6.3 Preventing early leaving from education and training (ELET)
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November 19, 2020 was approved in Congress Organic Law 3/2020, which ends Organic Law 8/2013 called LOMCE. The new organic law is also known as Law Celaá or LOMLOE. This law understands the difficult scenario that Spain has regarding school dropouts. It therefore raises a number of changes, such as adapting the school curriculum to pupils, in such a way that the content given is not an element that encourages abandonment (Article 6). Therefore, it seeks to generate greater autonomy in the centers. In addition, this law also introduces the opinion of the teacher as the main criterion regarding the possibility of repeating grades, when, with the LOMCE, it depended only on the qualifications obtained by the student. The hope is that this will help reduce dropout as students feel more motivated and their effort and not only their grades are taken into account.
It also includes the prevention of this phenomenon and the cooperativity of the different entities in this problem (Article 70a). The problem of dropping out is not an individual problem, but a social problem that many institutions are going through. In this way this organic law aims to create contexts of equity that allow students to continue with their school trajectory.
As mentioned above, prevention is one of the points that it considers to be paramount. This is why it is promoted by education of 0-3 years creating more than 21,000 places.
In turn, the PROA + programme was implemented in 2020, which wanted to reduce school leaving, and €125 million was allocated. The latest update is in progress.
On the other hand, a number of changes have been made in the system of grants and grants. The budget for the summits has been increased by 35%, making a total of 2,090 million euros. It's the largest scholarship budget ever.
In the same way this law takes into account the new current context: digitalization. To this end, it aims to incorporate technology in classrooms, as well as for teachers to have greater technological skills.
A modernisation plan for accreditation of competences has been approved for vocational training. The National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications has also been revised to address current needs, with a particular focus on digitisation and sustainability. On the other hand, the aim is to create 200,000 new vocational training places to give greater support to the Modernization Plan. In addition, a new Vocational Training Act regulating Dual VET has begun to be drafted. As regards the accessibility of vocational training, a sectoral conference on the national system of qualifications and VET for Employment has been set up.
The Spanish National Reform Programme 2023 (Programa Nacional de Reformas de España 2023, PNR) sets out several education objectives. One of them is Objective 3, social and territorial cohesion and policies for future generations. This objective understands the need for social capital and investment in education, and therefore urges the creation of more places in both early childhood education and FPs.
The timetable for the implementation of LOMLOE has ranged from its entry into force in January 2021 to the modifications made for the course 2023-24.
The first ones, 2021-22 modifications were an environment to create greater autonomy in the schools, also to modify the selection of the direct ones and the admission of the students.
In turn, the rules of revalidations were changed. In all basic education only two courses can be repeated except for a quarter of ESO, which can be more often if teachers consider it. In addition, the ESO recovery exams are abolished, but not at Bachelor's. In ESO, therefore, you can skip the course with two suspended subjects.
These measures were intended to avoid the stagnation of minors in certain courses and to promote their educational development, without the obstacles that can be caused by the traditional rigidity of educational cycles.
In the course 2022-23 the changes in the curriculum were implemented, the Ministry of Education fixes the basic subjects, but the Education Councils of each community elaborates them. It also disappears the division of subjects trunk, specific and of free economic configuration. In turn, the evaluation of students is "global, continuous and formative" and will focus on key development competencies. As for Bachelor there are changes oriented to its flexibility and openness. The types of Bachelor's Degree are expanded, with the following: Sciences and Technology, Humanities and Social Sciences, Plastic Arts, Image and Design, Music and Performing Arts and General.
In the course of 2022-23, the Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescents Act is implemented (Ley Orgánica 8/2021), which ensures the protection of minors. This leads to the establishment of a protection delegate. In turn, it emphasizes the educational nature of education between the ages of 0 and 3 (formerly it was considered only healthcare). Finally, FPs link dual education that combines training with paid practices.
Regarding measures to prevent ELET through informal and non-formal education, the Eurydice report (2014:60) states that Spanish students receive educational support outside the classroom from members of the teaching staff, boosting learning and school performance, thereby improving students’ social integration. However, measures as concrete as these have not been implemented by top-level authorities, as its functions are more general, in order to frame the education system. In fact, specific actions have been carried out by sub-national and local entities, as they have also educational competences preventing ELET, such as “monitoring the fulfillment of the compulsary education” (art. 25.2n of the Law 7/1985), in the case of the local bodies.
Here are various examples of proyects from a sub-national level:
- Castilla La-Mancha – V Plan for Educational Success and Prevention of Early School Leaving (PEEPAET): This regional plan will be composed of 3 different plans to address ELET, which began the 2022-23 course. The three Prepara-T, Ilusiona-T and Titula-S programs are aimed at developing inclusion in both the classroom and the school, therefore, it aims to ensure that students have problems in the subjects taught from Primary to Bachelor. This programme is funded by the European + Fund and aims to be a tool to reduce school leaving and to increase social and educational inclusion in the classroom. It therefore seeks to strengthen the compulsory educational stages.
- Catalonia – “New Opportunities” Programme (Programa “Nuevas Oportunidades”): This programme is targeted at young people, from 16 years old to 24 years, who do not own any degree. The programme offers a flexible schedule for the youngsters who seek to enter the labour market or want a formation in basic and transversal competences.
- Region of Murcia – Strategy for the Educational Sucess 2022-23 (Estrategia para el Éxito Educativo): This strategy aims to tackle ELET and scholar absenteeism by implementing over 50 measures in all cycles of compulsary education (ISCED 0-2). The intervention measures offer alternative education and promoting vocational training, as well as innovative actions such as peer tutoring and the creation of mobile apps to give personalized orientation to the yougsters. Since this strategy has been implemented, the school dropout rate in the region of Murcia has been decreasing. Since 2017 the school dropout rate has been decreasing in the region of Murcia, in 2017 the rate was 23.1% and in 2021 the rate had decreased 5.8%, being at 17.3%.
Within the framework of the Plan for the reduction of ELET, the Autonomous Regions inform all the activities in progress and, together with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, they carry out the monitoring and evaluation of the program. The Sectoral Education Conference (Conferencia Sectorial de Educación) is responsible for overseeing actions related to early school dropout.
The package of measures in the field of school leaving is carried out with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. Funding is still pending, as it is recalled that the organic law of LOMLOE still continues.
However, since a new educational law has been approved in November 2020, called LOMLOE (Ley de Orgánica de Mejora de la LOE) and will probably come into force in 2021, it is very likely that some issues related to ELET in Spain may suffer some changes. For instance, this law eliminates optative subjects in CSE so all students study the same contents until they are 16, unifying the national level of the high schoolers and postponing important irreversible career choices until they are more mature. Furthermore, this law also introduces the teacher’s opinion as the main criteria when it comes to the possibility of repeating grades, when, with the LOMCE, it only depended on the grades obtained by the student. The hope is that this will help reduce the ELET as students feel more motivated and their effort and not only their grades are taken into account.
The National Program of Reforms of Spain 2023 (Programa Nacional de Reformas de España 2023, PNR) establishes in its Objective 4 on education, actions directed to the reduction of the AET. The main measures introduced in the PNR are, in addition to the abovemetioned Plan, the gradual implantation of the Education Law in the different stages of the educational system, as well as the the Royal Decree 293/2016, 15th of July, which establishes the thresholds of income and family patrimony and the amounts of the scholarships and grants to study for the academic year 2019-2020 (Real Decreto 430/2019, de 12 de julio)
For its part, the Educational Support Project (Proyecto Apoyo Educativo), by the National Center of Innovation and Educational Research (Centro Nacional de Innovación e Investigación Educativa, CNIIE), coordinates the special educational attention to those students who present special education needs so they can achieve the maximum possible development of their personal capacities and, in any case, the Objectives established in general for all students..
These needs can be specific learning difficulties, high intellectual capacities, late entry into the educational system or personal conditions.