So what types of education are available in Spain?
• Pre-school (Educación Infantil, segundo ciclo) – 3 to 5 years of age
• Primary School (Educación Primaria) six years of schooling – 6 to 11 years of age
• Compulsory Secondary Education (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria) four years of schooling – 12 to 15 years of age
• Post-Compulsory Schooling (Bachillerato) two years of schooling – 16 and 17 years of age
Spanish Bachillerato is the post-16 stage of education, comparable to A-Levels in the UK. There are two parts, a core curriculum with the compulsory subjects, and a specialist part with a few pre-selected branches to choose from.
These pre-schools are for children aged 3 to 5. They are normally run by specially trained and dedicated teachers. Attendance is totally optional but places are normally highly valued by most parents, especially if they are both working. Provision depends on availability within the area in which you decide to live. There may be some privately run nursery and infant schools in your area.
The main aim of state Pre School education is to prepare young children for social integration within a school group environment, produce personal awareness and improve co-ordination leading on to integrated class activities, lessons in basic arts and craft, painting, music, team games and learning the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Some pre-schools are beginning to introduce English and/or French to the curriculum for preschool education but again depends on certain areas of Spain. The Authority also places emphasis during infant and primary education on all aspects of civic behaviour, conservation and ecology, cultural integration etc.
PUBLIC or STATE
State education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Science, although some regional governments have responsibility & authority for the educational system (including higher education).
Compulsory education termed the basic general education begins at six years of age in a primary school and lasts for eight years. At the age of 16, students receive a school-leaving certificate, which determines the course of their future education. Those with high marks are awarded a titulo de graduado escolar certificate and may attend a higher secondary school to study for their baccalaureate. Less academic students are awarded a school certificate, and attend a vocational programme providing specialised training for a specific career.
Attending a local state school helps children to integrate into the local community and learn the language and I recommended it, if your plan is to stay in Spain indefinitely. Placing your children in a state school lets both them and you become part of the local community. It is worth noting that, whereas it is fairly easy to switch from a state school to a private school, the reverse is not the case. If you need to move a child from a private school to a state school it can be difficult for that child to adjust, particularly a teenager.
A concertado school is a school which receives some government funding and you pay less than you would at a private school. Almost all of these schools were, if not still, run by religious orders and may still instill strong Catholic values.
Concertado schools also actively encourage parental involvement. Children usually wear school uniform and there is a perception in Spanish society that their educational standard is higher than in state schools.
PRIVATE or INTERNATIONAL
If you decide to bring elder children to Spain and if there is a private or International school in your area and you can afford it, it may be wise to look for a school which follows the British National Curriculum or American education system depending on your choice and where you are from.
Some international schools are more ‘international’ than others as nationalities generally include English, German, Russian, South American, Dutch and Spanish. There are schools, particularly on the Costa del Sol which are predominantly English. The age range for international schools depends on the size of the school. Some cover pre-school to sixth form i.e. 3- 18, whereas other might only be 3 – 7. If at three, you feel that your child is too young for school, there are also international kinder gardens that take children from 1 – 6.
In Spain, it is illegal not to send a child of six years upwards to school, so home-schooling is not an option.
Culturally, the family is still a very important part of a young person´s life in Spain. Students may study in any chosen area as long as they are accepted but most students stay in the family home and commute. They can also rent nearby and return home at weekends.
As in all countries, the Spanish education system has its levels of education required for entrance into university but this depends largely upon what subjects you wish to study and works on a points system. The results from these two examinations equates to the total points gained. It is composed of 60% of the Bachillerato marks, plus 40% of the Selectividad. Each university has a point requirement for entrance and this will depend on the individual course and number of students wishing to study the particular subject.
For more detailed information sign up to our FREE ‘First 7 Steps to Successfully Move to Spain’ guide. Just fill in your name & e-mail address in the opt-in form on the left handside of our wall.