Like all new education acts in Spain, the LOMLOE has attracted controversy and led to protests and accusations that it is undermining the education system. Although various parts of the LOMLOE have already been introduced, the new curriculum will be implemented from the 2022/23 school year. But what are the most important changes in the LOMLOE, and what does it mean for bilingual education?
The LOMLOE (Ley Orgánica de Modificación de la Ley Orgánica de Educación), also known as the Ley Celaá, was introduced on 29 December 2020. Rather than building on the previous law – the LOMCE – the LOMLOE is an adaptation of an earlier law – the LOE.
The LOMLOE sets out five basic priorities: the rights of the child, gender equality, personalised learning, sustainable development and the digital revolution. These are reflected throughout the curriculum.
Organisation of Educational Stages
The LOMLOE introduces changes to the organisation of the various educational stages. These include:
- In primary school, there is a return to three “cycles” of two years, instead of two cycles of three years.
- Compulsory secondary education (ESO) is no longer split into two cycles. This means 4th-year ESO students will no longer have to choose between an academic pathway leading to Bachillerato and university, and a separate pathway leading to vocational training.
- Bachillerato students will be able to choose between four study programmes. As well as the current three – Humanities & Social Sciences, Science (which becomes Science and Technology) and Arts – they will be able to opt for General Studies. This programme will include contents from the other three options.
As our textbooks are aimed at ESO, the rest of this blog post will focus on the changes there.
For this educational stage, the LOMLOE sets out various transversal values: a scientific attitude, health promotion, emotional education, values and creativity.
At the end of the second year of ESO, all students will be sent advice on whether they should continue with the standard ESO academic curriculum, enter a curriculum diversification programme (for students who are struggling) or take a vocational training course. All of these pathways will lead to a Secondary Education Certificate if the students successfully complete them.
In the 4th year of ESO, the compulsory subjects will be:
- Physical Education
- Geography and History
- Spanish language and literature
- The co-official language and literature of their region, if there is one
- A foreign language
In addition, students can choose 3 additional subjects from a list that will be agreed between the central government and the regions. Those subjects will include physics and chemistry, and biology and geology.
Another change is the elimination of the measured learning outcomes – the so-called estándares de aprendizaje. This has been popular with many teachers, who saw the standards as overly bureaucratic and formulaic, but other teachers are concerned that the baby is being thrown out with the bath water.
Subject Curriculum and Bilingual Education
In line with this elimination of the learning outcomes, the new curriculum is less prescriptive: it specifies fewer topics that must be covered in each subject. Instead, it focuses on a number of specific skills (competencias específicas), and a more limited amount of key subject knowledge (saberes básicos). This leaves greater flexibility to autonomous communities and, potentially, individual teachers to decide what they want to include in each subject. There are, of course, both benefits and disadvantages to this.
Beyond this, there are no big changes to the national curriculums for the subjects covered by our textbooks – Physics and Chemistry, Biology and Geology and Geography and History. Consequently, our books cover all of the contents set out in the national curriculum (and more). However, most regions are yet to publish full details of their curriculums, so we’ll have to wait and see whether they make any changes.
Foreign languages in general, and bilingual education in particular, will remain a priority under the new law.
The LOMLOE introduces a few other changes that have been controversial.
Repeating a year
The LOMLOE states that students should only repeat a year in exceptional circumstances. Only one year can be repeated in primary school and only two in total by the end of ESO. This actually moves Spain more into line with other countries – Spain has an exceptionally high number of students who repeat a year during the course of their education.
The LOMLOE stipulates that single-sex schools cannot obtain public funding. This means that single-sex concertados will have to choose between moving to mixed schooling or going private.
Castilian Spanish as the vehicular language
As opposed to the LOMCE, the LOMLOE does not define Castilian Spanish as the vehicular language of education, or mention that it is the official language of the Spanish state.
However, the LOMLOE does require the regional education authorities to guarantee the rights of students to receive an education in Castilian Spanish and in the co-official language where relevant.
The LOMLOE doesn’t define an alternative subject for students who don’t choose the take the subject of Religion. Under the LOMCE, these students took a subject called Ethical Values. Moreover, the mark/grade that students receive for religion will not count towards their average mark/grade. Critics argue that these two things relegate the importance of Religion as a subject and will discourage students from choosing it.