The present paper studies the spatial distribution of elementary and secondary schools in a particular Hungarian settlement, Debrecen, the second largest city of country. In the course of the analysis factors influencing spatial distribution and the differences among certain historical periods are discussed. In the period before World War II location of elementary and secondary schools was influenced primarily by religion. Following World War II the increase of the number of inhabitants outside the city centre and especially the construction of new housing estates resulted regarding elementary schools in a significant decentralization. Urban plans prepared after World War II also regarded spatial decentralisation important in the case of the secondary schools, however, this was realized only in the case of vocational secondary schools and vocational schools. In the period after 1990 the appearance of new institute maintainers can be regarded as a determinant factor and this also resulted in decentralization.