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"Our kids are well ahead of their friends in English schools." The Spanish education system has seen substantial investment in recent decades and standards are generally acknowledged to have improved greatly in that time, today bearing comparison with Europe's best.

Parents have to weigh up their own circumstances before deciding how to educate their children and these pages are no substitute for proper research, but it may be helpful to know that our customers' experience of Spanish schools seems to be very positive, particularly in terms of helping the families make the transition to permanent Spanish lifestyles.

Education in Spain

If you're contemplating a move to Spain, and you have children of school age, you're probably wondering what the Spanish education system is like... and whether your kids can adapt. As with so much else about life in Spain, the answers are all pretty good!

The Spanish education system has seen substantial investment in recent decades and standards are generally acknowledged to have improved greatly in that time, today bearing comparison with Europe's best.

Given the large numbers of British born students in the Spanish system, it is perhaps not surprising that Spain is reckoned to be the best country in Europe for 'British-style' schooling, but it is important to distinguish between the small number of private schools that follow the British curriculum and schools that accept British students, but follow the Spanish curriculum (the vast majority of schools; public and private).

Spanish is widely reckoned to be quite an 'easy' language to learn - especially for kids! Most families are pleasantly surprised by how easily their children integrate into their new schools, and often they report that education in a different country makes their children 'more open' to ideas and cultures. Be aware that certain regions place great emphasis on their cultural heritage and this is reflected in the language they speak and teach in schools - especially Catalan in the north-east and Valencian to the east.

They will soon be teaching you!

It's a well-known fact that it's easier to learn foreign languages when you're young, but have you thought about the other advantages of sending your kids to a Spanish school?

When families move from place to place, high on their list of priorities are the schools in the area - and rightly so. Parents worry about their kids' ability to fit in and make friends, staying on course with their education but also enjoying their school life. When the move is to another country, these concerns are amplified.

The plain truth is that the best way for your kids to integrate into a new community is through their school and the circle of friends they make there. Within a few weeks, they'll be crowding you out of your kitchen, raiding the fridge en masse, playing football in the wrong place (and the wrong shoes) and driving you mad with their computer games - only they'll be doing it all in Spanish!

For adults, Spanish classes are easy to find; look up your local adult education centre, they will almost certainly offer courses and these are likely to be a fun and inexpensive introduction to the language before you move!

Nursery, Primary, Secondary?

Many locations offer council operated nursery education for which children must be on the Town Hall register. You can also choose from an increasing number of private nurseries, both Spanish and foreign. Some nurseries are associated with primary schools.

Compulsory primary education is from age 5 to 14, with class sizes limited to 25 and with a pleasingly broad curriculum.

Secondary education, or the 'Instituto' takes children from 14 to 16 and culminates in the award of a diploma called Graduado en Education Secundaria. After 16, the curriculum becomes more specific, gearing students towards either higher education and university qualification under the Bachillerato, or towards a specific 'trade' with vocational learning. After this, students choose either university or go out to begin their career.

If this sounds all very familiar, that's because it is! The Spanish and British systems do have a great deal in common.

Teaching in English?

This is possible but you'll have to seek nut a private school - and your best jet is to go through NABSS (National Association for British Schools in Spain), & which covers over 40 schools and some 20,000+ students. NABSS schools follow Britain's National Curriculum with some obvious modifications - a greater emphasis on teaching Spanish, for example! For more information contact NABSS at


The normal time for school enrolment (for children of all ages) is in May for the following September and is usually done at the local Town Hall.

The registration process and documentation required will vary from one area to the next so it's best to contact your local Town Hall to ascertain their specific requirements.

You will need to be registered as a local resident by proving you either own or rent a property within the area. You will also need proof of parental identity (passport or residence card) and each child's birth certificate. In some areas you will also need proof of your child's vaccinations and a medical form signed by a Spanish doctor.

Public versus Private?

Almost three-quarters of the schools in Spain are publicly funded state schools. Private schools are easily found and, like in the UK, vary widely in cost. Generally, however, fees for Spanish private schools are far less than for their British counterparts. There is also a large proportion of British (not simply English-speaking) teachers at these private schools and it may interest you to know that some Spaniards choose these schools in preference to Spanish schools.

Special needs?

Britain and Spain make similar arrangements for students with special needs; with a preference for keeping students in mainstream schools wherever possible, but provision of special units where necessary.