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Spanish Schools
The Spanish education system has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. Previously the system was elitist and secondary education was mostly private. University was out of the question for the majority of young people.


Today the story is very different. School attendance is now free and compulsory for all children between the ages of six and 15. Ninety-five per cent of children aged four to five are now in pre-school education and more than 55 per cent of children stay on at school until the age of 18.

The student body at universities now numbers over a million. It is interesting to note that female students now outnumber the males in secondary education and in the first years at university.

Spain has a state funded school system along with private schools and a range of international / foreign schools. Around 30% of Spain's' schoolchildren attend private schools the majority of which are co-educational.

The line between public, private and church schools can be blurred, with many nominally private or church schools receiving their principal support from the state.

International and foreign schools are the only schools which use English as the teaching language. If your children attend any other schools they will be taught their lessons in Spanish.

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.

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

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.

The National Association of British Schools in Spain (NABSS) was founded in 1978 and represents the interests of some 40 schools, dotted around Spain, mainly in the areas where there are a high number of expatriates. The main aim of the association is to protect the interests of the member schools and those of the parents and children.

The association uses well qualified staff and up-to-date teaching methods. The schools are also popular with Spanish parents for the quality they offer. Further details can be obtained by visiting their website at National Association of British Schools in Spain.

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.

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 don’t speak Spanish as a first language.

State School Education
State education is free, but parents must usually pay for school books (which are expensive, although they are provided free in certain cases), school supplies and extra curricular activities. For most Spanish children, school starts with nursery or pre-school at the age of 4 or 5.

At fourteen, the child receives a school leaving certificate. Those with higher marks are able to attend a higher secondary school with less academic pupils moving onto a vocational school.

Enrolling in a Spanish school requires an interview. New arrivals in Spain must have their children's education record verified which can be a long and expensive process. This is called convalidation. A pupil will not be accepted with the necessary paperwork so is best to get this done before arriving in Spain so the child can immediately enter upon arrival in the country.

Enrolment 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 enrol in the Spring - usually March or April.

To enrol you must also have:

· proof of convalidation (see above)
· your child's birth certificate or passport, proof of immunization;
· proof of residence in the form of a bill in your name. If you haven't got one then a rent receipt, or lease is      acceptable.
· a passport-size photograph (for a student ID card) for a child entering secondary school.

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 Amazon.co.uk)
An excellent way to introduce younger children to the sounds of Spanish. Includes a CD.

Spanish for Beginners (from Amazon.co.uk)
A good introductory text book with cassette for all ages.

Spanish school hours: These vary from place to place and according to type of school. One typical schedule would run from 09.00 until 17.00 with a two hour break for lunch; another typical schedule would go from 09.00 with no break and finish classes for the day at 14.00. When there is a lunch break of more than hour, students typically have the option to go home for lunch, which many do to take lunch with their entire family.

 

The British School of Gran Canaria
Is an independent, non-profit making, non-denominational school that provides a complete education for boys and girls of all nationalities from nursery to university entrance.

The education is based on the British model and with the exception of Spanish language and humanities classes, the medium for learning is English. The School and its studies are fully recognised by the Spanish authorities.

Although the School is geared towards providing a British education in an English-speaking environment, it prides itself on being a rich mix of many cultures all of whom unite with ease to form the ethos which is the British School.

The school has two sites. The parent school which caters for children from 2-18 together with the main office is situated between Tafira and Marzagan and enjoys delightful views of the "Pico de Bandama" and adjacent countryside. The South centre, which caters for children from 2-11, is located centrally within the Maspalomas. The pleasant school campuses combined with the high quality of teaching ensure that the pupils work and develop in a warm, happy atmosphere. Each pupil is treated as an individual who is encouraged to achieve their full potential in a caring and supportive environment.


Oakley College
Co-educational nursery and primary school catering to 190 pupils, 3-12 years old, of all nationalities. The school follows the British National Curriculum and prepares children to continue their education in English or Spanish secondary school.

The American School of Las Palmas
ASLP is a private, non-profit, coeducational organization incorporated in the state of Delaware, USA, registered and recognized by the Ministry of Education in Spain.

Pre-School through 12th grade students study a coordinated educational program incorporating the American and Spanish systems, and the most effective international theories and practices of education.

Canterbury School
The Canterbury School is a co-educational day school offering a British style education based on the National Curriculum to children between the ages of 3 and 18.

From the age of six onwards pupils receive instruction in Spanish language, literature, history and geography as stipulated by Spanish law which means that at any moment they may transfer to the Spanish system of education if necessary.

 
COBISEC http://www.cobisec.org
Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria http://www.ulpgc.es
FULP - University Residence of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria http://www.fulp.ulpgc.es
National Association of British Schools in Spain http://www.nabss.org
El Colegio de Abogados http://www.colegiodeabogadosdelaspalmas.com
   
For more in depth information on this topic, we highly recommend:
Living and Working in Spain 2006: A Survival Handbook

Click the link above to check the price at Amazon.co.uk
 
 

Best choice, before, during and after the holiday!

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