This paper analyses the role of educational interest groups in the context of current educational policy in Spain. The paper focuses on the historical and structural factors that are the basis for understanding the constitution of educational interests. It argues that the historical educational dualism and the political opposition between public and private education explains not only the emergence and political position of each educational actor, but also the dynamics of interaction between them and their strategies to influence policy making and implementation. The final section of the paper analyses the relationship between interest groups and the State. It argues that the diverse and heterogeneous educational demands lead to a specific form of educational politics and explain the conditioned relative autonomy of the Spanish State in education policy making. © 2000 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.