Generally education in Spain is of a high standard. Some expat children prefer a Spanish school as it affords them the opportunity to learn the language. Although there are plenty of books on Spain and learning the language, nothing beats learning through association with the locals.
Naturally non-foreign language schools teach lessons in Spanish. Some parents might be put off sending their children to Spanish schools because of the language difficulties. But, bear in mind that young people are able to absorb other languages often far easier than older ones. I know of English families who moved to Spain hardly speaking a word of the language. The parents sent their children to a local school, and in pretty quick time the children were speaking Spanish, some very fluently in fact.
And in certain regions your children could also even learn some of the local languages such as Valencian or Basque.
It is a requirement that all children aged between 6 & 16 are schooled. As long as their parents are legal residents in Spain children have the right to education. Education in Spain is free from pre-school age to the age of 18, though only children from age 6 are guaranteed places.
The Fundamental Law of Education (Ley Orgánica de Educación) includes the following requirements-
1. Nursery infant education (0 to 6 years)
2. Primary education (6 to 12 years)
3. Compulsory secondary education (12 to 16 years)
Parents may opt for pre-school education which is also usually free, though places are not assured.
Similar to the UK, Spain has state funded schools as well as private schools. As you might expect there are also a number of non-Spanish schools which normally cater for the other main international languages such as English, French and Scandinavian countries.
Private schools are used by around a third of schoolchildren. Some private schools do actually receive state funding though, as do a number of church schools.
In Spain’s schools in the majority of regions most children have to provide their own books. The expense does not stop there though. In addition such things as satchels, notebooks, pens, and clothes have to be paid for. Then there are the school lunches to allow for. If your child travels to school by bus that is an extra cost. Children attending private schools are likely to have to pay more on certain equipment.
Regions vary quite a lot as far as costs are concerned. Madrid is one of the most expensive places. Much of the variation is due to the funding that the local governments are prepared to put into their educational facilities.
To enroll a child in a Spanish school is not always that simple. The process can be rather long winded for expats.
Convalidation involves providing the new school with your child`s education record. You will also need your child’s birth certificate or passport. Some form of proof of residence will also be required. And if your youngster is entering secondary school a passport-size photograph for his/her student ID card. This is what is supposed to happen, but it does not always.
Many schools start their day at 9 am. Finishing times vary though. In the UK it would be most unusual for schools to finish at 5 pm, but in Spain that does happen, when there is a two hour lunch break. Other schools might finish as early as 2 pm, but with no lunch breaks. The Spaniards are very family-oriented, and many children go home at lunch time to eat with their families.
The British Council has details of schools in Spain which offer an English-type education. Most are members of the National Association of British Schools in Spain, which organises periodic inspections by British inspectors, in collaboration with the British Council.
If you want your child to attend an International school then you can get a list of schools from the British Council in Spain.
Paseo General Martínez Campos 31
Just like in the UK it isn`t cheap to send your children to school in Spain. The ‘cuesta de septiembre’ is a reference to that time of year at the beginning of a new school year. This is when parents have to dig deep to pay for all the equipment etc that their children will need for the upcoming school year. Remember that clothes which are name-branded often cost a lot more than non-branded. Get whatever discounts are going on books and other supplies to help keep costs down.