Schools in Spain  

The standard of Spanish education is high, and expats will have a variety of options when it comes to finding a school for their child. There are public, private (colegios privados), semi-private (colegios concertados) and international schools in the country. These institutions range from Catholic to secular, and co-educational to single-gendered.

Education is compulsory in Spain for children between the ages of six and 16, and the school year typically runs from mid-September to the end of June.

Expats only planning to stay in Spain for a short time, or those with older children, generally opt for an international school.

Before venturing to another country, make sure you have a health insurance plan you can rely on. Our international health insurance plans offer comprehensive health cover for when you are in your home country and abroad.

The standard of the public school system in Spain is high. These schools are free for all children to attend, including expats, as long as they have registered on the municipal register, or empadronamiento, at their local town hall. That said, parents will have to pay for schoolbooks and extra-curricular activities.

Children usually attend the state school in closest proximity to their homes until secondary school, when the principle of catchment zones takes effect.

The primary teaching language of public schools is generally Spanish, or sometimes the language of the region, such as Catalan in Barcelona. Public schools tend to be best for very young children who can easily overcome the language barrier, and for expat families who plan to live in Spain long term.

Semi-private schools are usually former private schools subsidised by the Spanish government. Semi-private schools often teach through a religious lens, usually Catholic. Fees are low, and in some cases, non-existent. These schools are a good option for parents who would prefer smaller class sizes for their children, but the standard of each semi-private school is usually dependent on its location. The primary teaching language in these schools is also Spanish or the regional language, while the curriculum is the Spanish state curriculum.

Private schools in Spain are numerous and have annual tuition fees, which can be rather steep. These schools are assumed to have smaller class sizes, higher quality facilities and a greater array of extra-curricular activities.

Unless the private school is a bilingual school or an international school, the primary teaching language is Spanish or the co-official language of the region.

Demand can be high for the more prestigious private schools in Spain, and in order to enrol their children, expats will have to move fast.

International schools in Spain are private schools that teach an international curriculum, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the curriculum of another country. Short-term expats usually favour these schools because they allow their children to continue learning the curriculum of their home country in a language that they are familiar with.

Most urban centres in Spain have a good assortment of international schools, with the most popular curricula at these schools being the British or American systems. However, there are also schools offering German, Swedish, Swiss and French curricula, among others.

Many of these schools are situated on the outskirts of Spanish cities. Parents should keep this in mind when choosing a neighbourhood in which to live, as well as where the school is in relation to their place of work.

Admission procedures vary from one school to the next, so it’s best to correspond with each school individually. It’s recommended that expats bring their child’s previous school year report card and their immunisation records to any interviews.