Schools in the Sun
Education is compulsory in Spain from 6 to 16, and schools in Spain are increasingly considered to be of a better standard than those in many other European countries (including the UK) with fewer discipline problems. Here's a quick guide to the options and how they work.
- The most popular choice for expats, with several in the area to choose from.
- Some teach exclusively in English, others in English and Spanish.
- Most are members of the National Association of British Schools in Spain (NABSS).
- British schools usually follow the UK curriculum and offer GCSEs, A/S and A levels. Many also now offer the internationally- recognised International Baccalaureate diploma as an alternative to A levels.
- Class sizes are small and the atmosphere is relaxed.
- All international schools are fee paying. Fees vary from school to school.
- Spanish state education is open to all EU citizens and is free from pre-school to 18.
- You'll be expected to pay for books, stationery and extra-curricular activities.
- Villages and suburbs have their own nursery and primary schools, but secondary schools have a larger catchment area.
- The catchment area is all-important - if you're set on a particular school, make sure you look for a home in the right area.
- Around 30% of Spain's school children go to a private school. These are fee paying and offer a lower student/teacher ratio than state schools.
The Spanish education system
Pre-school Education (0-6 years)
A good way to integrate your children (and yourself into the Spanish-speaking community. Pre-school education (Educación Infantil) is divided into two 3-year stages (0-3 years and 3-6 years). Pre-school education is not compulsory but is free during the second stage (3-6 years) in state-funded schools. There is also a range of nurseries, both state-funded and private, some run by expats.
Compulsory Education (6-16 years)
This consists of two stages:
- Primary education (Educación Primaria) from the age of 6 to 12
- Lower Secondary education (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria - ESO) from the age of 12 to 16. Unlike UK schools, if children fail their end of year exams in at either primary or secondary levels, they risk having to repeat the entire academic year - a definite motivator!
Non-Compulsory Education (16-18 years)
Students can down one of two routes (as long as they have their certificate to show they have completed their ESO):
- Upper level of secondary education (Bachillerato)
- Intermediate vocational training.
The upper level of secondary education prepares students for university. Alternatively, they can opt for vocational training which begins with general training for the workplace and the moves into specialist areas and work experience placements.
Applicants for Spanish universities are expected to complete the Selectividad entrance exam in their final year of secondary school. Once accepted at a university students study for three years and gain either a licencia (in academic subjects) or a diploma in vocational or technical subjects. University graduates can then go on to do further study for the the equivalent of an MA or PhD.
Spanish university courses have been in a constant state of change over the last few years because the government has been working to bring them into line with EU regulations. In Spain it's usual for students to go to the nearest university and live at home. There are several good universities in the area, including in Málaga, Córdoba, Granada and Seville.
When it comes to grants, it's a familiar story - you're very unlikely to get one. So whether your children decide on university in Spain or in the UK, it will be quite an investment.
National Association of British Schools in Spain - www.nabss.org
INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS - COSTA DEL SOL
There are around 20 private international schools on the Costa del Sol. While a large proportion (around two-thirds) are British, there are also Finnish, French, German, Norwegian and Swedish schools and many teach children throughout their schooling from 3-18 years.
BILINGUAL NURSERY SCHOOLS
ARROYO DE LA MIEL
Peter Pan Nursery
C/ El Olivar 5, Arroyo de la Miel (Benalmádena). Tel: (+34) 952 562 103. Also now at MARBELLA; C/Los Naranjos s/n, Urb. Linda Vista, San Pedro de Alcántara, 29670 Marbella. (+34) 952 782 051; Bilingual education: 0 - 3 years. Also offering after school activities club, excursions and baby-sitting service.
Costa Kinder Care
(Next to the Buddhist Stupa), Benalmádena Pueblo. Tel: (+34) 952 448 007; www.costakindercare.com Bilingual education: 0 - 6 years. Also offering after school activities/homework club and language classes for adults.
St. Javier's International School, Marbella. Tel: (+34) 952 823 457; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Bilingual education: 1 - 7 years. Optional after school classes and nighttime babysitting service.
The International School Estepona
Centro Commercial La Zarza Camino de Cortes, Urbanisation El Paraíso, Estepona. Tel: (+34) 952 884 789; www.marbellaschool.com. Bilingual: 2-12 years.
Swan's International Primary School
Urb. El Capricho, Marbella. Tel: (+34) 952 773 248; www.swansschool.net. 3 - 11 years. (Swan's also have a secondary school - see relevant section for details).
SAN PEDRO DE ALCÁNTARA
C/. Los Eucaliptos 60, Urb. Linda Vista Baja, San Pedro de Alcántara. Tel: (+34) 952 786 029; www.calpeschool.com. Bilingual: 3 - 9 years.
Saint George's School
Urb. Cortijo Blanco s/n, 29670, San Pedro de Alcántara. Tel: (+34) 952 786 606. 2 - 8 years.
COMBINED PRIMARY & SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Benalmádena International College
C/. Catamarán s/n, Urb. Nueva Torrequebrada, Benalmádena Costa. Tel: (+34) 952 561 666; www.bic-benalmadena.webs.com/ 3 - 14 years. In addition to the usual curriculum, BIC also offers vocational studies for less-academic students.
The British College
C/. Guadalmedina, Urb. Torremuelle, Benalmádena Costa. Tel: (+34) 952 442 215; www.thebritishcollege.com Buses from Churriana and Riviera del Sol.
Sunland International School
Ctra. Cártama - Pizarra, Nueva Aljaima, Cártama Estación. Tel: (+34) 902 502 250; sunland.novaschool.es/ Ages 3-18. Sunland has recently expanded with the introduction of Years 12 and 13 and offers AS and A Level examinations with the Cambridge examination board.
C.C. Costa Sol 31, Urb. Bel Air, Estepona. Tel: (+34) 952 784 923; www.mayfairacademy.com 10 - 18 years.
St Anthony's College
Camino de Coín, Km. 5.25, Mijas Costa. Tel: (+34) 952 473 166; www.stanthonyscollege.com
5 - 18 years. Buses from Torreblanca and Fuengirola.
St. George's International School of Málaga
Avda. de la Centaurea 8, Urb. Cerrado de Calderón. Tel: (+34) 952 204 810; www.stgeorge.es/en/malaga/home British education from three to 18.
English International College
Urb. Ricmar s/n, N-340/A7, Km. 189.5, Marbella. Tel: (+34) 952 831 058; www.eicmarbella.org/ 3 - 18 years. Buses from Fuengirola and Marbella.
Swan's International, Sierra Blanca (Swan's Secondary School)
C/Lago de los Cisnes s/n, Urb. Sierra Blanca, 29602 Marbella. Tel. (34) 952 902 755; www.swanschool.net.
Urb. El Angel, Nueva Andalucía. Tel: (+34) 952 814 133; www.aloha-college.com 3 - 18 years. Buses from Fuengirola and Puerto Banús.
SAN PEDRO DE ALCÁNTARA
Laude San Pedro International College (previously King's College)
C/. G, Urb. Nueva Alcántara. Tel: (+34) 902 400 028; www.laudesanpedro.com 3 - 18 years.
Sotogrande International School
Apdo. 15, 11310 Sotogrande, San Roque, Cadiz. Tel: (+34) 956 795 902; www.sis.ac
Buses from Nueva Andalucía; boarding facilities for students over 10 years.
C/. Teruel 32, Urb. Cerro del Toril, Torremolinos. Tel: (+34) 952 383 164. Buses from Torremolinos and Fuengirola. www.sunnyviewschool.com. 3-18 years.
OTHER SCHOOLS & COURSES - COSTA DEL SOL
The Marbella Design Academy
All tuition is in English, with courses including Interior architecture, furniture design and graphic design. Camino Hoyanca, 29110 Monda.. Tel: (+34) 952 459 677/609 594 885; www.designschool.com
The Tutorial Learning Centre
Tuition in a variety of GCSE and A Level subjects.
N340/A7, Km. 197, Calahonda, Mijas Costa. Tel: (+34) 952 838 078
Málaga Business College
Provides tuition for the University of London/LSE undergraduate degree in business and diploma for graduates in Management. Melior Building, C/ Palma del Río 19, 29004 Málaga. Tel: (+34) 951 164 923; www.malagabusinesscollege.es
FOREIGN PRIVATE SCHOOLS - COSTA DEL SOL
C/. José Salik 4, Urb. Los Pacos, Fuengirola. Tel: (+34) 952 476 193; www.suomalainenkoulu.net
German College (Colegio Alemán Juan Hoffman)
Urb. Elviria, La Mairena, Plaza de Alemania s/n, Marbella, Tel: (+34) 952 831 417; www.deutsche-schule-malaga.com.
Norwegian School (Colegio Noruego/Den Norske skolen Costa del Sol)
Avenida Cerro Del Viento s/n, Arroyo De La Miel, Benalmadena. Tel: 952 577 380; www.norskeskolen.net.
Swedish School (Colegio Sueco/ Svenska Skolan)
Avda. Acapulco 11, Fuengirola. Tel: 952 475 076; www.svenskaskolancostadelsol.net.