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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Primary Education


5.Primary Education

Last update: 14 February 2024

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.


Educational intervention in Primary Education is based on developing and laying the foundations for the acquisition of the key competences foreseen in the pupils' Exit Profile, taking into account their individual maturation process and the levels of performance expected for this stage.


IIt is organised in six academic years, grouped into three cycles of two academic years each, which are normally followed between the ages of six and twelve. Pupils enter the first year of the stage in the calendar year in which they turn six. Each year is organised into areas that have a global and integrating character and are oriented towards the development of pupils' competences.

The areas of Primary Education that are taught in all grades can be organised into domains and are as follows:

  • Knowledge of the Natural, Social and Cultural Environment, which may be divided into Natural Sciences and Social Sciences.
  • Artistic Education, which may be divided into Plastic and Visual Education, on the one hand, and Music and Dance, on the other.
  • Physical Education.
  • Spanish Language and Literature and, if there is one, Co-official Language and Literature.
  • Foreign Language.
  • Mathematics.
  • In one of the courses of the third cycle, the area of Education in Civic and Ethical Values will be added. 

The education authorities may add a second foreign language, another co-official language, a cross-curricular area and/or Spanish sign languages. 

Primary Education is taught by teachers with a teaching qualification who are competent in all areas at this level, except for the teaching of music, physical education, foreign languages or those others determined by the Government, through the Ministry of Education,Vocational Training and Sports (MEFD), after consultation with the Autonomous Communities, which will be taught by teachers 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 Spanish language, 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 2021/22 school year, there were 13 8961 schools providing primary education in Spain as a whole, of which 10 30922 were public schools, 30214 private grant-aided schools and 540467 private schools. Source: Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sport statistics on the number of schools providing each type of education.

The number of schools varies substantially from one Autonomous Community to another.

Education policy

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.