School Hours in Spain: A Guide to the Spanish School System

Written by BFIS Staff

Are you moving to Spain and wondering about the school system? Are you a parent trying to understand the schedule for your child’s education? In this article, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about school hours in Spain.

The Spanish Education System

Before we dive into the details of school hours, let’s start by giving you an overview of the Spanish educational system. In Spain, education is compulsory from the age of 6 to 16. There are three main stages of education:

  • Early Childhood Education (Educación Infantil): This stage is for children between the ages of 0-6 years old.
  • Primary or Elementary Education (Educación Primaria): This stage is for children between the ages of 6-12 years old.
  • Secondary Education (Educación Secundaria): This stage is for children between the ages of 12-16 years old.
  • After completing secondary education, students can continue with upper secondary education (Bachillerato) or vocational training (Formación Profesional).

Here is a comparison of the educational system stages in different countries. (click on the image to download the pdf).

Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education in Spain is not mandatory, but it is widely available. The schedule for Early Childhood Education can vary depending on the school and the age of the child. Typically, children attend for three hours in the morning or afternoon. Some schools may offer a full-day option with a longer schedule.

Elementary Education

Primary or Elementary Education in Spain is mandatory. It usually starts at 9:00 a.m. and in public schools ends at 2:00 p.m. with a break around midday. In semi-public schools (colegios concertados) they extend the school day until 4:30 or 5:00 pm with a longer break for lunch. Many schools offer lunch service but students can also op to be dismissed and go home for lunch. Some schools may offer extracurricular activities in the afternoon. In private schools they also dismiss students between 4:30 and 5:00 pm 

Secondary Education

In the lower grades of Secondary (from grades 7-10) the school schedule is very similar to the Elementary education schedule, starting around 9:00 am and extending the school hours until 4:30 or 5:00 pm with a longer break for lunch. Many schools also offer extracurricular activities in the afternoon. Secondary education is mandatory for all children that is why in Spain is called ESO (Enseñanza Secundaria Obligatoria/ Mandatory Secondary Education)

High School Education

In Spain, high school is not mandatory and it includes the two last years of school education (grades 11 and 12 in the American system). In Spain it is called Bachillerato, and usually starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 2:00 p.m. There may be a break in the morning, and some schools may offer extracurricular activities in the afternoon.

When Does School Start in Spain?

Schools in Spain usually start the second week of September and end in mid-June, with breaks for Christmas, Easter, and other national and regional holidays. However, the exact dates can vary depending on the region and school.

The Spanish School System

The Spanish school system is known for its quality education and emphasis on language learning. Spanish is the main language of instruction, but many schools also offer bilingual education in Spanish and English. In Catalonia, Catalan language is a mandatory subject until Grade 10 for students holding a Spanish passport . The curriculum includes subjects such as mathematics, science, history, and geography, as well as physical education and art.


In conclusion, the school hours in Spain vary depending on the stage of education. Early Childhood Education has a flexible schedule, while Primary and Secondary Education have more fixed schedules. High school is part of the Secondary Education stage and has the same schedule. The school year in Spain usually starts in mid-September and ends in mid-June. We hope this guide has provided you with helpful information about the Spanish school system. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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