning and support teachers;
  • a principle of the Spanish educational system as a necessary means to achieve a customized learning, providing a comprehensive education in knowledge, skills and values;
  • based on the principles of prevention, development and global intervention;
  • addressed at pupils, families and professionals in educational institutions;
  • teachers are the direct agents of guidance work in collaboration with the specialised services or departments established by the educational administrations. 

The purpose of educational guidance is to provide the educational community with personalised advice in order to adequately cater for the diversity of students throughout their schooling.

The different education authorities are responsible for developing guidance. For this reason, most of the Autonomous Communities have currently published specific regulations for their total or partial organisation. In addition, some aspects related to the functions and structure of educational guidance are established through the regulation of the curriculum of primary education and compulsory secondary education of the educational authorities and the schools organic rules.

School counselors belong to the internal and external guidance structures that intervene directly in education institutions. In the different education administrations we find Educational and Psychopedagogical Guidance Teams, Early Care Teams, Specific Teams and Guidance Units or Departments.

According to the Order EDU/3498/2011, these professionals belong to the Secondary Education Teacher Body and, specifically, to the speciality of Educational Guidance. The different educational authorities establish the counselor's functions in early childhood, primary and secondary education centres:

  • coordinate academic and professional guidance activities;
  • provide advice to the Pedagogical Coordination Commission;
  • participate in the prevention and identification of learning issues;
  • conduct the psycho-pedagogical evaluation of students in need of one;
  • participate in the curricular adaptations of students with educational support needs;
  • provide advice on the development of social guarantee programmes;
  • provide support, advice and specific guidance to all students at non-university levels;
  • cooperate with the educational establishments and their teaching staff in the development of projects for different activities, tutorials, and academic and professional guidance;
  • provide advice for families;
  • advising, accompanying and supporting schools in the process of transformation towards inclusion. In the Secondary Education institutions of some Autonomous Communities they also teach subjects related to their field.

Academic guidance

The development of academic guidance is characterised by the following:

  • at classroom level it is carried out during compulsory and post-compulsory education:
    • in primary education, Article 13 of Royal Decree 157/2022 establishes that guidance and tutorial action will accompany the individual and collective educational process of pupils;
      • the educational intervention of the teaching staff as a whole will be coordinated from the tutorial function and a permanent relationship will be maintained with parents, tutors or legal guardians;
      • throughout the third cycle, tutors will coordinate the incorporation of elements of educational, academic and vocational guidance that include, at least, the progressive discovery of studies and professions, as well as the generation of vocational interests free of sexist stereotypes.
    • in secondary education, Article 18 of Royal Decree 217/2022 establishes that:
      • guidance and tutorial actions will accompany the students' individual and collective educational process;
      • schools must inform and guide pupils so that the choice of options and subjects is the most appropriate for their interests and their subsequent educational orientation, avoiding any bias derived from gender stereotypes;
      • at the end of the second year, the parents or legal guardians of each pupil will be given a guidance counselling document which will include a report on the degree of achievement of the objectives and the acquisition of the corresponding competences, as well as a proposal of the most appropriate option for continuing their education;
      • at the end of the stage or, where appropriate, at the end of compulsory schooling, students will receive individualised guidance counselling which will include a proposal on the academic, training or vocational option or options considered to be the most suitable. The aim of this guidance counselling will be to ensure that all pupils find a suitable option for their educational future.
  • at the direct intervention level, educational authorities regulate guidance services:
    • they collaborate in the development of the Tutorial Action Plan (PAT);
    • they collaborate and participate in the preparation of:
      • the school development plan;
      • the yearly general programme;
      • the plan for attention to diversity; or the plan for academic and professional guidance.
    • in the field of prevention these services also have the following tasks:
      • early intervention tasks for those students at high risk or with special education needs;
      • prevention of school drop-out and non-adjustment to school; or collection of information from the schools where the students come from and preparation of days to welcome students and make their entry easier; or implementation of awareness-raising campaigns for pupil integration
      • conflict and risk behaviour prevention;
      • design and development of plans for welcoming foreign students.
    • develop diagnose functions, carrying out psychopedagogical evaluations, preparing the reports and formulating the most appropriate proposals for schooling.
  • at the indirect intervention level, educational authorities regulate the following:
    • external counselling services for academic guidance, specifically to do with matters related to:
      • educational innovation;
      • counselling to teachers;
      •  dissemination of materials.

Psychological counselling

The tutorial action plan (PAT), regulated by the educational administrations, is a document that includes all the activities related to educational guidance. The tutorial action will guide the students' individual and collective educational process. The tutor will coordinate the educational intervention of all the teaching staff working with the pupils being tutored in accordance with what is established by the corresponding educational administration, and will keep permanent contact with the family. The PAT includes aspects related to the overall development of the pupil, including:

  • improve self-knowledge and self-esteem;
  • acquire the necessary skills to live in society;
  • learn to think and make decisions.

The tutor is the main figure responsible for students psychological counselling:

  • he/she is the first referent of the student and he/she ensures their harmonious and appropriate personal, emotional and social development. To this end they organise the necessary individual meetings, summoning the students' relatives if necessary;
  • In order to carry out this counselling, tutors count with the support and intervention of the corresponding guidance structure, which can also begin individual sessions or implement a more exhaustive assessment.

However, none of these professionals are responsible for a therapeutic intervention itself. When the need for an intervention of this kind is detected, students are referred to external services, generally related to the field of mental health.

Career guidance

Article 6 of Royal Decree 217/2022 and article 24 of Royal Decree 243/2022 define that the education authorities are responsible for promoting the necessary measures to ensure that personal tutoring of pupils and educational, psycho-pedagogical and vocational guidance constitute a fundamental element in the organisation of the secondary education stage.

Career guidance is the set of actions which are carried out with all the students at school, especially after compulsory secondary education, with a view to facilitating the decision-making process concerning possible academic itineraries and the professional alternatives which better adapt to their characteristics, interests and possibilities. The aim of these actions is:

  • that students develop the skills involved in the decision-making process related to their life project;
  • facilitate information on the different education or work options in every education level;
  • promote a rapprochement to the labour world and to the processes that favour the transition into an active life.

At classroom level:

  • the tutor is in charge of developing the actions in line with the Academic and Professional Guidance Plan, in collaboration with other guidance services for direct intervention;
  • said plan must be part of the students' education process throughout the stage of secondary education, especially regarding the choice of elective subjects, the assessment of the possible itineraries to finish the compulsory secondary education stage (curricular diversification programmes or basic vocational training programmes) and the choice between the different branches Bachillerato or vocational training cycles.