What I’ve learned about the Spanish education system

Monica and Elena

Stages of education:
1. nursery 0-3 (optional and not free)
3-6 compulsory (free)

2. Primary education. 6-12 yo split into three sections, two years each

3. Secondary education 12-16, split into two main stages, two years each. Graduate with elementary Education certificate. Study 9-10 subjects if fail two or more subjects in a year they must repeat the whole year.

4. Non compulsory secondary education 16-18. Students study in one of three main bands – social sciences, science and technology or arts.

Languages taught, English, french and German. English is compulsory from primary onwards.

University entrance – take five exams over three days for entrance to university ,selectividad’. Combined with results form exams taken at end of non compulsory secondary education.

Teaching in Spain
Primary – take a teaching degree, secondary, has a focus on one subject for first degree and then masters in Education.
Need to take a final qualification for teaching.
Work 25 teaching hours €1700 per month, secondary slightly better paid and fewer hours.

Use of ICT: Few schools with interactive whiteboards. Project in Madrid to pay for new technologies now in progress.

Languages: Some bilingual schools, has native speaker support as teaching assistants.

Due to the economic crisis – there are less teachers and so they have had their hours increased, teachers have protested, but people think they have long holidays and think they work only 21 hours a week.

Monica and Elena will be English teachers and should be able to find jobs as there is a great concern and push towards bilingual schools and teaching English, but in general the system is difficult.

University of Alcalá
Funded in 1499 located about an hour from Madrid. 29k students, 2.2k staff, wide variety of degrees taught. Birthplace of Miguel Cervantes (Don Quixote), annual prize for literature is very famous in Spain.


What I’ve learned about the Turkish education system

Ece and Charlie

Students from science education system present their view of Turkish system

School system
Pre-school 3-5 years
Primary – 8 years, compulsory 6-14, graduate with primary
Entrance exam for secondary school at end of primary school (14)
Secondary Education is not compulsory, and lasts four years (14-18)
Focus on science for all, physics, chemistry, biology compulsory to 18
Assessment is by exam, with different types of questions and portfolio of work assessed by teachers.
Higher education can be two or four years beyond secondary. Students take national test to enter University.

Teacher education
National committee preparers the curriculum for teacher education, includes subject knowledge, general knowledge, pedagogical knowledge.
Primary teacher Education – 4 year course. Includes recent research, teaching practice.
Secondary training takes a year longer.

Teachers teach 50% of the time, 50% reflection and work. Teachers work 22 hours per week contact time, €1000 per month is average salary.


Diary from Slovakia day 10

Wednesday, April 25rd

Grammar School of Ladislava

Videoconference – Oil spills and dispersants

We watched some sixth form students engage in a video conference with a set of experts from Comenius University on oil dispersants. The students we’re arranged in two big groups in the room, with a web camera trained on each of the groups, the university staff had a web cam in their office. They shared PowerPoint slides and videos whilst discussing their differing views and evidence on the use of dispersants (detergents) to get rid of crude oil spills in the ocean. The videoconference was conducted using Adobe Connect software. The students had an opportunity to ask questions at the end, although they told us afterwards that the university staff didn’t hear them properly and so they didn’t really answer the questions they asked them.

Whilst the use of the software was interesting, and a good case study, it did seem rather unnecessary as we knew the room that the university experts were in is about a 15 minute walk away from the school….



Diary from Slovakia day 9

Tuesday, April 24nd

Grammar School Ladislava Saru

We were met by two final year students and escorted throughout the morning by them . They were very self assured, poised intelligent young women with an amazing fluency in English.

Children aged 11-19 at Grammar School. First lesson at 7.30 sometimes start with the second lesson at 8.20.

No assemblies in Slovak schools, breaks are just those 10 minutes between lessons.

Geography lesson
20 children, 15 yo. Using smart board clickers for voting on smart board . Teacher registers all handsets at the beginning. Voting software shows students still left to vote so teacher can ask them by name to submit their answer. Teacher starts with general quiz on Scandinavian countries, flags, places, features. Answers are not shown as the quiz professes but at the end a bar chart shows how many each student got right. Looks like this was a test on previous knowledge, as handsets are put away once test is complete and move onto a new topic.

Students present PowerPoint presentations on different countries. Starting with Italy. Teacher adds additional questions, asking students in audience about the facts presented. Then students complete a work book on geography which has partially completed map of Italy, children add in new details, labelling seas, cities, islands. Children are also making their own notes in another book.

Chemistry lesson
23 students 18-19 years old, revision and preparation for matriculation exam
to enter university. Biochemistry, amino acid structure, primary secondary and tertiary structure. This teacher was involved in writing the lesson plans that went with the digital content we saw yesterday. Using it in this lesson to illustrate points, show diagrams, 3D models. Uses whiteboard functions to highlight and draw on structural diagrams for further explanation. All students taking handwritten notes. A student wifi network is available.

Teacher uses a combination of demonstration, questioning and quizzes on the whiteboard to teach. All students have notes from other lessons or studying they have completed. Teachers uses one of the students scarves to demonstrate primary, secondary and tertiary structure in the thread, fringe and weave of the scarf. And shows Paganini the violinist who had a collagen mutation (fibromyalgia ?) that meant his fingers were deformed and bent but that it made it easier for him to play the violin. Shows video on how keratin structure changes application of heat and how it makes curly hair and how perming works.

meeting with head teacher
We had the opportunity to discuss education with he head teacher of he school. I asked what his biggest problem in education was and he said it was access to technology and suitable Slovak content. They also had problems with their wifi network which could not support more than a class online to connect at once. He realised that wired connections would be more effective but they needed an IT technician to run it and they were difficult to find and to fund.

He said a good teachers was one that he a good relationship with their students and did not forget what it was like to be a student themselves. They kept learning throughout their career and should not be afraid that students knew more these them. His answer really showed that respect for students was of paramount importance.

Edulab lesson
We followed a class to edulab where they had a lesson on biology using he net books and the teacher lead using the interactive whiteboard.

Comenius university
Visit to main building of the university in town to see he Rector office, graduation hall. Built in 1919, in art deco style. First university in Slovakia after first world war.

Telepresence demonstration. Cisco Video conferencing suite €30k. Three large screens, three cameras, set up so that mirroring is complete, we how up in same relative space to people in the other suite. met with colleague in Technicka University v kosiciach. He works on network communication systems, teach some Cisco employees by telepresence. Very natural system, even the tables in our two rooms match so that it feels like we are sitting around the same table. Can have up to four locations in one place at one time. Video of the demo.


Diary from Slovakia day 8

Monday 23 April

In the middle of the old town, Edulab is a space to show case digital technologies in teaching. Very funky, white and lime green everywhere, Asus all in one PCs, very advanced looking SmartBoard, connected visualiser. Moveable desks, flexible space, set of Asus net books available.

View of digital Education environment requires three components: content, infrastructure, skills. Providing skills and content here for Slovak teachers, and directly to students and children. Wider missions to create life long learning for families, schools and enterprises. Have created two portals, one for teachers with content, one for wider public and children.

Naučteviac.sk (teacher portal)
40 k digital objects for reuse and remix. Some complete lessons. Available for students to use and work at home, for flipped lessons. created a series of text books (physical copies with workbooks for students) and lesson plans with digital links and content.

This is a subscription service, sponsored and subsidised by companies : agemsoft, and publisher, planéta vedomosti – digital curriculum (digitalne kurikulum).

Portal is subdivided by subject and national curriculum levels. Content was created in English by publisher and adapted into Slovak : planéta vedomosti. Copyright material licensed to them through portal.The group are working towards getting this content licensed nationally and shared as a national program so that remixed work can be shared nationally and within the EU.

Can remix content to create own lessons and save for presentations. Can add in own content, ppt, photos, audio. When in display mode, has SmartBoard type options available (drawing, highlighting) so if teacher is using data projector can still have some of those facilities recorded. Can add own sound, can then deliver to the students through the student portal. Possible to assign different lessons to different students. VLE environment, has tracking for assessment show in time spent, hints used, results by each student.

There is a lack of materials for teachers in Slovak, many teachers do not speak english well enough to use English resources that are available for free.

Different material available for nursery teaching and special needs. From edusenus. Some can be used by voice activation through a microphone.

We were shown examples of the tests used by psychologists on all children at the end of kindergarten that children must pass to gain entry to school at 6 years old. Have put these tests online as they are trying to nationalise a software test to make it more consistent and more objective.

Photos from the day at http://guitarman.sk/Student_17_04_2012.zip





Diary from Slovakia – weekend in Budapest

We had thought that we would go to Vienna this weekend but once we discovered that Hannah and Elina, our colleagues from Finland were going to stay in Vienna next weekend, as they were flying back from Vienna and so had planned to go to Budapest this weekend, we decided to join them.

They went ahead on Friday night but stayed to go the Slovak national ballet to see Swan lake. It was a wonderful evening, the new theatre was very modern and sleek and a perfect plain setting for the rich traditional costumes of Swan lake. There was a full house and it was a brilliant atmosphere with several curtain calls at the end of each act. The orchestra and dancers wee amazing and the Odette/ Odile dancer in particular was stunning, so effortless and fluid.

We got the train from Bratislava main station, only 15 minutes by bus from our hotel. The journey was great, we had our own compartment which we shared with two American students who were studying in Paris and had come to Budapest and then Bratislava for a few days. The countryside was green with lots of little villages on he way, a lake a few castles and plenty of farm land.

We walked from the station to our hotel – an EasyHotel (think orange!) that Helen had found which was perfectly located for getting around the city. We met up with Hannah and Elina and walked through the city, over the Danube and on the funicular up to the palace for an incredible view over the city. The city is incredibly beautiful, with amazing architecture everywhere you look. Wide boulevards and buildings on a huge scale, sweeping views and a wonderful open feel make the city stunning.

We had dinner in a great jewish cafe with a live pianist, Spinoza, in he Jewish quarter not far from the largest Synagog I’ve ever seen. I had clear goose soup with matzo balls, classic beef Hungarian goulash with pickles and spatzle and a fabulous apple strudel.

On Sunday we went to the Terror museum, which was based in the former communist party headquarters, and the scene of terrible torture and death during the communist rule after the second world war. it was a harrowing period of history about which I knew very little but will definitely try I find out more about.

Afterwards we walked up to a huge park, had lunch and then walked around the thermal spas. We ended up not going in the spa as it looked really municipal and pretty packed on he weekend! One for more research to find a good one for another time.

















What I’ve learned about the Finnish education system from my fellow students

We have two literature students from Finland that are training to teach in secondary schools with us in Slovakia. We have been discussing our own education systems with each other and this is what I have found out so far about their system:

Finland is a small country, 5 million people, 3000 schools
All Education is free, including meals
Students are paid to go to university €500 a month
The degree courses are longer, and teachers study at masters level, our two students were in their 5th year of studying at university
You need to take an exam to get into university which is different from the A-levels you take.
Children start school much later, at 6/7. Some go to preschool for one or two years before, this is becoming more common.
Teachers are trained in specialist training schools that are different from regular schools.

The school day is typically 7am – 1pm
There is a focus on student talk and group work above teacher talk, with a good lesson having more student than teacher talk.
Children are not good at raising their hands in class

Hanna and Elina
Finland has several universities, more than you might expect for such a small population but not all teach all subjects.
University of Helsinki is where Elina and Hanna study. Helsinki is the oldest university, established in 1640, in Turku, but was burned down and moved in 1829 to Helsinki (along with the capital), as this was closer to Russia, and further from Sweden. Two official languages, Finnish and Sweden. University has 35k students, 11 faculties and ranked in the top 100 universities world wide.

Education system
Free through to Higher Educaiton. Free books, school lunch. Even private schools are not allowed to charge.
Preschool is run by kindergarten, free or very low cost, closer to our form of daycare. Starts around 2 years old.
9 year compulsory basic comprehensive school for everyone starts at age 7 to 16.
After comprehensive school students apply for either lukio (preparation for HE) or vocational school. need a minimum grade qualification to enter the Lukio, some are basically selective, with high grades (scales form 4-10, some may require grade 9 but generally need a grade 7 to get to HE prep school). Some lukio may specialise in arts or other subjects. Can still apply for Univeristy from vocational schools. Around 50% go to each school, fairly equal can get into work more quickly.

Comprehensive school
– two phases 7-12 and 13-16. No standardised testing, even at the end of school. Purely based on teacher assessment.

Take 75 study points, can be done over 3 or 4 years. Study all the subjects, cannot focus on social science or something else, everyone does everything! Do choose particular subjects to study in depth.

Matriculation examination at the end of comprehensive school is a minimum of 4 subjects. The only standardised test, Finnish and literature is the compulsory subject. Get bonus points from these exams for university entrance but not worth a lot in relation to the university entrance exam which is more important.

Vocational school
Usually 3 years, gives you a profession, includes more general subject knowledge too, maths, Finnish. Extra subjects are dependent on the vocation, so travel agents would study languages.

University entrance exam
HE can take a long time, Hanna is still studying and will be 28 when she graduates

Teacher training
Primary teachers have a five year degree, masters in educational sciences.
High school teachers have a masters degree in their sect then educational sciences as a one year programme in addition. Separation application process for teacher training, lots of competition to get in. Can be taken as part of your degree, or after following graduation having worked for a few years (like UK PGCE).

Works on study points, need 300 to graduate. Can take different amounts of points per year, so students often work while studying, and take longer to graduate.

Teaching system
Teachers have a lot of freedom, mo inspections, national curriculum leaves room for creativity
Salary is over the average income in the county 2010 €3550, starting salary €2400 per month for primary teachers, €2800 secondary teachers. Extra money for marking matriculation exams, can be a class leader for extra money €100/ month.
16-18 hours teaching per week minimum, but lots of marking outside that. Primary school 25 teaching hours per week.
Teacher’s well appreciated in society, usually in the top ten of wanted jobs. But still at least 30% drop out rate from teaching, mainly due to responsibility, demands and problems with disciplines are the key reasons that people leave.
Demanding job with a lot of responsibility and commitment is important.

The students feel that the PISA results are due to a culture of equality, and that all schools are the same everywhere, all teachers are well trained. There is a long history of social democracy after the civil war.

Being a teacher involves:
Planning lessons, teaching, assessing, being a class leader, cooperation with students parents, working with colleagues. Important focus on self development and learning new techniques continuously. Class leader is the equivalent of a tutor group.

May take a while to get a permanent job, can take maternity cover jobs or other temporary jobs. Competition is quite high especially in the cities where the population density is higher. Retirement is at 63, raising to 65 in future years.