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Spain - Preprimary & Primary Education

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceSpain - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education


The first legislation on primary education in modern contemporary Spain appears in the Constitution of 1812. It is mentioned but not discussed in detail. The first real discussion of primary education with the context of a total educational system is found in the Moyano Law of 1857. According to this law or educational act, elementary schooling was to be compulsory and free. This law also established the foundations for private education in Spain, which at the time were mainly Catholic Schools.

During the years 1874 to 1923, the time of the Spanish Restoration and the Dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera, a series of educational reforms were established in Spain but they did not change the fundamental character of Primary Education as established by the Moyano Law of 1857.

Some of the most important changes to primary education came with the establishment of the Second Republic in 1931. During this time, the single school unit, together with compulsory and free primary education, was established. Other important changes during this time regarded the use of regional languages as languages of instruction and the non-compulsory teaching of religion.

From the end of the Spanish Civil War until the 1970s, especially with the death of Franco, one of the principal functions of primary education was the teaching of Francoist ideology of "national Catholicism." Important educational legislation was enacted in 1945 (The Primary Education Act of 1945) and in 1953 with the Educational Establishment Law. According to the latter, the Spanish Educational system was organized into two different systems. The first was a system of primary education for students aged 6 to 13 years, who terminated their studies at age 13. The second system was organized around primary education from 6 to 9 years of age, which was followed by secondary education from the ages of 10 to 17. The later was designated as the group that would have access to higher education.

This system was significantly altered by the General Education Law of 1970 (LGE), which reorganized the entire educational system for the first time since the Moyano Law of 1857. According to this legislation, general education was to be universal and compulsory (full schooling) for students between 6 and 14 years. It was organized around general basic education (EGB) and was made up of both primary and secondary education. This legislation was again reformed in 1990 by the creation of the Organic Law on the General Organization of the Educational System (LOGSE). This law stipulated that both primary and secondary education (ESO) were to be free and compulsory. Furthermore, this law provided for a new level of instruction for students in primary education between the ages of 6 and 12 years.

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