Spain

General Information on Home Education in Spain

Home education is not illegal in Spain. However, it is also not legally recognised as a viable alternative to traditional schooling.

The Spanish Constitution in Article 27.1 states “Everyone has the right to education. Freedom of teaching is recognised.”

Hence, based on that education is compulsory, but schooling isn’t. However, the Spanish have decided that education must naturally be equal to school attendance.

For example, Article 27.5 says “The public authorities guarantee the right of everyone to education, though general education programming, with the effective participation of all parties concerned and the setting up of educational centres.”

All of the Education Laws that are based on the Constitution have adopted that very premise and quite clearly state that school attendance between the ages of 6 and 16 are compulsory.

In reality there are about 2000-4000 home-educating families in Spain. The vast majority of those lead their lives in peace. Some of the families who take a child out of school or discuss their educational choices with, for instance, their family doctor are reported to the authorities. In all cases social services have to follow up on those reports. As soon as it is clear that no case of truancy and/or abuse/negligence exists, many families are left alone to get on with their lives. In some cases social services pass on the cases to the courts.

Until December 2010 families ended up in criminal court being accused of child abuse. As clearly no such thing was taking place the families were generally acquitted. The cases were won based on Article 27.1 of the Constitution. Worse case scenario was an order to enroll the child at a school. In some instances even distance schools were acceptable.

In December 2010 one family who had previously been told to enroll their child at school went to the Constitutional Tribunal (CT) to have the prior ruling overruled. Unfortunately the CT is not a real court, but merely discusses the validity of Laws and Statues. It was found that the Educational Law that made school attendance between 6 and 16 compulsory was lawful and supported by the Constitution. However, the CT also stated that law changes that would make alternatives to traditional schooling legal would also be supported by the Constitution.

Since then legal proceedings have changed in Spain. Families are no longer tried just through the Criminal Court, but are now taken to Civil Courts and Voluntary Hearings. The Prosecution is taking advantage of the December verdict by the CT, which means that families can no longer argue that the Educational Laws are overruled by Article 27.1 of the Constitution.

However, the vast majority of families continue to live and learn undisturbed. Reports to the Authorities have not risen and although at least one case has since been lost, many others are still being acquitted on the premise that the children are receiving an adequate education and no truancy or neglect is taking place.

Note: Since 2009 within the autonomous region of Catalonia alternative education models such as distance schools have been legally recognised as a viable alternative to traditional brick and mortar schools. This breakthrough has been qualified by the expression “under exceptional circumstances”. Since the 2010 CT verdict some families within Catalonia have also encountered difficulties.

Associations and support groups

The main Spanish home education association is:

Asociación para la Libre Educación (ALE)
www.educacionlibre.org

The main association in the autonomous region of Catalonia is:

Educar en Familia (EeF)
educarenfamilia.org

A new group that focuses on diffusion and legal changes, not providing advice and exchanges between people
Plataforma de la libertad educativa secretaria@libertadeducativa.org

An online group focusing on life learning/autonomous learning/radical unschooling:

Crecer en Libertad (CeL)
www.crecerenlibertad.org

Local group for region of Valencia via Facebook:

Educacion en easa Valencia
www.facebook.com/groups/educacionencasavalencia

Online Yahoo! email group:

educacionlibre
es.groups.yahoo.com/group/educacionlibre

Blog by Madalen Goiria, Professor of Civil Rights focusing on the legal situation in Spain:

La opción de educar en casa
madalen.wordpress.com

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