First let me start by saying that we have a limited source of data for this post. It is just our opinion and Comparison of the 1 Primary School we attended in USA and the 1 Primary School we are attending in Spain. This is by no means meant to generalize for a country or even a city/district.
These are just the things we have personally experienced or observed in our own little Wagoner Bubble, with the Spain education system compared to US! 🙂
If you are living or have lived in Spain with kids in public school, please share your observations as well.
Update October 2017: We moved to Spain in August of 2012 and at the time our kids were in 3rd and 5th grades. They have remained in the public school system and are both in high school. Though there are many difference with primary school and high school in Spain, we didn’t add it to this post. Instead we have provided our knowledge of the Spanish education system, including private and international schooling options, in our ebook about Education in Spain. Read more here.
Here is a basic comparison chart of Education in Spain vs USA
|USA – NC|
(ONE Public International Baccalaureate Magnet School)
|Spain – Andalucía Region|
(ONE Public State School)
|Cafeteria||Located in school and kids can buy lunch.||Kids bring their own snack, no cafeteria.|
|Daily Agenda||Weekly newsletter from teacher with weeks upcoming activates and homework assignments. Teachers are open to email communications with parents.||An agenda/book for the entire school calendar with all holidays and breaks outlined, as well as each trimester and exam scores. Each day the kids write down their homework assignments in the book. This is also the means for parents/teachers to communicate.|
|Daily Class Schedule||The same subjects each day with rotating electives/specials (Music, PE, Spanish, Science, Technology, and Art)||Each day has different subjects, but it is the same on a weekly schedule. There is an exam for each subject every 18 school days.|
|Homework||Monday – Thursday ~ 20-30 min||Monday – Friday 1-2 hrs. Each day and over weekends and holidays too.|
|Hours||8:30 – 3:00 with Lunch||9:00 – 2:00 with 30 min snack/recess.|
|Recess||Teachers monitor kids on the playground.||Teachers are on playground with kids; they gather together, talk/text on phones and have smoking breaks near the school gate.|
|Religion||Not taught in public schools.||Taught in public school, with option for parent to choose if student attends that topic.|
|Resources (Parental)||There appears to be much more parental involvement in the running of ancillary school functions (teacher/office assistants, PTA, etc.).||While there is a PTA here (it’s called APA in several areas), there appears to be less effort in bringing in new parents, fewer sponsored activities, much less in the way of fund-raising.|
|Resources (School)||More school sponsored activities, curricula, and equipment.||Fewer activities and classes. School infrastructure is more dated. Class environments are more barren (lack of posters, in-class activity stations, etc.). Lack of heating and air conditioning.|
|School Bus||Typical yellow school bus in any state.||More of a greyhound type bus, with a sign in the front window “school bus”.|
|School Security||Must sign in office to enter school during school hours. Playground is open to parking lot etc. Drop off and Pick up outside of front office. Parent can walk the child to class if desired.||School is behind tall walls and locked gate during school hours. Must buzz in to visit office during hours. No parents beyond gate at morning drop off, but may enter 5 min prior to school end for pick up.|
|School Size||K-5, approx. 6 classes of 22+ for each grade. (over 800 students)||K-6, approx. 1-2 classes of 22 for each grade. (under 200 students)|
|School Supplies||There is a good list of supplies that children must bring with them to school. (Paper, pens, pencils, folders, etc.)||The list for Spain is very similar with the addition of Toilet Paper and Paper Towels. Apparently with many budget cuts this is not supplied by the school.|
|Second Language||Spanish taught from K-6||English taught from K-6|
|Student Addressing Teacher||Ms./Mr./Mrs. Last Name.||First name only.|
|Students Behavior||Kids are kids, but well-mannered for the most part. The occasional bully, but not tolerated.||Kids are kids, but it does seem there is a bit more bullying tolerated than we are used to. Not overly common, but there are a few.|
|Teachers Emotions||Professionalism maintained and kids are none the wiser of any frustrations, likes or dislikes of the Teacher.||Hearts are on the sleeves. No problem expressing frustration, rolling of eyes, even yelling at the kids. Teachers yell at students.|
|Teachers Passion||Very passionate and care for the children and their education.||Very passionate and care for the children and their education. Of the teachers we currently have, they are very dedicated and good teachers.|
|Tutor||Assistance is available for English as Second Language Students.||All non-Spanish speaking students are provided a language tutor, if school requests.|
What do you think about the comparison of primary school in USA and Spain?
There are also several similarities between Spanish and American schools. For example; there are separate class rooms per grade, with a teacher instructing. The school day usually consists of various subjects, with breaks or recess. When it comes to numbers, well they are still numbers. We will say the long division in Spain is done a little different from what we were used to in the US, but it is still division.
Do you want to know more about Education System in Spain?
If you are looking for more in depth information on the education system in Spain vs USA, we have more information available for you. We cover the different types of schooling options in Spain for primary, public schools, private schools and more. Check out our Education in Spain ebook, where we explain all of the education options from preschool through high school. Read more about the book here