This chapter provides a thematic and chronological overview of national reforms and policy developments since 2021.
The introduction of the chapter describes the overall education strategy and the key objectives across the whole education system. It also looks at how the education reform process is organised and who are the main actors in the decision-making process.
The section on ongoing reforms and policy developments groups reforms in the following broad thematic areas that largely correspond to education levels:
- Early childhood education and care;
- School education;
- VET and Adult learning;
- Higher education;
- Transversal skills and Employability.
Inside each thematic area, reforms are organised chronologically. The most recent reforms are described first.
Overall national education strategy and key objectives
During the last 15 years, in coherence with the objectives set at the European level, attention has been paid to reducing early dropouts from education and training, to the full implementation of school autonomy, to the quality of education and to student competencies. This way, social inequalities have been addressed and the right to study and equal opportunities to education and training for all have been guaranteed.
The legislation that governs our educational system is the Law 2/2006 on Education (LOE), amended by Law 3/2020 (LOMLOE). This law is based on the search for quality and excellence in the education system and is based on 5 basic pillars:
- the rights of the child, as established in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), recognizing the best interests of children, their right to education and the obligation of the State to ensure the effective fulfilment of their rights;
- gender equality through coeducation. This law promotes, at all levels, effective equality between men and women, the prevention of gender violence and respect for affective-sexual diversity;
- the improvement of the results of all students with greater personalization of the learning process;
- the importance of addressing sustainable development as established in the 2030 Agenda;
- the development of the digital competence of students of all levels.
In Spain, the reform process in the field of education and training is developed in three main scenarios:
At a European level: the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2023 establishes the main guidelines and educational strategies that all the Member States of the European Union (EU) must follow.
At a national level: the National Reform Programmes (NRP) annually define medium-term national objectives as well as the economic policy measures to achieve.
- The 2023 NRP has as its main axes: the green transition; digital transformation and productivity improvement; social and territorial cohesion and policies for future generations; macroeconomic stability and resilience.
- The 2022 NRP includes the positive impact of the European investment and reform programme financed with the NextGenerationEU funds in 2021, that will be strengthen in 2022. The impact of the structural reforms in the fields of education, science, public administrations, the business climate and the proper functioning of the markets, will join the acceleration of the investment programmes since the approval of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan. In 2022, significant progress has been made in a comprehensive reform of all training phases of the education system, such as the new Royal Decrees on minimum education for child, primary and secondary education and bachillerato. These regulations promote a curricular model based on competences, give greater prominence to digital competences, and foresee itineraries for different types of students in order to maximize their employability and prevent school drop out.
- The 2021 NPR includes the reforms and investments provided for in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, which has been developed in order to alleviate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. These reforms are aligned with the specific recommendations of the European Union in the context of the 2021 European Semester.
At a regional or autonomous level: territorial cooperation between the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports (MEFD) and the Councils and Departments of Education of the Autonomous Communities is carried out through the Education Sector Conference, constituted by the top officials of said administrations.
The design and the development and implementation of reforms depend on the education authority promoting them (and both administrative levels, national and regional, may be involved).
Overview of the education reform process and drivers
The reforms of the education system follow the same procedure as the rest of the national legislation established by the Spanish Constitution of 1978 in the second chapter on Law-making Process of Title III: General Courts, Articles 81 to 92. The legislative initiative corresponds to the Government, the Congress and the Senate in accordance with the Constitution and the Rules of the Houses.
The draft laws are approved by the Council of Ministers and subsequently submitted to Congress, accompanied by a statement of reasons and the necessary background information to rule on them. Once a draft law is approved by the Congress of Deputies, its president immediately reports it to the president of the Senate, who submits it to the latter for deliberation. The Senate can veto or introduce amendments to it. Finally, the King sanctions the laws approved by the Cortes Generales within fifteen days, enacts them and orders their immediate publication.
In case of extraordinary and urgent need, the Government may issue provisional legislative provisions that take the form of Royal Decree-Laws. The MEFD is in charge of the normative development and implementation of the laws of education through the issuance of Royal Decrees and Ministerial Orders.
The next step of legislative concretion is carried out in the scope of the Autonomous Communities. In their area of competence, and based on education laws and royal ministerial decrees, the autonomous communities legislate their own decrees and orders.