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Types of Schools in Spain
Kindergarten or preschool (preescolar) – aged 3 – 5 years
Primary school (escuela primaria) – aged 6 – 12 years
Secondary education (educacisn secundaria obligatoria/ESO) at the age of 12 – 16 years
Private school (escuela privada)
Compulsory education (escolaridad obligatoria) is also referred to as basic general education (Educacisn General Basica/EGB)
At age 16:
Pupils who have not successfully completed four years of secondary education are awarded a school certificate (certificado de escolaridad).
Pupils who have successfully completed four years receive a graduado en educacisn secundaria certificate and can attend upper secondary school (or in some cases the same school) and study for a bachelor’s degree (bachillerato) leading to university entrance.(Universidad)
Students can attend a vocational school (formacisn professional) providing specialized training for a specific profession.
Schools that cater for children with special needs.
Pupils are taught in mainstream schools if it is not possible to meet their individual needs. In these cases, children are taught in special education units or schools. In Spain, there are special state schools for pupils with special educational needs and learning disabilities.
A general criticism of Spanish public schools by many foreigners is the lack of extracurricular activities such as sports, music, drama and arts and crafts. State schools do not have school clubs or sports teams, and if children want to play team sports, they usually have to sign up for a local club. However, even if they are not part of the curriculum, sports and other activities are generally organized through parent and sports associations. Fees are low and activities are usually held right after school.
Vacaciones escolares – School holidays
The school year consists of three semesters, each averaging around 11 weeks. The school year starts in mid-September and ends in mid-June. The main holidays are Christmas, Easter and a very long 3-month summer vacation. Most schools in Benalmadena close between 14:00 – 14:30. Schools are closed on public holidays if they fall within the term. (Also for special events / local festivities that are regional.
Integration into Spanish society
Education in Spain is mostly co-educational and completely free from nursery to university.
(This also applies to children of foreigners)
Spain’s state-funded school system is supported by private schools, which include many foreign and international schools.
Some schools offer lunches, although many children bring a packed lunch or take lunch home if they live nearby. Although an increasing number of schools do not have lunch breaks and end classes earlier at 2 pm.
Most schools provide subsidized free bus transport to bring children to and from their homes. You will have to clarify this with the individual schools.
Public schools and communities may provide after-school care (guarderia) for working parents.
After you have decided to send a child to a public school, you should stick with it for at least a year to be fair, because it can take that long for a child to fully adapt to a new language, change of environment. and different curricula.
Remember, it is much easier to transfer from a public school to a private school. The transition from private to public school is much more difficult, especially if your children are teenagers.
Many foreign parents choose to educate their younger children in Spanish kindergartens and primary schools, where learning the language is faster and easier. At secondary level, children are educated at a private school.
Spanish universities tend to be overcrowded, but their educational level is comparable to European universities. Although foreign parents who can afford to educate their children in foreign universities (especially American and British) choose this option because the courses are more flexible and shorter.
Before making any major decision regarding your children’s future education, it is of the utmost importance that you consider their abilities, temperament, educational strengths and individual requirements.
Attending a public school helps children integrate into the local community and learn the local language and is highly recommended if you plan to stay in Spain for any length of time. Although it may not be appealing at first, many British children prefer to attend a Spanish school and become part of the local community.
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