The educational policy of democracy in Spain (1978-2019): Schooling, Church-State conflict, and quality of education




Education policy, public education, private education, quality of education, education system, pedagogical reform, business management


This article studies the trajectory of educational policy in Spain from the first steps of the restoration of democracy to the present day. Starting from the situation inherited from the Franco regime, it develops the thesis that this policy has revolved around three main issues. On the one hand, schooling, on the other hand, the conflict between the State and the Church for the control of the educational system and, finally, the question of the so-called quality of education. After examining the process that leads to full schooling up to the age of 16, we analyze the circumstances in which the struggle between public and private education takes place, the positions that the main political and social groups maintained in this regard, as well as the implicit pact that provisionally resolved the confrontation and shaped the current structure of education in Spain. With regard to the improvement of quality, the two main strategies developed during these years are analyzed, the one we call pedagogical reform – linked to the model of the comprehensive school – and the one we identify as school business management, related to the hegemony of conservative thinking and the globalization of educational policy.


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Author Biography

F. Javier Merchán Iglesias, Universidad de Sevilla

Doctor en Pedagogía por la Universidad de Sevilla. Ha sido profesor Asociado en la Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación de dicha Universidad. Investigador y  Presidente del Observatorio de la Educación. Miembro del Consejo de redacción de la revista Con Ciencia Social.



How to Cite

Merchán Iglesias, F. J. (2021). The educational policy of democracy in Spain (1978-2019): Schooling, Church-State conflict, and quality of education. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 29(January - July), 61.