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Types of schools in Spain


Nursery or pre-school (preescolar)    -    aged 3 – 5


Primary school (escuela primaria)     -   aged 6 – 12


Secondary education (educación secundaria obligatoria/ESO)  aged 12 - 16


Private school ( escuela privada)


Compulsory education (escolaridad obligatoria) is also referred to as a basic general education (Educación General Básica/EGB)


At 16 years of age:


Pupils who haven’t successfully completed four years secondary education are awarded a school certificate (certificado de escolaridad).

Pupils who have completed the four years, successfully are awarded a graduado en educación secundaria certificate and may attend a higher secondary school (or the same school in some cases) to study for their baccalaureate (bachillerato) leading to university entrance.(Universidad)

Students may attend a vocational school (formación profesional) providing specialised training for a specific career.


Schools which cater for children with Special Needs.

Pupils are taught in mainstream schools unless their individual needs cannot be catered for. In these instances children are taught in special educational units or schools. There are special state schools in Spain for pupils with special educational needs and learning difficulties .

A general criticism of Spanish state schools made by many foreigners is the lack of extra-curricular activities such as sport, music, drama, and arts and crafts. State schools don’t have school clubs or sports teams and if children want to do team sports they must usually join a local club. However, although they aren’t part of the curriculum, sports and other activities are generally organised through parents’ and sports associations. Fees are low and activities usually take place directly after school.

Vacaciones escolares – School holidays


The school year is made up of three terms, averaging around 11 weeks each. 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 break. The majority of schools in Benalmadena finish between 2:00 – 2:30 pm. Schools are closed on public holidays if they fall within term time. (Also for special events / local fiestas which are regional.

Integration into Spanish society


Education is Spain is mostly co educational and entirely free from nursery through to university.

(This is inclusive of foreign resident children)

Spain’s state funded school system is supported by private schools, these includes many foreign and international schools.


Some schools offer lunches, although many children bring a packed lunch or go home for lunch if they live nearby. Although an increasing number of schools don’t have lunch breaks and will finish classes earlier at 2pm.


Most schools provide a subsidised free bus service to tale children to and form their homes. You will need to clarify this for individual schools.

State schools and communities may provide an after school nursery (guarderia) for parents who work.

Having made the decision to send a child to a state school, you should stick to it for at least a year to give it a fair trial, as it can take a child this long to fully adapt to a new language, the change of environment and the different curriculum.


Please remember that it is much easier to change from a state school to a private school. Changing from a private to a state school is far more difficult, especially if your children are teenagers.


Many foreign parents choose to educate younger children in the Spanish nursery and primary sectors, where learning the language is a quicker and simpler process. At secondary level the children are educated at a private school.


Spanish universities tend to be overcrowded but their educational standards are on a par with European universities. Although foreign parents who can afford to educate their children in foreign universities (especially American and British) choose this option as the courses are more flexible and shorter.

Before making any major decisions concerning your children’s future education, it is of paramount importance that you consider their ability, character, educational strengths and individual requirements.


Attending a state school helps children integrate into the local community and learn the local language, and is highly recommended if you plan to remain in Spain for any length of time. Although it may not appeal initially, given the choice many British children prefer to attend Spanish school and become part of the local community.


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10 secrets every spanish property buyer should know
10 Secrets Every Spanish Property Buyer Should Know
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