A chart to assist teachers to compare easily each level of English and Spanish Educational Systems

In the recent years, there has beeneducationspain a flood of young people moving from their places of origin to countries offering better alternatives of life. The goal of this migration is basically due to three major topics: educational, work and/or language reasons. Included in all of these aspects is experience, which comes out of all three factors. Of course, there are always very enterprising people wanting to see the world, but I dare say that for most of us, it is the lack of opportunities and the low value placed on us in our countries, which pushes us to go out. A kind of feeling of accumulating certificates that seem to have lost any validity. However, you dare to get out and people are amazed with your training, they respect it.

Nevertheless, Let’s not fool ourselves, it is not as easy as to pull something off at the first attempt. Progress requires effort, hard work and more hard work. Some of this work begins to enhance your professional knowledge of where you have migrated to. Although it is true that it seems that here they recognize your training and give you the corresponding validation for your certificates, let’s be honest, you do not feel competent at first. And I’m not just referring to the language, a real barrier, but I won’t talk about it on this post.

The thing about our profession, being teachers, is that we can have a deep understanding of education from our country. You may have a great mastery of your National Curriculum and the Spanish legislation, but when you come to England…What do you know of their curriculum? What do you know of their priorities? What are their objetives? What are the concerns in school and what worries them here? and What about the law? Perhaps, all these questions overwhelm you, make you feel small. You have to start from zero. However, it isn’t like that, trust me. We are competent and capable. We have valuable experience, although we still need to research in order to clarify some of our ideas. But how do I know what I need to research? Well, because I am of theses teachers who have decided to have a try in England, I will use my experience to advise you what I consider important, as I would have appreciated someone explaining to me before arriving.

One of the first things we need to know are the names of any stages of education in England in comparison with Spain. Why? because get confuse in a interview denotes ignorance of the topic, ignorance is associated with a lack of proficiency and no boss likes hiring incompetent staff. In other words, imagine you are in an interview for a position as a teacher in Year 2. The interviewer ask you what will you do. As a teacher, we know how important is to know our student ages to adapt our content, objetives and activities. Well, Year 2 is known as 1º de Primaria in Spain. It is clear now, right?

The next chart assists in comparing easily English and Spanish Educational Systems. Its shows the journey from kindergarten to high school. The English system is shown on the left and the Spanish on the right. Each colors correspond to a similar level.

Chart Stage Eng-Spa

I would like to emphasize some points and provide more data in order to complement the information:

First of all, Compulsory Education begins at 5 years old in England, although it is possible to homeschool. In Spain it is at 6, but the reality is that almost all children are in school at the age of 3. On the other hand, compulsory education ends at age of 16 in both. In England it is required to continue taking some type os studies until 18, although the teenager can be working.

Reception, also known as Foundation, is the educational stage with the least resemblance. The biggest difference to me is Foundation 1 (pre-school), which corresponds to Educación Infantil 3 años. The reason is because in England it is frequently taught by non teaching staff, when in Spain must be taught by qualified teachers.

Primary Education expands itself a year in Spain, reducing in one academic year the time spent  by Spanish students in high school.

At the end of Secondary School there are important exams in order to graduate in both countries . Those exams are known as GCSE in England.

The Sixth Form and Bachillerato occupy two academic years with important exams at the end. In England these tests are known as A Levels (Advance Levels). There is a big difference in the educational structure at this level. In Spain are two full-time academic courses in high school and with an average of 8 subjects. However, in England it is a specialization of a 3 subjects in line with the university career that they will take and are part time self-study.

In the case of opting for vocational training or formación profesional, students will be referred to other centers in the same manner as in England, where are called FE College.

NOTE: a bachelor and bachiller are not the same. The first one means that you have a degree at University!

Ainoa Cano.