Although all students can have access to a bilingual secondary school in Madrid (that is, to the Programa Bilingüe track), the Community of Madrid poses certain restrictions on access to the high exposure Sección Bilingüe track. Students who do not fulfill the necessary requirements are not granted access to the Sección Bilingüe, and instead are streamed into the low exposure Programa Bilingüe. This decision is made by local school boards.
Students from a bilingual public primary school
For students coming from bilingual public primary schools, the school board takes into account the following in order to decide whether a student can be given access to the Sección Bilingüe:
- The results of the English external evaluation that the student participated in at the end of primary school
- The results of the Conocimientos y Destrezas Indispensables (CDI) exam set by the Community of Madrid which assesses students’ “essential knowledge and skills” in Spanish Language and Literature, Mathematics, and General Knowledge, at the end of primary (the student must at least have passed this exam)
- The student’s academic record
- “any other objective criteria that entails checking the level of English proficiency of new students”
Students from a non-bilingual public primary school
Students who do not come from a bilingual public primary school in the Madrid region, and who wish to enter the Sección Bilingüe at a bilingual public secondary school, must to be in possession of a certificate of English proficiency in the four essential skills, issued by a “recognized prestigious institution”, equivalent to a CEFR level B1 (for admission to Year 1 or 2 of secondary school) and equivalent to a CEFR level B2 (for admission to Year 3 of secondary school).
Mobility between tracks
Once a student has been streamed into the Sección or Programa Bilingüe track, there is still some mobility allowed between the tracks:
- On the one hand, a student may at any time opt out of the Sección and go to the Programa track if the teacher council should think this is to the student’s benefit.
- On the other hand, a student can only be transferred from the Programa to the Sección after the teacher council has carefully assessed that the student possesses a level of proficiency in English
“sufficient to carry the load in English typical of the Sección track”
. This decision is made after the final exam at the end of the year, so as to allow the transfer at the start if the next year.