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EACEA National Policies Platform


7. Health and Well-Being

7.3 Sport, youth fitness and physical activity

Last update: 7 January 2021
On this page
  1. National strategy(ies)
  2. Promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people
  3. Physical education in schools
  4. Collaboration and partnerships

National strategy(ies)

Comprehensive Plan for Physical exercise and Sport in the realm of School Sports:

It is a comprehensive plan (plan integral) of the Spanish Government, implemented by the Superior Sports Council (Consejo Superior de Deportes (CSD)), subordinated to the Ministry of Culture and Sport (Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte) with the Autonomous Communities, local Authorities, universities and other ministerial bodies, in addition to the participation of the private sector. Envisaged for the period 2010-2020 for the purpose of promoting sports practice and physical activity in minors between the ages of 3 and 18, in relation to four fundamental principles in relation to these activities: 1) Relationship between physical-sporting activity and health, 2) sports practice and its relationship with education, 3) effective equality between women and men, and 4) sport as an element of social cohesion.

This Plan fosters the European initiatives proposed by the European Parliament in its EU Physical Activity Guidelines, especially in the recommendations on working to get 3 hours of Physical Education a week in all compulsory education and advocating for 5 hours a week.  Also, the Plan recommends changing Physical Education into a subject with presence throughout the post-compulsory stage of education.

Although the Plan has a series of indicators for its evaluation and monitoring, a document on the results of them is not available online. The indicators can also be consulted on page 41 of the Plan. There, in terms of evaluation, 2 types of indicators are described: Type A, which will really measure the success of the Plan and directly affect the education centers, and Type B, which are hard to measure and considered less relevant. An example of an indicator of the A-group would be that a 100% of the students between 3 and 18 years get 3 hours weekly of physical education; and an example of the type B would be the number of proyect subscribed to the Plan. 


Promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people

Basic Sport Support Plan 2020 (Plan 2020 de apoyo al Deporte Base):

It is led by the Superior Sports Council and has the collaboration of the Youth Sport Foundation, the Spanish Sports Federations and the Autonomous Communities. It is a grassroots sport support plan whose main objective is to increase youth participation in sport.

It also aims to arouse the interest and economic support of the business sector for the so-called Grassroots Sport, by granting tax benefits to companies that make donations to carry out projects included in the Plan. The Young Sport Foundation is in charge of the preparation of the activities programme and actions in the execution of the plan, as well as the material realization of the acts and activities that derive from the execution of this programme, assuming the condition of recipient of the donations that are made for its execution.

In terms of execution of the Plan, the Order PRE/423/2016, of 28 March (Órden PRE/423/2016) created an interministerial body, dependent of the Superior Sports Council, to manage the budget and donations and to develop the specific activities, plans and programmes to meet the goals set in the Plan. However, there is no monitoring and evaluation system present.


Physical education in schools

In Spain, the legislative framework governing and guiding the Spanish educational system is formed by the Spanish Constitution of 1978 (Constitució​​n española de 1978) and the laws that develop the principles and rights established in it: Organic Law 8/1985 (Ley Orgánica 8/1985), regulating the right to education, the Organic Law 5/2002 (Ley Orgánica 5/2002) of Qualifications and Vocational Training, and the Organic Law 2/2006 (Ley Orgánica 2/2006) of Education , modified by the Organic Law 8/2013 for the Improvement of the Educational Quality (Ley Orgánica 8/2013 para la Mejora de la Calidad Educativa (LOMCE)). Physical Education in schools is compulsory and their teaching is regulated by these laws.

The Law for the Improvement of the Educational Quality, also known as LOMCE, is the Law governing Education in Spain, whose main objective is the reduction of early abandonment in education and the improvement of educational outcomes according to international criteria. This Law is developed through Royal Decree 1105/2014, which establishes the basic curriculum of Compulsory Secondary Education and Baccalaureate; and Royal Decree 126/2014, which establishes the basic curriculum of Primary Education.

In this Law, Physical Education has the status of 'specific subject ' and it is for that reason that the educational Administrations have the power to establish their contents, unlike the 'core subjects' (such as a Spanish language and literature or Mathematics), the content of which is established by the central government. In the same way, the timetable for the course of Physical Education is established by the educational Administrations. On the other hand, the LOMCE makes its teaching compulsory from primary education to the 1st year of Baccalaureate (the baccalaureate is part of the post-compulsory secondary education in Spain).  


Number of hours devoted to the subject of Physical Education in Spain:

According to the Eurydice 2013 study, Spain is one of the countries in Europe that dedicates the fewest hours to Physical Education in Primary and Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO). On average, Spain imparts 53 hours of physical education annually in primary school and 35 hours in secondary school, approximately two hours per week in each autonomous community.

These statistics are different to the recommendations of the European Commission (EC) presented in its EU Physical Activity Guidelines (2008) where it is considered to be able to achieve important and favorable changes in health, it is necessary to do at least one hour of Physical Activity daily organized in the form of playground games or Physical Education classes. Teaching the subject in schools is an effective way to increase the levels of physical activity and improve the physical form. In addition, according to the EC's Guide to Physical Education in schools it is the most widespread source for the promotion of physical activity among young people.


Extra-curricular initiatives for sport in school:

The extracurricular activities are recognized by the aforementioned LOMCE as a right that the students have, which establishes that it corresponds to the central School Board "to participate in the implementation of the overall pedagogical line of the center and inform the guidelines for the programming and development of complementary school activities, extracurricular activities and school services" (art. 57h) of the Organic Law 8/1985 of Education), as well as "to approve, via proposal of the center holder, the contributions of the students' families to carry out extracurricular activities and the school services when determined by the Educational Administrations” (art. 57i) of the Organic Law 8/1985 of Education).

The aforementioned Comprehensive Plan For Physical Activity And Sport In The Field Of School-Age Sports (Plan Integral para la Actividad Física y el Deporte en el ámbito del Deporte en Edad Escolar), on page 33, establishes the main axis of action "physical activity, sport, and education" and within it, emphasizes the need to "create in all centers the figure of the Coordinator (...) responsible for channeling the student's interests, managing and directing a plan of activities in the facilities of the center and outside of it, organizing reinforcement actions and motivational campaigns for students, coordinating all the human and material resources and keep track of the situation of the students of the center."


Perseus program (Programa Perseo), promotion of physical activity during break time and the lunch break:

The guide to an active and healthy school (2008) and the Perseus program and promoted by the Spanish Agency of Consumption, Food Security and Nutrition of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, is a guide directed at the school managers, teachers, fathers and mothers, and technicians and those responsible for the regional administrations that aim to orient the development of physical and healthy activity of the students. One of its chapters is dedicated to the promotion of physical activity in the break time and lunch break.

The break time, as an integral part of the school day, influences the quality of school work and must be considered as a space for intellectual rest and physical movement, promoting motor activity, especially in the age of primary education. Among other recommendations the programme understands that recess must be at least 20 minutes; which should not replace Physical Education classes; that it is not a time of punishment or to do homework; whereas there is a need for safe and adequate facilities for all schoolchildren to be able to perform physical activity at the same time; and that adequate equipment is necessary to facilitate the practice of physical activity.

In addition, the program proposes physical activity during lunchtime, both for those at  school during that time, and for those who are elsewhere before the school day. It also proposes organizing extracurricular activities in that time, which in Spain is usually between an hour and a half and two hours.

To encourage these proposals, Perseus has developed a diagnostic guide (which can be found on page 103 of the Proposal teachers, managers and technicians from schools in order to help identify the students' physical activity level at the center and give them ideas on how to encourage physical activity in break times and lunch hours.

Chapter 3 of the guide Physical Activity And Health In Children And Adolescents from Ministry of Consumer Affairs sets out a series of recommendations for children and adolescents to obtain health benefits. These recommendations are based on the recommended minimum levels. One of the highlights of the guide is that break time is one of the key spaces for children to perform the recommended activities, with daily activity sessions within the school that should try to be higher than one hour per day.


Resources for professionals for the promotion of physical activity in schools

GIVE ME 10 (DAME 10) (Active Breaks Through Exercise):

Give Me 10 is a didactic material (material didáctico) that proposes a series of physical activities of between a duration of 5 and 10 minutes designed to develop in the classroom, during school hours, by the teacher or specialist with no specific material, with the objective to reduce the time in sedentary attitude during the school day. They are physical activities with which at the same time they work curricular contents of all the areas of knowledge from 2nd cycle of infant education until the last year of primary school and first year of secondary school.

The programme consists of 87 activities in the different cycles of primary and infantile education. The guide to these activities is available in the same guide on page 4, and can be given when the teacher considers it appropriate, depending on the content they are working on, the time of day or the state of attention of the students.

UDAs (Active Didactic Units); (UDAs (Unidades Didácticas Activas)):

It is a series of curricular materials (materiales curriculares) developed within the framework of the Strategy for Health Promotion and Prevention (EPSP) and they form part of actions for the educational environment in order to improve physical activity. Among its main proposals, it emphasizes the creation of a series of strategies and orientations for teachers of Physical Education, with the aim of increasing the physical activity during the classes. Among its main highlights are the strategies related to the efficiency in the organization of the classes, the improvement of the motivational and attitudinal aspects of the students; methodological aspects of class planning; the planning of active trips outside of the centre to promote physical activity in nature; among others.

These strategies are accompanied by practical examples to make it easier for teachers to implement them. For more information on the strategies, page 6 of UDAs can be consulted.

Physical Activity and Health from ages 3 to 6 years. Guide for teachers of Children's Education: (Actividad Física y Salud de 3 a 6 años. Guía para docentes de Educación Infantil):

It is another of the guides developed in the EPSP framework and is part of one of the actions selected to be carried out in the educational environment in order to improve the physical activity that this population performs in order to improve their health. It aims to be a theoretical and practical manual of support for the teachers of infantile education (students of 3 to 6 years) that imparts content related to motor skills as the first link in the promotion of physical activity and health in school.

According to the guide, the role of the teacher of children's education is crucial and the subject is efficient for learning basic motor skills in boys and girls. That is why the guide proposes methodologies for the promotion of motility, in addition to strategies for its development through games and motivations from the teacher to the students.


Collaboration and partnerships

Through Superior Sports Council (CSD), the Spanish State establishes collaborations for the promotion of sport and physical activity with associations, federations and foundations. Among the main ones are the Young Sport Foundation, the International School sport Federation (Fundación Deporte Joven, and International School Sport Federation).

The Spanish State grants the Council the power to provide aid and subsidies to Sports Federations and other Sporting Entities and Associations, regulated in article 8 of Law 10/1990, 15th of October, regarding Sport (Artículo 8 de la LEY 10/1990, de 15 de octubre, del Deporte).