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Teaching and learning in general upper secondary education


6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.5Teaching and learning in general upper secondary education

Last update: 20 February 2024

Curriculum, subjects, number of hours

The curriculum is understood as the set of objectives, competences (key and specific), contents (stated in the form of basic knowledge), pedagogical methods (through learning situations) and assessment criteria. 

Royal Decree 243/2022 establishing the organisation and minimum teaching standards for Bachillerato defines each curricular element as follows:

  • Objectives: achievements that students are expected to have attained by the end of the stage and which are linked to the acquisition of key competences.
  • Key competences: skills that are considered essential for students to be able to progress with guaranteed success in their educational itinerary, and to face the main global and local challenges. They are the adaptation to the Spanish education system of the key competences established in the European Union Council Recommendation of 22 May 2018 on key competences for lifelong learning.
  • Specific competences: performance levels that students must be able to display in learning activities or situations which require the basic knowledge of each subject in order to be approached. The specific competences constitute an element of connection between, on one hand, the key competences and, on the other hand, the basic knowledge of the subjects and the assessment criteria.
  • Assessment criteria: reference points indicating the levels of performance expected of students in activities or situations referred to in the specific competences for each subject at a given moment in their learning process.
  • Basic knowledge: knowledge, skills and attitudes that constitute the contents of a subject and which must be learnt in order to acquire the specific competences.
  • Learning situations: situations and activities that involve the students' performance of actions associated with key competences and specific competences and that contribute to the acquisition and development of all of them.

Royal Decree 243/2022 also establishes, in Annex I, that the eight key competences are:

  • linguistic communication skills;
  • multilingual skills;
  • mathematical competence and scientific, technological and engineering skills;
  • digital skills;
  • personal, social and learning to learn skills;
  • citizenship skills;
  • entrepreneurial skills;
  • cultural awareness and expression skills.

Their incorporation into the school curriculum entails a number of consequences:

  • Their effective acquisition and integration into the curriculum is achieved through the design of integrated learning situations that enable learners to progress towards the learning outcomes in several skills at the same time, as many of these skills overlap and are interlinked.
  • There is no universal relationship between the teaching of certain areas or subjects and the development of certain skills; each teaching area contributes to the development of different skills and, in turn, each of the skills is achieved as a result of working in various areas or subjects.

The Administration, through the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sport (MEFD), after consulting the  autonomous communities, establishes the basic curriculum (compulsory minimum teaching throughout the country in terms of objectives, competences, content and assessment criteria) in order to ensure common education for all pupils. These minimum teachings make up 50 percent of the school timetables in the Autonomous Communities with a co-official language and 60 percent for those without it.

The educational authorities in the autonomous communities establish the curriculum in their respective areas of administration, which must include the minimum teaching requirements established by the MEFD. In addition, they must periodically review those curricula in order to adapt them to the advances in knowledge, as well as to the changes and new demands of their local area, of Spanish society and of the European and international context.

The curriculum of bachillerato education is organised into successive levels of concretion, which  progressively adapt to the specificities of the school environment and the students who attend it.

Accordingly, schools also play an active role, developing, completing and adapting the curriculum to the pupils' needs and to their environment. To this end, they prepare a series of tools for formulating their pedagogic and curricular organisation:

  • the school development plan, which includes the application of the established curricula by the Education Administration;
  • the yearly general programme;
  • the didactic programmes;
  • the written report at the end of the school year, which reflects and evaluates the school activities and the running of the school.

The educational community takes part in the elaboration of these documents through the respective government and coordination teaching bodies of the school. The curricula established by the Education Administration are set and approved by the school staff, as well as the educational aspects of the yearly general programme.


Bachillerato is developed in different modalities, it is organised in a flexible way and in different itineraries, so that it can offer students a specialised preparation in accordance with their educational prospects and interests or allow them to join the labour market once they have completed it.

The modalities of bachillerato studies which may be offered by the educational authorities and, where appropriate, by schools are the following:

  • Science and Technology;
  • Humanities and Social Sciences;
  • Arts;
  • General.

Bachillerato is organised into common subjects, modality subjects and elective subjects.

The Government, after consulting the autonomous communities, is responsible for establishing the structure of the modalities, the specific subjects in each of them and the number of these subjects to be taken by the students.

Any student can choose from among all the established modality subjects. Each of the modalities can be organised in different itineraries that facilitate the specialisation of students for subsequent studies or for their incorporation into the labour market. Schools must offer all the subjects and, where appropriate, itineraries in each modality. The choice of subjects and itineraries can only be limited for students when there is an insufficient number of students, according to objective criteria previously established by the educational authorities.

When the range of subjects provided at a school is limited for organisational reasons, the educational authorities should make it easier for students to attend some subjects at other schools or through distance learning.

The common subjects in bachillerato studies are the following:

First year of bachillerato

Second year of bachillerato

  • Physical Education;
  • Philosophy;
  • Spanish Language and Literature and, if applicable, regional Language and Literature;
  • Foreign Language I;
  • Spanish History;
  • History of Philosophy;
  • Spanish Language and Literature and, if applicable, regional Language and Literature;
  • Foreign Language II;

The specific subjects in bachillerato studies, depending on the different modalities, are the following:


Arts modality

Science and Technology modality

General modality

Humanities and Social Sciences modality

Visual Arts, Image and Design itinerary

Music and Performing Arts itinerary

Year 1 Artistic Drawing I Music Analysis I or Performing Arts I Mathematics I General Mathematics Latin I or Mathematics Applied to Social Sciences I

Two subjects to be chosen from:

Audiovisual Culture;

Technical Drawing Applied to Plastic Arts and Design I;

Artistic Projects;



Two subjects to be chosen from:

Musical Analysis I;

Performing Arts I;

Choir and Vocal Technique I;

Audiovisual Culture;

Musical Language and Practice.


Two subjects to be chosen from:

Biology; Geology and Environmental Sciences;

Technical Drawing I;

Physics and Chemistry;

Technology and Engineering I.


Two subjects to be chosen from among all the first-year modality subjects offered at the institution. This offer will compulsorily include the subject of Economics, Entrepreneurship and Business Activity.


Greek I

Contemporary World History;

Latin I;

Universal Literature;

Mathematics Applied to Social Sciences I and I;


Year 2 Artistic Drawing II Music Analysis II or Performing Arts II Mathematics II or Mathematics Applied to Social Sciences II General Science Latin II or Mathematics Applied to Social Sciences II

Two subjects to be chosen from:

Technical Drawing Applied to Plastic Arts and Design II;


Art Fundamentals;

Graphic and Plastic Expression Techniques.


Two subjects to be chosen from:

Musical Analysis II;

Performing Arts II;

Choir and Vocal Technique II;

History of Music and Dance;

Dramatic Literature.


Two subjects to be chosen from:



Drawing II;


Geology and Environmental Sciences;


Technology and Engineering II.


Two subjects to be chosen from among all the second-year modality subjects offered at the institution. This offer will compulsorily include the subject of Cultural and Artistic Movements.

Two subjects to be chosen from:

Enterprise and Business Model Design;


Greek II;

History of Art;

Latin II;

Mathematics Applied to Social Sciences II.



The educational authorities are responsible for the organisation of elective subjects, which must include at least one second foreign language. Schools may make proposals for other elective subjects of their own, which require the prior approval of the corresponding educational authority.

Catholic Religion is a compulsory subject for schools and voluntary for students. In turn, the teaching of other religions complies with the cooperation agreements signed by the Spanish State with the different religious denominations.

The education authorities establish the linguistic models regarding the teaching of the official languages in their management sphere.

In addition, they may establish that part of the subjects of the curriculum might be taught in a foreign language, without altering the basic aspects of the curriculum. By the end of the stage, students must master the terminology of the subjects in both languages. However, schools that offer part of the subjects of the curriculum in a foreign language cannot include language requirements as admission criteria for students.

There is also the possibility of studying Bachillerato over three academic years in accordance with the provisions of article 15 of Royal Decree 243/2022. In this sense, the educational administrations will provide the measures that make it possible for a student to complete his or her Bachillerato studies in three academic years, under the ordinary system, whenever his or her personal circumstances, either permanent or transitory, make it advisable to do so. In these cases, students may simultaneously enrol in subjects from both years of the Bachillerato programme. This option is available to those who are in any of the following circumstances:

  • students who are simultaneously enrolled, during the stage, in the Professional Music or Dance Education programmes.
  • students who accredit their status of high-level or high-performance athletes.
  • students who require different educational attention to the ordinary one due to a specific need for educational support.
  • students who claim other circumstances which, in the opinion of the corresponding educational administration and under the terms established by it, justify the application of this measure.

The education authorities shall determine, within their territorial scope, the distribution of the subjects comprising the Bachillerato studies, guaranteeing the appropriate planning of the subjects offered among which there is priority, in accordance with the provisions of Annex V.

Teaching methods and materials

Teaching methods

The teaching methodology is the set of strategies, procedures and actions consciously and thoughtfully organised and planned by teachers with the aim of guaranteeing student learning and the attainment of the stated objectives.

The MEFD, through Royal Decree 243/2022, establishes the methodological principles that must guide the teaching practice in bachillerato education:

  • The learning situations in bachillerato programmes must foster students’ abilities to learn independently, work in teams and apply appropriate research methods.
  • These learning situations should integrate the different curricular elements of the different subjects through meaningful and relevant tasks and activities to solve problems in a creative and cooperative way, reinforcing self-esteem, autonomy, initiative, critical thinking and responsibility.
  • Learning should be contextualised.
  • Universal Design for Learning should be aligned with learning situations, promoting flexible and accessible pedagogical processes that adjust to the students' needs, characteristics and learning pace.
  • The tasks or activities proposed should favour different types of grouping.
  • Special attention must be paid to the educational and vocational guidance of students, incorporating the gender perspective.
  • The education authorities must promote the necessary measures in the different subjects to encourage and develop students’ reading as well as their ability to express themselves properly in public.
  • In the organisation of bachillerato education, special attention must be paid to students with specific educational support needs. To this end, the organisational and methodological alternatives and measures to cater for diversity must be established in order to facilitate these students' access to the curriculum.
  • The official languages will be used only as a support in the process of learning foreign languages. In this process, priority will be given to comprehension, expression and oral interaction.

Within their pedagogic autonomy, schools are in charge of defining the teaching methods in the classroom, according to the said pedagogic principles. They also decide on curricular materials and didactic resources. In this regard, they must develop their pedagogical proposals for all students, taking into account their diversity. Likewise, they must adopt methods that take into account the different learning paces of students, favour their ability to learn on their own and promote teamwork.

Each teacher can make their own methodological decisions, which must respect both the agreements made at school level and what the relevant education authorities establish.

Curricular materials and teaching resources

Textbooks and teaching materials do not require the previous authorisation of the education authorities for their adoption and publication. In any case, they must:

  • be adapted to the scientific rigour adequate for the pupils’ age group and to the approved curriculum set by each Education Authority;
  • reflect and promote respect for the principles, values, freedom, rights and constitutional duties, as well as the principles and values set out in current educational laws and in Organic Law 1/2004 on Comprehensive Protection Measures against Gender Violence, with which all educational activity must comply.

In the exercise of pedagogical autonomy, it is up to the educational coordination bodies of each public educational institution to decide on the textbooks and other materials to be used in the development of the different areas.

The supervision of textbooks and other curricular materials is the responsibility of the educational authorities and constitutes part of the ordinary process of inspection carried out by each of them on all the elements composing the teaching and learning process. In any case, it is necessary to ensure respect for the principles and values contained in the Constitution and the provisions of all regulations in force.

Families bear the costs of textbooks and school materials. However, the MEFD promotes, within the Sectoral Committee for Education, programmes that facilitate the availability of textbooks at no cost and other curricular materials through a system of loans or grants. This Sectoral Committee, through the General Education Commission (support body), agrees on the objective criteria for distribution, as well as the amounts to be transferred in favour of each autonomous community in each budget year. The agreement and the distribution for the year 2023can be accessed at the link.

At the same time, there are a number of  regional and local aids for the purchase of textbooks and school materials for students attending publicly-funded schools.

Finally, although various initiatives  have been carried out by different Education Administrations to regulate the homework that students must do outside school hours, in Spain there is no specific legislation regulating this aspect at a national level. It therefore remains at the discretion of each teacher or whatever arrangements are made at the school.

Information and Communication Technologies

This stage helps pupils to progress in the degree of competence development which, according to the Exit Profile for pupils at the end of Basic Education, should be achieved by the end of Compulsory Secondary Education. One of the key competences included in the Exit Profile is Digital Competence, defined in ANNEX I  of Royal Decree 243/2022 as:

"The safe, healthy, sustainable, critical and responsible use of digital technologies for learning, for work and for participation in society, as well as interaction with these".

Educational authorities and management teams at public schools should promote the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the classroom as an appropriate and valuable educational medium for carrying out teaching and learning tasks. Additionally, the educational authorities must establish the conditions that make it possible to eliminate risk situations arising from the inappropriate use of ICT in the school environment, with special attention to situations of on-line violence. In accordance with the law, confidence and safety in the use of technologies must be fostered, paying special attention to the elimination of gender stereotypes that hinder the acquisition of digital skills under equal conditions.

The open educational resource network Procomún is intended for educational and learning uses, primarily by the teaching community and students, but also by the general public.

Currently, Procomún is a network of open educational resources (OER), where you can search, display and download learning objects in standard formats and with open licenses for use in pre-university education. It integrates a social network as a meeting point for the educational community, which facilitates interaction with other users, creating communities, sharing, valuing and disseminating all kinds of educational resources. At the same time, it incorporates semantic technology linking it to other similar digital networks (EuropeanaRedinedBiblioteca NacionalMuseo del PradoHispana and Dbpedia).

These OER are under open license (Creative Commons España), which allows free access, as well as their use, modification and redistribution by others without any restriction or with limited restrictions.

Meanwhile, the EDIA Project (Educational, Digital, Innovative and Open) of the National Centre for Curriculum Development in Non-Proprietary Systems (CEDEC) promotes and supports the creation of digital and methodological transformation dynamics in schools to improve student learning and promote new models for educational institutions.

EDIA offers a collection of educational content for primary education, among other educational levels. These open educational resources (OER) are curriculum-referenced and offer proposals for active methodologies and the promotion of digital competence in the classroom. The resources include all the templates, guides, rubrics and documents necessary to implement the didactic proposal in the classroom.

The OER are created with the eXeLearningauthoring tool, so that any teacher can access them to use them directly, but also download them and modify them according to their classroom context. The OER of the EDIA project have generated networks of teachers who discuss the use of resources and technology in the classroom. This virtual faculty constitutes a framework for experimentation to propose new educational content models that develop aspects such as accessibility and topics such as gender equality or digital citizenship.