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Schools in Spain

schools in spain

Schools in Spain: Structure of education in primary and secondary schools

Selecting a school is one of the most important concerns when a family with children moves to Spain. The Spanish legislation obliges parents, both Spanish citizens and foreigners who permanently live in the country, to give their children primary and secondary education. In any school in Spain, a child of foreign parents is eligible for primary and secondary education. When submitting the documents to the consulate in order to petition a residency permit in Spain, the parents of a child must demonstrate the enrollment confirmation from a school in Spain.

The educational process in the Spanish schools is organized in the following way: children are admitted to primary school in Spain at the age of 6 years, and they study here for 6 years. When the children turn 12, they graduate to the secondary Spanish school, where they study for 4 years.

On graduating from the secondary school in Spain, it is possible to continue studying in the senior school called 'Bachillerato', if one plans to attend the university in Spain or to take courses of professional education (“FP” in Spanish).

The Spanish educational system requires passing the graduation exam, both in primary and in secondary schools. The last year of the secondary school is considered to be a preparatory year before entering the senior school, ‘Bachillerato', or embarking on a path of professional education courses. For this reason, at the end of the third grade of the secondary school in Spain, a student needs to choose one of two options.

Types of schools in Spain

Schools in Spain are divided into three types:

1. Public schools (colegios públicos)

The public schools in Spain are free of charge (with the exception of the purchase of the textbooks by the parents and small administrative expenses). The drawbacks of the public schools are as follows:

  •  Frequent need for repair and old equipment;
  •  Many pupils in the classes;
  •  Lack of personal attention for every pupil.

It is important to remember, if you don't live in Spain yet and are planning to move to the country, that the children of foreigners can't obtain secondary education in the public schools. For this purpose, one needs to have local registration in Spain. When petitioning for the residency permit in Spain without the right to work, you have to submit to the consulate the enrollment confirmation paper that demonstrates your child has been admitted to a public or semi-public school.

2. Semi-public schools (colegios concertados)

spanish schools

Semi-public schools in Spain have been financed by the Catholic Church or by the local authorities. Despite the fact of financing by the church, studying in such a school is secular-oriented. The educational model is based on the Spanish system of education, but, as a rule, the focus of the schools is on studying foreign languages.

3. Private schools in Spain (colegios privados)

First of all, the private schools include the international private schools in Spain. It is possible for the curriculum in these types of schools to be based primarily on a foreign system of education, combined with some mandatory subjects taken from the Spanish system of education. British and American schools in Spain are especially popular among foreigners from many countries. There are also Spanish schools that combine two educational systems and also enable the students to obtain the international Bachelor's diploma (A Level, IB).

Language of teaching in the Spanish Schools

The language of teaching in the Spanish schools is an important issue that merits a separate discussion. In the schools for children, the teaching is conducted in the Spanish language. The exceptions are the schools located in different regions of Spain, where students speak not only Spanish, but also a second official language (Catalonia, Valencia, Galicia, the Country of Basque). Studying the second official language in these regions of Spain is mandatory (Catalan, Valenciano, Gallegan, and Basque). The number of hours allocated to study the second official language depends upon the region. In terms of hours allotted, Catalonia is a leader.

language in spanish schools

American and English schools in Spain use English as the language of teaching. A good command of English is the main requirement for admission to these schools. The Spanish language is studied as the first foreign language. If a school is located in a region where two official languages are spoken, it is obligatory to study the second official language in addition to Spanish.

If you plan to study in an international, private school in Spain based on the Spanish system of education, in order to be admitted, it is necessary to be fluent in English and Spanish, since education in these schools is carried out in two languages equally. The older the potential student is, the better he or she needs to speak these languages. On admission, the knowledge of the foreign languages is tested. One must inquire about the admission exams requirements on an individual basis.

Studying Catalan in the Spanish Schools

It is obligatory to study the Catalan language in all schools located in Catalonia. Catalan is not just a separate subject, however – the educational process is conducted exclusively in Catalan, with the exception of a few subjects. The Spanish legislation binds the regional authorities to provide education in the Spanish language for the children's families that have submitted the special application. If the public schools don't provide such an opportunity, the child's Spanish-language education must be paid for in a private school. At one time this issue was discussed heatedly in the printed media; however, in practice, very few families that live in Catalonia express a desire for their child to study in the Spanish language rather than in Catalan.

study catalan in spain

In the international private schools for children in Barcelona, as well as in the schools of other cities in Catalonia, studying Catalan is mandatory. Nevertheless, some schools, in order to decrease the language load, make exceptions for the foreign students during the first years of their studies. This tendency shows a positive influence on the process of a child's adaptation to the new surroundings. Yet, if you (or your children) plan on studying at one of the universities in Barcelona or other cities in Catalonia in the future, it certainly will be necessary to study Catalan.

We recommend that you voice your questions about studying the Catalan language during your visit to a school in Barcelona or in another of the cities of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia. In some cases, it is quite possible that foreign students need some command of the Catalan language when applying for admission to the senior grades of certain private schools.

List of schools in Spain

School Location

 Description

 Educational programs

 Duration of a program

Admission conditions

Studying cost program

St. George’s School

Malaga, Madrid, Sevilla, Almeria

St. George school offers a motivating learning environment for children, superb teaching quality, creative approach towards the process of learning, individual support for every student, and a team of teaching professionals.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education- Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)

(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, an interview with the school principal and completion of the school’s in-house exam.

Upon request

Caxton College

Valencia

Caxton College is a British, private boarding school for multi-grade education, designed for students between 1-18 years old. Founded in 1987 by a Valencian family, the school has obtained the accreditation of the English and Spanish educational authorities. The educational process in this Spanish school is based on the British program. Highly experienced professionals from Great Britain are in charge of the studying process, while subjects like Spanish and culture are taught by Spanish teaching experts. On completion of the 2nd, 6th, and 9th year of studying, the students pass SATS exam, and when they turn 16, they pass the exams to obtain IGCSEs – the British Certificate of General Secondary Education. Later on, starting at 16-18 years old, the students are prepared to enter the university based on the British or Spanish educational system. 

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education- Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)

(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam

Upon request

The British school of Marbella

Marbella

The British School is an independent secondary school in Spain for multi-grade education. The school was founded in 1958 as a British-American school. Here, according to the British National Standard, children of all nationalities and between the ages of 3-18 study. The educational process follows the British National Educational Program. Moreover, the school offers additional classes in the Spanish language. Curriculums of this school correspond with the GCSE- and А-levels. This educational establishment acts on behalf of the London and Cambridge Universities, functioning as a testing center. The students of this school obtain direct access to American, British, and Spanish universities. The school teachers hold a British degree and an appropriate accreditation; the teachers of the Spanish department also have a high teaching qualification in accordance with the standards of the Ministry of Education of Spain.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam.

Upon request

Hasting School

Madrid

Hastings School, the British college in Madrid, was created in 1971. Today, the college is extremely popular and is considered to be a prestigious school due to its high academic standards and the educational models that take into account the individual needs of every child. Throughout 40 years of its history, the school has offered serious educational programs for children from different countries in a pleasant, family-like atmosphere.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam.

Upon request

Montfort

Madrid

Montfort college is a private school with teaching in English and Spanish. Beginning with the 5th grade of primary school and continuing until graduation from secondary school (Bachillerato), it is mandatory to study French. The college program covers the educational levels from 2 years old (Educacion Infantil) up to the secondary education level (Bachillierato) and admission to the university.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing<

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam

Upon request

The British School of Barcelona

Barcelona

The purpose of The British School of Barcelona is to provide students with high-quality education and to enable them to develop on a personal level. The school philosophy envisages the creation of a unique studying environment where every student feels him- or herself appreciated and motivated by success. All teachers at this school hold British degrees and appropriate certifications; the teachers of the Spanish department also have a high teaching qualification in accordance with the standards of the Ministry of Education of Spain.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam

Upon request

El Limonar International

Alicante, Murcia

El Limonar International School is a private school founded in 1990. It is a unique school that offers bilingual education for children between 3 and18 years of age. The teaching in this school is conducted in English and Spanish. El Limonar International School has 4 studying centers: one of them is located in Villamartín, Alicante Province, and three others are in Murcia.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam.

Upon request

OAK House Barcelona

Barcelona

OAK House School Barcelona is a daily, non-commercial school founded in 1968. Located in Barcelona, the school lies in one of the quiet, residential areas of the city. This school offers bilingual education in line with the standards of the British National curriculum. Moreover, the students of this school study Spanish and Catalan. When graduating from the school, the students pass the exams for the Bachillerato (based on the Spanish educational standards) and IGCSE  (based on the British system). The school offers in-depth studies in computer sciences, music, and dramatic arts. As for the physical training of the students, classes include gymnastics, volleyball, football, swimming, track and field, and athletics. Apart from the subjects listed above, extra-curricular programs include choir classes, dance club, German, and French.

In order to be admitted to this school in Barcelona, all children must pass entrance exams that include a psychological test, English or Spanish exam, and mathematics.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam.

Upon request

St. Peter's School

Barcelona

St. Peter's School offers a high level of teaching based on personalization of the studying process, its bilingual teaching, and a deeply held respect for the moral and civil values fostered by the school’s programs and the programs of the Ministry of Education. Combined with these practices, the school’s modern teaching methodologies aim to achieve the best results for its students.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam.

Upon request

St. Paul’s School

Barcelona

Founded in 1968 by the St. Paul’s Fund, St. Paul's School is a private college located in one of the most prestigious zones of Barcelona, Pedralbes. From the moment it opened until this day, the school has prioritized the study of foreign languages. The level of English acquired by the students during their period of study at the school guarantees that they will obtain the Cambridge diploma that enables a student to enter any English university at which he or she is accepted in the future.

The studying process is carried out in English; Spanish, Catalan, and French are also mandatory for learning. The teaching team is formed out of experienced English-speaking professionals.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam.

Upon request

Kensington School Barcelona

Barcelona

Kensington School was founded by Edward Pole Jills in 1966. Every year, 230 students of different nationalities, ranging in age from 4 to 18 years, study at the school.

Special attention is paid to the preparation for the GCSE exams that enable a student to enter any university in the USA and England at which they are accepted for academic achievement. The teachers at this school have obtained their degrees in England, with an exception of the teachers of Spanish and French.

The main educational process is carried out in English, and Spanish is studied beginning at 7 years old and French at 9 years old. For children who are not yet fluent in English, there are special courses that help them integrate into the English-speaking environment as efficiently as possible. At this school, students also study a 4th language, which a student can choose by him- or herself (e.g. German, Japanese).

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education- Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam.

Upon request

The Benjamin Franklin

International School

The Benjamin Franklin International School opened in 1986 in Barcelona. Children from multiple countries study here. The experienced teachers’ team and the efficient methodology are the keys to the school’s success. Since the main subjects are taught in English, all the teachers of the school are English-speaking specialists.

The curriculum of this school has been created according to the American methodology in addition to elements from the Spanish curriculum. These features allow students to achieve access to the entrance exams for American as well as Spanish universities. Individual programs are created for students who do not have a sufficient level of proficiency in the English language.

On the campus of the school, one can find tennis courts, sports grounds for the junior and senior grade students, a library, a concert hall, computer halls, a cafe, a cafeteria, and chemistry, biology, and physics labs. Every day, the children are served lunches and snacks. School buses picks up the children in the morning and deliver them home after the school day concludes.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education- Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam.

Upon request

American School of Barcelona

Barcelona

American School of Barcelona is included on the list of the best 10 schools in Barcelona. Founded in 1963, the teaching in this school is conducted in English, although Spanish is an important language in the school curriculum as well. Thus, upon graduating from the school, the children are fluent in two languages. The majority of the school teachers are from English-speaking countries.

After passing final exams, the students receive the American diploma, and, if desired, they may take extra exams to obtain the Spanish Certificate as well (Bachillarato). Also, it should be mentioned that the school actively promotes practicing sports as one of the crucial elements in the children’s upbringing. The ideology considers that sports help develop stamina, self-confidence, and intuition – everything a person needs to become successful in this life. Based on this philosophy, a special sports program was created to offer diversity and an individual approach to every student’s needs.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam

Upon request

Escuela Suiza de Barcelona

Barcelona

Opened in 1919, Escuela Suiza de Barcelona is a private Swiss school in Barcelona founded for students of all nationalities interested in the Swiss system of education, the German language, and the Swiss culture. This secular school has 660 students from of 3-18 years old.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education- Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)

(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam

Upon request

Colegio Alemán Barcelona

Barcelona

The German college is a school that possesses the accreditation of the Ministry of Culture of Spain. Children from different countries and cultures study at this school. The school program offers help for students adapting to a new language environment, not only for children of German origin, but also for the students arriving from other countries. The majority of the teachers of this school are German, and the main subjects are taught in German, the primary language of the school. In addition, a lot of attention is paid to studying other foreign languages, such as English, French, Catalan, and Spanish.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education- Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam

Upon request

Lycée français de Barcelone

Barcelona

The French school in Barcelona is a part of the French educational system outside of France that consists of 470 secondary schools all over the world. The school enables students to obtain French secondary education according to the official, valid educational guidelines of France. Apart from their main goal—to educate French students—these schools promote the French language and culture. Lycée français de Barcelone is famous for its quality of education, modern pedagogic materials, and individual approach to every student.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam

Upon request

Aula Escuela Europea

Barcelona

European school Aula is a private school that offers 3 programs of the International Bachelor’s: Initial Stage Program, Middle Stage Program, and Diploma Program. Diploma of the International Bachelor’s has been recognized all over the globe and assists students in gaining admission to the most prestigious universities abroad without any additional exams.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical Training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-schoool:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO) (children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam

Upon request

El Collegi SEK

Madrid, Barcelona

College SEK was opened in 1975 at SEK university.

At the schools in Madrid and Barcelona, the teaching process is carried out by highly qualified teachers from Spain, Great Britain, and other countries and follows the international standards.

Curriculum:

Mathematics

Literatures

Linguistics

History

Physical training

Philosophy

Chemistry

Physics

Foreign languages

Biology

Geography

Ecology

Drawing

Pre-school:(children from 2 to 5 years old)

Basic Education - Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)

(children from 6 to 16 years old)

Bachelor’s – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP)(children from 16 to 18 years old)

Depends on the educational program. As a rule, interview with the school principal and the school in-house exam

Upon request

Please feel free to contact the specialists of the «INEEDSpain» service center for more detailed information concerning these programs, their costs, and payment conditions.

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