Whether you’ve been living in Marbella for a while or you’re moving your family to Spain for the first time, it’s not easy to decide which of the area’s school will best suit your child. Each type of school has its pros and cons so it’s all about figuring out where you see your child fitting in. Here is a guide to the types of schools in the area.
When it comes to schools in Marbella, you basically have three options:
Enrolling your child at a Spanish state-funded school is free and will enable your child to intergrate fully into Spanish life as well become fluent in the language very quickly. Around 80% of British expats opt for state education for their children and the younger they are, the quicker and easier it is for them to integrate. However, parents must pay for any extra curricular activities and supply their child with school books and materials, although it’s possible for low-income families to apply for a grant for these.
There are a large number of international schools to choose from in the Marbella area, many of which offer billingual education (English and Spanish) and prepare puplis for the ‘Bachillerato’ – an internationally recognised qualification. Most international schools also offer excellent facilities (such as tennis courts, horse stables, swimming pools and golf courses), a varied range of extra curricula activities, private bus lines and high security. There are fees for international schools but your child will intergrate with mixed nationalities and receive a higher standard of education than that of a Spanish state school. Fees start at around 4,000€ per annum and can rise to as much as 10,000€ for the higher-end international schools. There are a number of British schools along the Costa del Sol, including Marbella, which teach the British curriculum and prepare pupils for their GCSEs. Classes are smaller and a wider range of subjects are taught. Some British schools belong to NABSS (National Association of British Schools in Spain) – an accredited organisation which ensures high standards are maintained by British inspectors.
There are a number of Spanish schools which also charge fees. They teach entirely in Spanish and generally follow the same curricula as the state schools. Fees vary but on average start at no less than 700€ per annum.
Once you’ve decided on the best school for your child, it’s time to start applying. However, there are different ways of doing this, depending on the type of school you’re aiming for.
You need to do this as soon as possible as demand for places is extremely high. You must contact the school directly at any time during the school year. You also need to provide school reports, exam results and any other records from your child’s previous school.
Most Spanish schools accept applications around May for that September’s intake but this can be a lengthy process so get the ball rolling as soon as possible. First, you need to obtain the appropriate forms from the UK Department of Education in order to submit ‘proof of convalidation’ to the Spanish school. This is an official record of your child’s previous education and without it; they cannot be accepted at any school. It’s much simpler to apply for the record while you’re still in the UK as it could take up to 6 months to process.
Once you have the required documents, you need to contact the school to arrange an interview.
To find out more, contact The Department of Education, Spain on 0034 917 018 000.
Next, you need to apply for an ‘empadronamiento’ – this is a document which must be registered at your local Town Hall in Spain. Make sure you take your passport (and photocopies) with you, as well as proof of your address and details of your Spanish bank account, rent receipt or lease.
You’ll also need a copy of your child’s birth certificate/passport, vaccination records, proof of residence and two passport-sized photographs.
For the tiny tots, nursery education in Spain is from three to six years, while primary education is from six to twelve. In the latter, they’ll learn subjects like Spanish language, mathematics, history, and art. uder the ages of 6, schooling in Spain in non obligatory. There are many guardarias, both private and state run to choose from along the Costa Del Sol.
I can personally recommend this school in San Pedro for children under the age of 6, (although the school is in the process of making it for children up to 8 yrs or older). I did a lot of searching and asking around to find a school that I was completely comfortable with and also a school that was flexible with it’s hours.
The Marbella Montessori school is set up as an actual school, with a timetable for different lessons and activites, this is unlike a guardaria where the children’s day is made up of supervised play or painting! I was so happy to have found the Marbella Montessori School in San Pedro.
My daughter advanced dramatically in her time there. Literally within a few weeks of going to the school her confidence, manners and especially her conversation levels soared to the point that friends and strangers started commenting how advanced she was for her age. I found the location of it great aswell, easy parking, right next to the beach. They had local Spanish children, French, Swedish and English children. The teachers are multi lingual and have a native Spanish teacher there daily.
I personally recommend this school to anyone. For more information on The Marbella Montessori School visist their website at www.themarbellamontessori.com