Education in Spain
INTERNATIONAL& PRIVATE SCHOOLS
Privately run schools are tailored to suit the needs of foreign born students while simultaneously accommodating Spanish nationals interested in immersing their children in a multicultural environment.
Depending upon the curriculum and cultural orientation of the learning centre, classes are taught in a variety of languages: English, German, French, Swedish, etc. Many of the private schools are bilingual and offer a curriculum parallel to that offered in the UK.
The wide variety of options reflects the popularity of international and private schooling. GCSEs can be undertaken at most of the schools, while the Spanish LOGSE system (Ley de Ordenación General del Sistema Educativo/standardised education made law in 1990) is also an attractive alternative.
International and private schools allow children to be in the company of peers while exposing them to children of other cultures. These schools tend to have a higher teacher to student ratio and this allows for a more personalised experience.
On the other hand, total immersion into the Spanish culture has its benefits. Children develop friendships with other children in their community and integrate into the Spanish culture quickly. More and more ex-pats are exploring the option of state schools and the quality education they provide.
The state run schools do not offer the bells and whistles of privately run schools, however they provide quality education. Where you live determines which state school(s) your children may attend.
Education in Spain begins with “pre-school” which incorporates play school, nursery school, kindergarten and infant school. Divided into two stages by ages 1 to 3 and 4 to 6, attendance is voluntary and provided free.
Compulsory education begins with primary school at age 6 and covers subjects such as social sciences, Spanish, reading and maths.
Secondary school education provides more specialised education for pupils aged 12 to 16 and upon completion, pupils who have achieved the right grades are awarded a graduation certificate allowing them to continue with further education.
Ideally, one would travel to Spain prior to moving, to investigate the different educational possibilities. If your child will be going to a state school you will need to be registered at the local town hall. You will need a copy of this registration, a copy of your child’s proof of immunisation, their previous school transcripts, as well as photocopies of both the parents’ and child(ren)’s passports.
As in British state schools, the catchment area is all-important, so having decided on your chosen school it is essential to ensure that your house (whether purchased or rented) is located in the correct area. Most schools prefer to interview prospective pupils, with exams being set in some cases to ascertain the level of Spanish attained.
Keep in mind that if your child will be attending a non-English speaking school, that their knowledge and learning of the English language should not be taken for granted. All students in Spanish state school are obliged to learn English and your child can take advantage of this class time to refine their spelling and grammar skills.
While the other students are learning rudimentary English, yours can be studying from texts bought in England or purchased over the internet at www.amazon.co.uk. There is a fine series of texts published by Letts Educational that complement the English curriculum. www.letts-education.com
Scholastic also has a wide range of interesting texts that can be used for home schooling or to complement the Spanish curriculum. www.scholastic.com
If you want your child to follow the British curriculum, the British Council can give you advice regarding British schools in Spain:
If you are considering Spanish state run schools, contact the town hall in the area where you are planning to move. Public education is free, but books and materials are not supplied.
Pre-school (educación infantil) is for children aged 1-3 and 3-5 and is not obligatory. Emphasis is placed on the development of personal identity and autonomy, the development of social and physical skills and communication. In other words the children play and do group and individual activities.
Primary Education (educación primaria) is for ages 6 to 12 and consists of three two-year cycles. This compulsory educational program is designed to develop the child’s personality and prepare them for social and cultural life.
The children study the following courses:
- Environmental, social & cultural studies: biology, geology, etc. (conocimiento del medio natural, social y cultural)
- Art (educación artística)
- PE (educación física)
- Spanish language/literature (lengua castellana y literatura)Foreign languages (lenguas extranjeras)
- Maths (matemáticas)
- Religion (religión) is optional. (There is separation of church and state as established in the Spanish constitution, however in 1954, Franco made an agreement with the Holy See that the Catholic religion is the official Spanish religion; the Church pays no taxes and in fact is subsidised and taught in schools from pre-school to bacillerato).
Obligatory Secondary Education, ESO, (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria) is from 12 to 16. The Junta states that these years of study are to help students recognise and develop their aptitudes and interests and to teach them the values and skills of a modern pluralistic democratic society.
- Natural sciences: biology/geology & physics/chemistry (ciencias de olas naturalezas)
- Social sciences: geography, history, morality & ethics (ciencias sociales conocimiento de medío)
- Virtual and art and design, DT, (educación plástica y virtual)
- PE (educación física)
- Spanish language/literature (lengua castellana y literatura)
- Foreign languages: English, French, German (lenguas extranjeras)
- Music (música)
- Technology (tecnologías)
- Religion (Catholicism) (religión)
Fourteen is the pivotal age when a child’s progress in school shapes their future academic possibilities. They enter into the last cycle of compulsory education and depending upon their academic success, they will either undertake vocational training or carry on with their studies for a further two or three years in university preparation, students with appropriate qualifications must take exams to enter into Spanish university.
Bachillerato (the Spanish version of the A level course) is from sixteen to eighteen. This last stage of secondary education focuses on formation, career decisions and college preparation. Subjects include art, natural sciences and health, humanities and social sciences and technology. At the end of Bachillerato, the university applicants must complete “selectividad”, an entrance exam.
There are specialised schools for music, dance and art. For children living in rural areas there are state run residential schools as well as private boarding schools. Generally, children with special needs are integrated into mainstream schools wherever possible.
Concertados are private schools, run by individuals, collectives or businesses and are profit making educational institutions; however they are subsidised by the State.
In order to study in Spain, children must be registered at the town hall, see “Getting Registered” or call 807 422 422 to find out how. We can also answer your questions about school registration and enrolment.
In most Spanish schools you will be required to obtain your child’s course/text books and materials prior to the commencement of the new term. Materials include pens, pencils, crayons, plastercine, rubbers and rulers etc. In some cases you will be asked to provide a toy. Your child’s school will provide you with a full list and advise you on where to obtain all the items you need.
In some stores up to 25% discount is offered on school textbooks if purchased before the end of July. State schools are run by the Junta de Andalucía, their website outlines course objectives & resources. www.juntadeandalucia.es/educacion