Children in Spain   

Schools in Spain

If you are thinking of moving to Spain and you have children, you will need to start thinking about their schooling as soon as possible. If you plan to move to one of the big cities or in an expat area, such as the Costa Blanca or the Costa del Sol, then your biggest choice you will be between sending them to a Spanish school or to a biligual or international school. If you plan to move to a less popular area of Spain then you may not get such a choice.

International Schools
There are private international schools in most major resort towns, where your child can receive lessons in English. Some of these schools also teach UK exam courses (GCSEs and A Levels) but most use the International Baccalaureate or the Spanish bachilllerato syllabuses. Price (and quality) varies, but overall private education in Spain is cheaper than in the UK. the National Association of british Schools in Spain is a good place to start looking for international schools.

Bilingual Schools
Bilingual schools exist in many Spanish cities and teach the Spanish curriculum, with additional lessons taught by native English speakers. Most of the students in such schools are Spanish and therefore the language will still be an issue you need to think about.

Spanish Schools
Attending a Spanish school, whether state or private, is probably the best way for your children to integrate into Spanish society. State schools have improved tremendously in recent decades and in general, are of a comparable quality with those in other EU countries, although the teaching methods used may differ.

School in Spain is not compulsory until the age of 6, but children generally start school in the autumn of the year in which they turn 3. The legal maximum class size in primary schools is 25, with one teacher and a "floating" classroom assistant who helps out with several classes. There is special provision for children over the age of 6 who donít speak Spanish as a first language.

Enrollment procedures vary from region to region and also from school to school. However for most schools, you will only be guaranteed a place if you enroll in the Spring - usually March or April.

Learning the Language
In theory, children up to the age of 9 will pick up Spanish within a year or so simply by mixing with Spanish children (the exact age varies). Even so we would suggest giving any child over the age of 4 some sort of beginner lessons in Spanish either before you go or soon after you get there because it will help them to make friends and to get on with other schoolwork. Even younger children will benefit from as much exposure to Spanish as you can give them - whether that's from a Spanish speaking friend, from the TV or from yourself.

Older children will usually need more help. Private tuition is one solution: the going rate in Spain is 6-12 Euros an hour. Also since older children generally find it harder to settle in to a new school, it is highly recommended that they receive some tuition in Spanish for as long as possible before you leave.

If you are thinking of moving to Catalonia, the Balearics or the Basque region, remember to find out what language the schools teach in. Many schools in those areas teach most lessons in the local language (Catalan, Basque, etc) and only teach Spanish as a foreign language. While this is not necessarily a bad thing it is certainly worth considering. You will also need to bear in mind that proof of immunisation is necessary for enrolment into any Spanish state school, although some schools may neglect to ask for it.

Teaching Your Child Spanish - Resources

Here are some sites and products you might find helpful in helping your child learn Spanish.

Spanish Picture Dictionary
Useful for building your child's Spanish vocabulary. Your children will either need to be able to read, or you will need to learn the basics of Spanish pronunciation and read it with them.

Children's Multilingual Dictionary
Click on either the British flag or the Spanish flag to go to a list of words with translations. Slightly awkward to use, but does contain sound clips for pronunciation.

BBC Spanish Courses
An excellent internet based course for adults and older children.

Let's Sing and Learn in Spanish (from
An excellent way to introduce younger children to the sounds of Spanish. Includes a CD.

Spanish for Beginners (from
A good introductory text book with cassette for all ages.


Site last updated July 2017.
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