Kids running to school
Education in Spain is compulsory from ages 6-16. In Catalunya all state education is in Catalan; in these schools, Castillian is taught as a foreign language. Parents pay for books and materials. State schools do not have uniforms. Religious education (mostly Catholicism) is always offered, but students may opt out if they wish. The educational system in Catalunya includes three types of schools and four main levels.
The three types of school are:
Publico (State) - these schools are free
Privado (Private) - these schools do not receive any funding, and include international schools.
Concertado (Semi-private) - these schools receive state grants and are significantly cheaper than private schools.
3-6 Infant education (Educación Infantil)
Infant education is not obligatory, although over 90% of children of three and over do attend school. The timetable is usually 9-12.30 with a break for lunch, then 3.30-4.30. Some schools may allow children to attend mornings only during the first year. Much of the time will be spent playing, although reading and writing is introduced at around four years.
6-12 Primary education (Educación primaria)
Primary education is divided into three cycles, each lasting two-years. The curriculum offers a wide range of subjects, including English. There are no official exams as such, but a child may be held back for a year if they have not kept up with the rest of the class.
12-16 Secondary education (Educación secundaria obligatoria - ESO)
ESO is dvided into two cycles of two years. Children are taught in mixed ability classes and must repeat years if they haven't progressed enough.
The two-year Bachillerato is non-compulsory. There are five types of Bachillerato: Arts, Natural and Health Sciences, Science and Engineering, Social Sciences and Humanities. Examinations are taken in the May of the second year. Those students wishing to go on to Higher Education take a general university entrance exam in June. The result of this exam along with their Bachillerato result will determine which university course they are able to enrol on.