If you have children and you plan to move the whole family to Spain, your children's education is highest priority. There are a variety of options to consider, as outlined below.
All of these establishments offer tuition in English. They tend to be the most popular option, but all vary so it is best to research the different possibilities. GCSE's can be undertaken at most of the schools, while the Spanish LOGSE system is also a popular choice. International schools offer your child the opportunity for a wider education in the company of pupils from varied backgrounds and cultures. Most international schools also pride themselves on maintaining small classes, which allow for a greater degree of personalized tuition.
More and more ex-pats are deciding to integrate their children into the state schools. To do this, it is necessary to possess the relevant documentation for enrolment. Ideally this process should be undertaken before moving to Spain, because until it is completed no school will accept your child. This documentation process can be costly and can take time. As in British state schools, the catchment area is all-important, so having decided on your chosen school it is essential to ensure that your house (whether purchased or rented) is located in the correct area.
Spanish private schools are becoming increasingly popular. The private sector offers Spanish education in an environment with a lower student/teacher ratio than provided by a state school.
Most schools prefer to interview prospective pupils, with exams being set in some cases to ascertain the level of Spanish attained. The official enrolment procedure requires that parents provide their local Town Hall with the following documentation:
• State education is free of charge, but parents are expected to purchase books.
The Spanish system of education is divided into three stages: ESO (Compulsory Secondary Education), BUP (the equivalent of British GCSE's) and COU (the Spanish version of the A level course). In addition, university applicants are expected to complete the Selectividad, an entrance exam. English parents can access work/books via the internet to supplement their child's education
The private schools offer a variety of syllabi including the British GCSE and A level
examination courses. Advice about British schools in Spain can be obtained from
the British Council:
(Paseo Martinez Campos, 31, 28/010 Madrid, Tel: 913 373 500).
State education in Spain is co-educational and is entirely free from nursery to university and this includes the children of foreign nationals. Information about Spanish schools, both state and private, can be obtained from Spanish embassies and consulates abroad, and from foreign embassies, educational organizations and government departments in Spain. Information about local schools can also be obtained from the town halls.
Schooling is compulsory in Spain for children age 6 to 16 years. Public education is free, but books and materials are not provided free (but in Andalucia, grants are available for families on low incomes).
Education from 0-6 years is referred to as infants education (Educacia Infantil), from 6 to 12 years, Primary Education (Educacia Primaria) and from 12 to 16 years, Secondary Education (Educacia Secundaria Obligitar). Infants education below the age of 3, that is, in the first "cycle" is hard to find and likely to be non existent in the province of Almeria. Provision for infants between the ages of 3 and 6 years varies, is likely to be part-time in Almeria province and is not compulsory. There are specialist schools too, e.g. for music, dance and art. Also, for parents who find it impossible to get their children to school, residential units. Children with special needs are integrated into mainstream school where possible.
Secondary education (ESO) starts at 12 years (as opposed to 11 years which is generally so in England) when children attend a secondary school (often called an IES or Institutio Educacion Secundaria). Some schools in Almeria are effectively combination schools and take children from or during the second "cycle" of Primary (age 3 years up) through to the second year of ESO at 14 years. These children then go onto Secondary school. 14 is an important age as this is when students start the last cycles of compulsory education and the outcome of studies will dictate the route at 16. Post 16, students can undertake vocational training or carry on with their studies for a further 2 or 3 years.
The law relating to education in Spain has changed and in Andalucia evolved since 1972. The framework emanates from the LOGSE 1/1970 and this is the law that dictates the national educational framework. The old qualifications of the COU and BUP have been replaced and in Andalucia, the last students studying for these qualifications left school last year (2002). Instead of the COU (or lots of GCSE's, as is the case in England) students who successfully complete their secondary education are awarded with a Graduado en Educacia Secundaria.
The choices at post 16 are vocational training, work, or at a higher level, study leading to one of 4 types of Bachelor (academic or vocational). Success in all modules of the Bac. leads to a Bachelor Diploma.
Entrance for students (with appropriate qualifications) to Spanish University is usually by way of examination.
It is important to note that the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC) legislates for the whole of Spain. However, Spain is a large country with different cultures and languages. Some communities are autonomous and have their own parliaments. Andalucia is a region, but also an Autonomous Community. Almeria is a province in Andalucia. Bordering Murcia is not in Andalucia. Therefore, the educational provision will not be the same in Murcia as it is in Almeria. The neighbouring province of Granada is in Andalucia, so controlled by the Andalucian government too.
The Andalucian government makes laws and decisions about educational provision for the regions within Andalucia. Responsibility is then passed to the regional governments, in this case Almeria. The town halls of the various municipalities have some involvement in terms of local administration.
This is a broad guide to the curriculum areas in the whole of Spain, according to the framework set by MEC, without reference to any regional variation in Andalucia. For example, in Andalucia, Language and Literature will include Andalucian Literature & Culture, even though there is not a co-official language.
Ciencias de la Naturaleza: the Natural Sciences -eg Biology, Physics,Chemistry,Geology
Ciencias Sociales, Geology Historia: Social Sciences -eg Geography, History.
Lenguas extranjeras: Foreign Languages -eg English and/or French and/or German
Private schools can be funded by individuals, cooperatives, businesses etc., or can be subsidized by the state. Spanish private schools that are subsidized are called Concertados. In Almeria, the Concertados are concentrated in the city of Almeria. Elsewhere there are few private schools, this is probably because traditionally, Almeria was a poor and rural area, at least away from the coastal resorts.
There are no private international schools in Almeria province that follow the British style of education. Parents wanting this for their children should perhaps think about living in another province such as in Granada or Malaga. The best choice of international schools is in the province of Malaga, however the Almuñecar International School, in Almuñecar, on the Costa Tropical is probably the nearest, at least to Almeria city. There are private international schools where the language of instruction would be English, in Murcia province, but these do not necessarily follow the British curriculum.
In order to enrol children in a public Spanish school, parents must first have somewhere to live. The choice of location will dictate where the children go to school. There is no parental choice of public (state) school, as there is in England. Try not to leave enrolment any later than the previous April before the next academic year and have, at least, proof of address in Almeria.. Parents may or may not be asked for immunisation/vaccination certificates and if applicable, previous school records, translated and stamped as authentic. Almeria can be rather laid back on the formalities, but plan ahead and get that address in Spain!
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