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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Teaching and learning in vocational upper secondary education


6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.8Teaching and learning in vocational 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), assessment criteria and learning outcomes.

The Administration, through the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports (MEFD), after consulting the  autonomous communities, establishes the basic curriculum (compulsory minimum teaching throughout the country in terms of objectives, competences, content, assessment criteria and learning outcomes) in order to ensure common education for all pupils. 

The educational authorities of the autonomous communities establish the curriculum in their respective administration spheres, in compliance with the rules that regulate the different vocational training programmes. In any case, the extension and development of the basic curriculum, established by the Government, must refer to the qualifications and units of competence of the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications  (CNCP) included in the corresponding studies.

The curriculum of vocational training education is organised into successive levels of concretion, which  progressively adapt to the specificities of the school environment and the students who attend it. For this reason, educational institutions also play an active role in implementing the curriculum in accordance with the characteristics and expectations of the students, with special attention to the needs of those with disabilities. They also take into account the training possibilities offered by their surrounding area, especially when it comes to the work placement vocational module. Along these lines, 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 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.


In higher secondary vocational education, vocational training corresponds to:

  1. Basic Vocational Training Cycles;
  2. Intermediate Vocational Training Cycles

Currently, there are 34 basic vocational training qualifications belonging to 19 occupational families and 62 intermediate vocational training qualifications belonging to 25 occupational families (Source: todo FP).

Vocational training qualifications have the following characteristics:

  • They correspond to the training cycles established in Organic Law 2/2006 of 3 May on Education (LOE) as amended by Organic Law 3/2020 (LOMLOE). 
  • Each vocational family groups together various training cycles.
  • It comprises a set of training cycles organised into areas (basic vocational training) or modules (intermediate vocational training), of variable duration and with theoretical and practical contents appropriate to the different professional fields in which they are integrated.
  • The different training cycles refer to the CNCP.


Basic vocational training

The basic level training cycles are aimed preferably at those who have the greatest possibilities of learning and achieving the competences of compulsory secondary education in an environment linked to the professional world, taking care to avoid the segregation of students for socio-economic or other reasons, with the purpose of preparing them for the continuation of their training. According to Organic Law 3/2022 on the Organisation and Integration of Vocational Training (LOOIFP), basic level training cycles are, in general, those linked to level 1 competence standards of the National Catalogue of Professional Competence Standards.

The basic level training cycles include three areas and one project: 

  • Communication and Social Sciences area, which includes the following subjects:
    • Spanish Language;
    • Foreign Language for Professional Initiation;
    • Social Sciences;
    • Co-official language, in the territories where it corresponds.
  • Applied Sciences, with the following subjects:
    • Applied Mathematics;
    • Applied Sciences.
  • Professional Field, which will include at least the training necessary to obtain a Grade C professional certificate linked to level 1 competence standards in the National Catalogue of Professional Competence Standards.

In addition, other teaching that contributes to the development of skills in Compulsory Secondary Education may also be included.

All training cycles are developed, on a dual basis, between the training centre and the company, including an in-company training phase.

The pedagogical criteria with which the training programmes of these cycles are developed are adapted to the specific characteristics of the students, preferably adopting an organisation of the curriculum by collaborative learning projects from an applied perspective, and encourage the development of social and emotional skills, teamwork and the use of information and communication technologies.  

Intermediate vocational training

According to Organic Law 3/2022 on the Organisation and Integration of Vocational Training (LOOIFP), intermediate level training cycles are those linked to level 2 competence standards of the National Catalogue of Professional Competence Standards.

The curricular contents of the training cycles are organised into different types of vocational modules:

  • vocational training modules of the Modular Catalogue of Vocational Training associated to the professional competence standards;
  • modules associated with transversal skills and abilities, labour orientation and entrepreneurship relevant to the knowledge of the productive sectors and professional maturity;
  • At least one intermodular project, to be developed throughout the courses in the cycle.
  • optional vocational training modules that provide greater flexibility in the configuration and adaptability of the training provision, in order to cover the diversity of the productive reality in the corresponding territory and the personal interests and motivations in the construction of each training and vocational itinerary, allowing for a more in-depth study of certain elements of the training cycle.

The corresponding Administrations determine the optional professional modules that provide a greater depth in the development of transversal competences such as: in-depth study in digitalisation applied to the industry; in-depth study in business initiative and entrepreneurship; foreign languages and in-depth study in sustainable development applied to the industry, or that provide general training complements to facilitate the monitoring of the individual training itinerary such as, among others, increasing humanistic knowledge, increasing scientific-technical knowledge, or social skills.

Educational administrations may also:

  • Incorporate, while respecting the basic curriculum, optional complementary modules linked to further training in the competences of the training cycle or to the acquisition of additional competences which, by complementing the training, allow a broader professional profile to be acquired, either during the period of training provided in the educational institution or in the company. The duration of the training may, in this case, be extended within the framework of what is laid down in the relevant basic regulations. These curricular extensions do not modify the diploma and may only lead to its complementary certification by the appropriate administration.
  • To authorise, upon proposal from the vocational training institutions and in the context of agreements between the latter and universities, jointly designed optional modules that facilitate the progression of the training itineraries of those students who wish to progress from vocational training to university studies.

Within the framework of the basic elements of the curriculum of each qualification and the modular organisation of vocational training cycles, educational administrations promote flexibility and specialisation in their training provision with the aim of promoting innovation and employability.

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 general strategy for the methodology of vocational training is the design and development of innovative methodologies that have an impact on the quality and impact of these programmes. These methodologies promote the skills associated with innovation by applying, through projects, inclusive and innovative methodologies close to the work reality which encourage training linked to initiative and creativity in new situations.

The MEFD establishes the methodological principles that must guide the teaching practice in vocational training. They feature the following characteristics:

  • Educational activities in vocational training must be adapted to the specific characteristics of the students, adopting an organisation of the curriculum from an applied perspective.
  • Special attention must be paid to students with specific educational support needs, maintaining educational inclusion as one of the principles of these programmes. To this end, the organisational and methodological alternatives and measures to cater for diversity must be established, using the principles of Universal Design for Learning, in order to facilitate these students' access to the curriculum.
  • It must be guaranteed that students acquire skills related to digitalisation, career management, innovation, entrepreneurship, technological versatility, knowledge and professional project management, commitment to sustainable development and the prevention of occupational and environmental risks, and professional responsibility.

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 prior authorisation of the educational 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.

Students and their families pay for textbooks and school materials. However, the MEFP 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. Here you can access the agreement and distribution for the year 2023.

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

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.

Additionally, vocational training can be provided in face-to-face, blended, virtual or blended modalities, favouring the use of new technologies during the teaching-learning process.

La red de recursos educativos en abierto Procomún está destinada a usos educativos y de aprendizaje, fundamentalmente por parte de la comunidad docente y el alumnado, pero también por el público en general.

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 (Europeana, Redined, National Library, Prado Museum, Hispana y 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 eXeLearning, authoring 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.

Dual nature of Vocational Training

According to Organic Law 3/2022 on the Organisation and Integration of Vocational Training (LOOIFP), all vocational training provision aimed at obtaining a professional certificate (Grade C), a Training Cycle (Grade D) or a specialisation course (Grade E) is dual in nature, incorporating a training phase in a company or similar organisation. The dual nature of Vocational Training will be developed by means of an appropriate distribution of the training processes between the vocational training institutions and the companies or equivalent bodies, both contributing to the achievement of the competences established in each training offer.  However, the training provision aimed at partial competence accreditation (Grade A) or competence certification (Grade B) may or may not have this dual nature, depending on the characteristics of each training course.

The in-company training phase will last at least 25 % of the total planned duration of the training and must take place in one or more public or private companies or similar bodies belonging to the production or service sector relevant to the training.