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So you are moving to Spain with young children and your one of your main concern is their education.

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is do you want to spend an absolute fortune on your kids education?

If you want to go down the international school route, be prepared it is not cheap, but is it effective?

Here at Perfect Place, we have a wealth of experience of both the private and public system, and we are more than happy to share our experience with you.

So here goes……

We were completely resolute that when our kids got to school age that they would stay in the spanish school system for their entire education. We were doing well, last year they were 14 and 16 years old, and had spent all their time in the Spanish system. However just over a year ago, you would have found me standing outside an expensive international school, sobbing about lost holidays we now could not afford, and waving my daughter off.

In order to explain my decision I should first tell you our experience of Spanish education, and that is exactly what it is, our experience.

Firstly, spanish schools are very academic. Music and art are there but not really, mine went for a full year without art because their teachers that year thought it was a waste of time. Drama, not so much either. The attitude was that if you want your kids to do the arts, then there are numerous reasonable after school clubs, and there are. After school classes are plentiful and extremely reasonable, and the choice is vast.

From the age of 6, they have exams every month in each of the core subjects. If they fail the year, they repeat. It is normal in Spain to repeat, and there is not the social stigma that you would expect.
There are benefits to the repeating system, my son was behind at 8 so repeated, and it was the best thing that happened to him. He went into a class that was his level not just academically but also socially, I hear that again and again from other parents.

It is due to the lost year of education, that I did the unspeakable and joined the expats (and quite a few spanish) who are willing to part with a lot of cash to get their kids a decent start. Is it better? Well……
One thing I do know is that it is better funded (obviously). Since Covid, like in the UK, the school systems are struggling to recover. Up until Covid I would have said I was very happy with the education; I would never have said it was very well equipped, but it was certainly a solid education.

My son is still in spanish education, he is going into his last year of compulsory schooling, and I suspect he will leave even if he does not get his final certificate. Spanish learning has never been for him, but he loves school and did not want to transfer to an international school like his sister.

On the plus side of a spanish education, I am certain that their illiteracy rates are very low in our region. The rigorous exams mean that no one can fall through the net, any problems are picked out early.

The very best things for me about the spanish education system in primary, is the teachers, who truly love their students. Every morning the kids were greeted by cuddles, and although there were a few exceptions, my kids loved them. Attending a public school without a doubt helps you integrate in your local community and helps you and your children establish roots.

Now, on to my experience of International schools, of which I have experience of one school personally and quite a bit of information that fellow parents tell me. Firstly, the classes are smaller, much smaller in my daughters case. She has 14 in her class, and personal teaching if she doesn’t understand a subject.
The facilities are great, and music and drama are high on the agenda. But the main thing I have noticed, is the desire to instil confidence in the children, and encourage them to speak out. My daughter was shy, and was getting shyer in spanish school, now she is public speaking and expressing her views. There are issues without a doubt, some teachers are questionable still, but the headmasters door is always open, which is a policy I am sure he has regretted at times.

So, if asked, I would recommend a good international school above Spanish public education. However….my kids were born in Spain or arrived very young, what if your child is not going to International school fluent like mine did? Then I would advise you to let your kids go to a Spanish School for a few years, helping them develop friends and their language skills. even if it was not in your plan originally. I have friends whose kids have only attended international schools and do not speak Spanish. They are strangers in the country they were brought up in, and inevitably, they go to the UK when they are 18 to a country which is often a stranger to them too.

The fact that your child will integrate into Spanish life, and they will speak spanish like a native is itself a huge gift, and a huge benefit for their future. Also, by default, you will integrate too, it is very easy with an international school to never integrate and to never speak the language. It is an opportunity missed definitely.

It is a tough choice, and if you choose the International school it is also costly. However, the choice is there, and there are some very good schools along the Costa del Sol. One thing to remember about the public system is that you do not choose the school, you are assigned a school. This is good in so much as you do not have to stress about choosing a particular school, and helped in Estepona by all the public primary schools being good.

So the choice is yours, but if you need any more information or you would just like to chat through your options, give us a call on 0034 672 212 368.

We are always happy to tell you our experience, and you can take from that whatever is useful to you. Like I mentioned before, this is only my experience, and other people’s will be different.

If you do give us a call, we might also bore you with stories of amazing Estepona at the same time, but it would be rude not to.