Education in Barcelona

School system in Barcelona

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State education (Colegios Publicos) in Spain is free and compulsory from the age of 6 to 16. Schools are governed by a consortium led by city council with the curriculum determined by the Generalitat de Catalunya.

The language of instruction at public schools is Catalan, as stipulated by the 2009 Catalan Education Act. Spanish may be used as a language of instruction by teachers of Spanish literature or language, and foreign languages by teachers of those languages.

    Educations System Structure
  • Pre-school (Educación Infantil, segundo ciclo) - 3 to 6 years of age
  • Primary School (Educación Primaria) - 6 to 12 years of age
  • Compulsory Secondary Education (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria) - 12 to 16 years of age
  • Post-Compulsory Schooling (Bachillerato) - 16 to 18 years of age


The admission process begins in March for public schools. To register, parents go to the school of choice and fill out an application. You must show your child's ID and town hall registration certificate (empadronamiento). Two months later the Ministry of Education (Ministerio de Educación) publishes the lists of admitted students. This list will be exhibited on schools information board. If you arrive outside of the admission time in March, then you can apply at the local Education Council (Concejalía de Educación). The Council will admit your child to a limited choice of schools within 48 hrs.

School Terms

There is a three term system.

    Breaks occur:
  • Christmas break (December - January)
  • Easter break (one week - Semana Santa)
  • Summer break (mid-June to mid-September)

Elementary School

Educación Primaria, or primary school, takes place from 6 to 12 years of age.

    It consists of 3 cycles of 2 years each:
  • First cycle: 6-8 years
  • Second cycle: 8-10 years
  • Third cycle: 10-12 years

Secondary Education

The Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO) is the system that governs secondary school in Spain. This level prepares students for non-compulsory secondary school or for the workplace.

    It consists of 2 cycles of 2 academic years each (total 4 years):
  • lst Cycle (12 to 14 years of age)
  • 2nd Cycle (14 to 16 years of age)

Upon finishing this stage, the student may apply for:
Spanish Baccalaureate (post-compulsory diploma)
Vocational Training
Work (it is only possible to get a job from 16 onwards)

Spanish Baccalaureate (Bachillerato)

Spanish Bachillerato is an optional educational program available after age 16 (comparable to A Levels in the UK, the French Baccalaureate in France or the International Baccalaureate).

There are two parts:

    Core curriculum with the compulsory subjects:
  • Spanish Language and Literature: lst and 2nd years
  • Co-official language (in case of Catalan, Basque and Galician): lst and 2nd years
  • First foreign language (English, French, German or Italian; mostly English): lst and 2nd years
  • Philosophy: lst and 2nd years
  • Physical Education: Only lst year
  • Spanish History: Only 2nd year
  • Optional subject (2nd foreign language, psychology, information technology...): lst and 2nd year
  • Catholic Religion/All World Religions Studies: Only lst year (Optional)
    Specialist curriculum:
  • Arts - History of art, Volume (sculpture), Colors (painting)
  • Nature and Health Sciences - Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Sciences or Mathematics
  • Sciences & Engineering - Physics, Maths, Chemistry, Technical Drawing
  • Social Sciences - Applied Maths, Economics, Geography, World History (only lst year)
  • Humanities - Latin, Greek, History of Art/World Literature, World History (only 4th year)

Vocational Training

Vocational training is another option after ESO or after the Spanish Baccalaureate.

    There are several types of programs:
  • Middle Grade Training Cycles (Ciclos Formativos de Grado Medio) - must have an ESO diploma
  • Superior-level Training Cycles (Ciclos Formativos de grado Superior) - must have a Spanish Baccalaureate. After completing this cycle, students are entitled to direct entrance to several related University degrees.

Private School

There are private schools (escoles privades) and semi-private schools, many with a Roman Catholic affiliation. Each private school runs its own admission process.

Escoles concertades some schools receive a public subsidy on a per-student basis and are subject to inspection by the public authorities. These schools are required to follow the same curricular guidelines as public schools. Tuition is usually around €100 to €200.

Education costs vary from €150 to €1000 per month, depending on the school. Fees are highest for schools that offer boarding. Fees usually do not include registration, books, materials, laundry, insurance, extra-curricular activities, excursions, meals and transport (most private schools provide school buses).


Colegio Sil
Tel: 932 124 391
Private school set in an historic building on Avgda. del Tibidabo. Nursery, pre-school, primary and secondary school plus high school. Facilities for sports with center and swimming pool.

Europa International School
Address: Av. Pla del Vinyet 110, 08172 Sant Cugat del Valles
Tel: 935 898 420
Private, non-denominational, co-educational school and nursery school with children aged 12 months to 18. Spanish curriculum with option to study for Spanish Bachillerato.

St. Paul's School
Address: Av. Pearson 39-45, Barcelona
Tel: 932 030 500
Private school for children aged 3 to 18 years. Spanish curriculum with emphasis on English language. Wide range of extra-curricular activities.


Barcelona has a well-developed higher education system of public universities. The universities regulate access to their degrees and manage academic fees. They can also offer unofficial postgraduate degrees.

The normal duration for University courses is 4 years. Medical courses require 6 years or more. University studies have ECTS credits which are a measure of lessons. Normally, 60 ECTS are taken each year with each course comprised of 240 ECTS credits. Passing every subject, and getting the 240 ECTS credits, gives the right to obtaining an academic degree (Grado), architecture or engineering qualification.

Postgraduate courses include Master's degrees (Máster), and Doctoral degrees (Doctorado).


Along with an excellent education and research community, Spain has a great library system. There are many libraries throughout (Spain).

National Library of Catalonia (Biblioteca de Catalunya) - The mission of the Library of Catalonia is to collect, preserve, and spread Catalonian bibliographic items. It currently ohas three million items.

Update 17/10/2011


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