Primary education is regulated by Organic Law 2/2006 on Education (LOE), as amended by Organic Law 3/2020. Along with compulsory secondary education (ESO) and the basic training cycles, it constitutes the basic, compulsory and cost-free education of the education system. During this stage, special attention will be paid to ensuring educational inclusion, individualised attention, prevention of learning difficulties and implementation of reinforcement mechanisms as soon as these difficulties are identified.
The educational administrations on their side, must encourage:
- the quality, equity and social inclusion of people with disabilities, as well as equal opportunities and non-discrimination on the basis of disability through flexibilisation measures and methodological alternatives, curricular adaptations, universal accessibility and design for all, and measures to deal with diversity;
- the development of values:
- that promote effective equality between men and women, and the prevention of gender-based violence;
- concerning the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination on grounds of any personal or social condition or circumstance;
- learning about prevention and the peaceful resolution of conflict in any area in personal, family or social life of the individual, as well as the values underlying freedom, justice, equality and political pluralism, peace, democracy, respect for human rights and rejection of terrorist violence, plurality, respect for the rule of law, respect an concern for victims of terrorism and the prevention of terrorism and any kind of violence;
- measures to make physical activity and a balanced diet become an integral part of children's behaviour. To this end, the daily practice of sport and physical exercise by pupils during the school day should be promoted to encourage an active, healthy and autonomous life;
- in the field of education and road safety, actions for the improvement of coexistence and the prevention of road accidents. The aim is for students to be aware of their rights and duties as road users, thus promoting coexistence, tolerance, caution, self-control, dialogue and empathy with appropriate actions aimed at avoiding traffic accidents and their consequences.
In any case, the teaching programme must include the prevention of any form of violence, racism or xenophobia, including the study of the Jewish Holocaust as a historical fact. In addition, any sexist behaviour and contents as well as stereotypes that involve discrimination must be avoided.
Along these lines, Primary Education curricula have to incorporate curricular elements that can be grouped into two large groups:
- related to:
- sustainable development and the environment;
- the risks of sexual exploitation and abuse;
- situations of risk arising from the use of information and communication technologies (ICT);
- emergency and disaster prevention;
- Focused on the development and strengthening of the entrepreneurial spirit, through activities promoted by the education authorities based on skills such as creativity, autonomy, initiative, teamwork, self-confidence and critical thinking.
It is organised into six grades, grouped into three cycles of two academic years each, that students take between the ages of 6 and 12. Students begin the 1st year of the stage in the calendar year in which they reach the age of 6. Each grade is organised in areas, which have a global and integrating focus and are oriented towards the development of pupils' skills. These areas can be organised into fields.
It is delivered by teachers with a “primary school teacher” qualification who have competence in all areas of this level, except in the teaching of music, physical education, foreign languages or those others determined by the Government, through the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MEFP), after consultation with the Autonomous Communities, which will be taught by teaching staff with the corresponding specialisation or qualification.
Aim and general objectives
The purpose of this stage is to:
- facilitate learning of oral expression and comprehension, reading, writing and arithmetic;
- acquire basic notions of culture, coexistence, study and work habits, artistic sense, creativity and affection;
- guarantee a comprehensive education that contributes to the full development of the students' personality;
- prepare students to successfully complete compulsory secondary education.
The general objectives regarding the academic achievement that students must have reached by the end of the educational process as a result of the teaching and learning experiences, intentionally planned for that purpose, are:
- know and appreciate the values and rules for coexistence, to learn and act accordingly in an empathetic way, to prepare to actively exercise citizenship and to respect human rights and the pluralism of a democratic society;
- develop individual and team work habits, respect and responsibility with regards to their studies, as well as attitudes of self-confidence, critical sense, personal initiative, interest and creativity in learning, and entrepreneurial spirit;
- acquire skills for the peaceful resolution of conflict and the prevention of violence, which enables them to autonomously get by within the school and domestic context and within the social groups they interact with;
- know, understand and respect different cultures and differences among people, equal gender rights and opportunities and non-discrimination of people on the basis of ethnicity, sexual orientation or identity, religion or belief, disability or other any other conditions;
- know and appropriately use the Castilian language (Spanish), and if any, the co-official language of the corresponding Autonomous Community and to develop reading habits;
- acquire, in at least a foreign language, the basic communicative competence which enables them to express and understand simple messages and get by in daily situations;
- develop basic mathematical competences and start solving problems which require basic mathematical operations, geometrical knowledge and estimates, as well as be able to apply them to daily situations;
- know the fundamentals of Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Geography, History and Culture;
- develop basic technological competences and initiate in their use for learning, developing a critical spirit towards their functioning and the messages they receive and elaborate;
- use different artistic representations and expressions and start devising visual and audiovisual proposals;
- value hygiene and health, accept one's body and others', respect differences and use physical education, sports and nutrition as means for favouring personal and social development;
- know and value the animals that live in close contact to human beings and adopt behaviours that favour empathy and their care;
- develop pupils' affective skills in every field of their personality and relations with others, as well as an attitude against violence, any kind of prejudice and sexist stereotypes;
- develop daily habits of healthy autonomous mobility, promoting road safety education and respectful attitudes which might contribute to prevent traffic accidents.
Schools providing primary education
Public schools providing pre-primary and primary education are called pre-primary and primary schools. Those just providing only primary education are called primary schools.
Publicly-funded private schools and private schools usually provide the whole basic educational stage and, in general, also post-compulsory studies. These schools can adopt any name, except for those corresponding to public schools or if it can lead to confusion.
In the 2020/21 academic year, 13 896 schools were teaching primary education in the whole country, of which 10 322 were public schools, 3024 publicly funded private schools and 540 private schools. Source: Statistics from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training on the number of centres that provide each type of education.
The number of schools varies substantially from one Autonomous Community to another.
The priority aspects of the Spanish educational policy regarding primary education focus on several aspects:
- the incorporation of the following approaches that are key to adapting the education system to present needs:
- children's rights among the guiding principles of the system;
- gender equality through co-education and the promotion of effective equality between women and men, the prevention of gender violence and respect for affective-sexual diversity;
- 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;
- several strategic objectives:
- promoting lifelong learning and teacher mobility;
- guaranteeing educational inclusion and quality education for all students;
- guaranteeing equal opportunities in the fulfilment of the right to education;
- encouraging participation in education;
- promoting the learning of foreign languages.