The Becks Blog
Practical Guides and Tips About Moving to and Living in Spain
Practical Guides and Tips About Moving to and Living in Spain
Moving to a new country can be an exciting but overwhelming experience, especially when it comes to finding the right school for your children. In Spain, a beautiful and culturally rich country, the education system offers a range of options for both local and foreign students.
This blog post aims to guide foreign families through the process of choosing schools in Spain, highlighting state schools and their bilingual programs.
Choosing a School: What to Consider
As a foreigner, there are a few factors to consider when choosing a school in Spain. First and foremost, consider the location. Spain is a diverse country, with distinct regions, each offering a unique cultural experience.
Research the different regions and cities to find the one that aligns with your preferences and needs. Additionally, consider the curriculum, extracurricular activities, language immersion opportunities, and the school's reputation.
Preschool Education in Spain
Preschool education is highly valued in Spain, and it has one of the highest preschool enrollment rates in Europe. According to theSpanish government, preschool education caters to children aged between 0 and 6. The first stage of preschool education is Nursery schools (guarderías), which cater to children from three months to three years old.
The second stage, kindergarten or infant school (escuela infantil) is for children from three to six years old. Attending preschool is not mandatory in Spain, but it's highly recommended, especially since children who have completed pre-education have a higher chance of academic success.
Parents can choose between public or private preschool centers, which differ in their curricula, teachers' schedules, afterschool activities, and fees. Public centers follow the Spanish educational system's compulsory curriculum and provide education for free.
Still, admission requirements, registration processes, and waiting lists vary from one autonomous region to another. Private centers, on the other hand, have more flexible admission requirements, curricula, and provide extended hours and better extracurricular activities options for an additional fee.
State Schools in Spain
Bilingual Programs in Spanish State Schools
Many state schools in Spain now offer bilingual programs, known as "Programas Bilingües." These programs aim to enhance students' language skills by providing instruction in both Spanish and another language, typically English.
The availability and quality of these programs vary from region to region and school to school, so it's essential to research and inquire about the specific schools you are considering.
Special Educational Needs
Special educational needs provision in state schools in Spain refers to the support and specific educational attention provided to learners with disabilities or serious communication, language, or behavioral disorders. The Spanish government emphasizes the inclusion of special needs children within mainstream schools, provided that the necessary facilities and resources are available. To achieve this, schools are encouraged to have integration teachers, speech therapists, and other specialists on staff.
The aim is to ensure that all learners, regardless of their special educational needs, have equal access to education, are present in the classroom, actively participate, and have the opportunity to learn and thrive.The specific measures for special educational needs provision may vary depending on the individual needs of the students and the resources available at each school. These measures may include adapted teaching methods, individualized education plans, additional support from specialized staff, or the use of assistive technologies.
The Spanish education system acknowledges the importance of providing support to students with special educational needs to enable their full participation and success in the educational process. Each student's needs are assessed individually, and educational support is tailored to meet their specific requirements. The goal is to foster an inclusive educational environment where all students have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential.
It is worth noting that specialized provisions and separate special education needs provision may also exist in early childhood and school education, depending on the specific needs of the students.
Navigating the Application Process
To enroll your child in a state school in Spain, you will need to follow some essential steps. First, gather the required documents, such as your child's birth certificate, passport, and any previous academic records. Contact the local education authority or the school directly to inquire about the specific enrollment process.
It's also essential to keep in mind that some schools may have limited spaces, so it's advisable to start the application process well in advance.
Additional Considerations for Foreign Families
For foreign families, adjusting to a new school system and culture can be challenging. However, Spanish state schools are known for their inclusive environment, welcoming foreign students and providing support through specialized language programs.
If your child doesn't speak Spanish fluently, consider enrolling them in language classes or seeking out extracurricular activities that provide additional language support.
Choosing a school in Spain as a foreigner can initially seem overwhelming. However, with careful consideration of the factors mentioned above and thorough research, you can find the school that best suits your child's needs. Whether you opt for a state school or explore bilingual programs, rest assured that the Spanish education system prides itself on offering quality education and a welcoming atmosphere for all students, regardless of their nationality or background.
Remember, embarking on this educational journey will not only provide your child with an incredible learning experience but also the opportunity to immerse themselves in the vibrant Spanish culture, fostering their personal growth and broadening their horizons.
Wayne and Jo are a married couple living in Spain, but split their time between working on their house there and renovating a chapel in Wales. With four dogs to look after and a business to run, life is never dull in the Becks' household.