COSTA BLANCA SCHOOLS
Costa Blanca Schools
Schools at the Costa Blanca
At Altea Moraira Villas, we are very aware of the fact that moving to Spain is not just finding and acquiring a new property, especially for families with kids. With most of us at the office having children of our own, we know finding a good school for your kids is just as important as finding the right property, because the education of our children is essential, and something we care about.
As one of the go-to real estate agents in Altea, at the Costa Blanca North, we go much further than just selling properties, because we believe that guiding our clients through every process of moving to Spain is important and helpful. We will never sell a property and disappear because that’s not how you guide an international client, so, without further ago, let’s head straight into this guide about schools at the Costa Blanca, and the educational system in Spain.
Does Spain have a good education system?
This question is very common for people looking to find the right school or making the right decision for their children.
There is no “yes or no” answer because this is very subjective, and everyone can have their own opinion, but the facts state that Spain is currently ranked in the top 11 of educational systems according to the European Commission.
I have personally studied in Spain my entire life, and in recent years, Spains’s education system has improved vastly in terms of teaching quality, innovation, infrastructure, and even curriculum to adapt to Spanish and foreign pupils who wish to pursue their studies in a country that offers a host of opportunities.
What are the basics of the Spanish education system?
In Spain, the education system is completely managed by every autonomous region, and it offers a very wide range of high-quality public and private schools.
Education in Spain is free for all kids aged between 6 – 16 years old, even though education is not compulsory once your children become 16, which is the age where they decide whether they want to continue studying upper-level secondary education ( Bachillerato “2 years”), go for vocational training or work.
What to consider when looking for the right school in Spain?
It is very important to keep in mind the region you are planning to move to because as I previously mentioned, autonomous regions have complete control, which means that there are differences in schooling procedures, school hours, and application period.
In this case, and for this guide, we will be focusing on the Costa Blanca, which belongs to the Valencian Community, so the Autonomous Government of Valencia sets the rules.
In Spain, we have 3 types of schools: Public schools, private schools, and semi-private schools (concertado) which are subsidized by the government but run privately.
Here you have some key points to keep in mind when looking for the right school at the Costa Blanca:
- Spanish (Castellano), is the main language for education in Spain, but depending on the region, there are co-official languages that come additionally. At the Costa Blanca, this would be the Valencian language (Valenciano), because we’re part of the Valencian Community. This means that learning Valencian at school is compulsory, and even some classes such as history, and natural science are taught in this language.
- Try to make a wish list of your expectations before starting your search. Write everything down from the curriculum to the language, to the preferences of your kids in terms of extracurricular activities. Then take your list of schools, arrange a visit to each of them and make sure to ask all of your questions such as subjects taught, number of pupils in class, special immersion programs, school hours, etc.
- Bear in mind that the first application process is normally in May, at the Costa Blanca. You can apply out of this period, but then your options may get very limited. Also keep in mind that you may face a waiting list, so you must check and track application times.
- If your idea is to go with a public school, and your Spanish is not good enough, it is highly recommended that you take a Spanish-speaking friend with you to translate, because in most public schools it will be hard to find an English-speaking administrator or secretariat.
- To see the list of schools in your area, you can check the official website of education in Valencia (Guía de Centros Docentes), which is where you’ll find all relevant information about public schools. For private ones, each school usually counts with its website.
How is the public school system in Spain?
The first and main question is usually whether schooling is free in Spain, and as I already mentioned in this guide, education is free and all the kids of compulsory education have a guaranteed place in a state school. Being registered in the town hall (Ayuntamiento) with a “Padron” is enough for enrolment.
Education in Spain is compulsory for all children between 6 – 16 years of age, and it is divided into elementary and middle school. Primary school (primaria) goes from 6 – 12 years, and middle school (secundaria/ESO) goes from 12 to 16 years.
Once you finish middle school at the age of 16, there are a few options to go for:
- Bachillerato: Bachillerato is considered the upper level of secondary education, and it consists of another 2 years, which (if everything goes well), finished at the age of 18. Bachillerato, followed by an entry test, gives you direct access to university, or you can go straight to “grado-superior” which I’ll explain next.
- Grado Medio: Grado Medio is considered vocational training, which is usually for people that have a very specific and clear idea of what they want to learn, as this is usually much more practical than university, which is much more theoretical. Grado Medio takes 2 years as well, but once done, it doesn’t give you much access to anything, because you have to follow this up with another 2 years of “grado-superior”, which is the upper level of the vocational training. Once you finish the 4 years of vocational training, you can either work or still opt to go to university, where you’ll get direct access to the subjects that you’ve studied in your vocational training.
- Work: Working full-time at the age of 16 is not very common in Spain, but it’s a valid option because it is no longer compulsory to study once you’re 16 years old.
What are the languages taught in Spanish schools?
As we’ve previously talked about, education belongs to the autonomous regions, so we have to keep in mind co-official languages such as Valencian in the area of Valencia, Catalan in Catalonia, Gallego in Galicia, or Basque in country-Basque.
The Costa Blanca belongs to the Valencian region, which means that in all public schools. Valencian will be compulsory, but do not be too stressed about it because many centers offer immersion support for pupils.
Private schools do not always make Valencian compulsory, and they usually have a bigger focus on international languages such as English.
Which are the best international schools at the Costa Blanca?
You will find many international school options at the Costa Blanca, and the better choices would be all the schools that are members of organizations like NABBS (National Association of British Schools in Spain) or COBISEC (the Council of British Independent Schools in the European Community).
How much are international school fees at the Costa Blanca?
Fees of international schools range from 2.000€ to 10.000€ per year. Generally, this fee does not include extra’s such as stationery, lunch, excursions, transport; which means an additional cost of around 1.000€ per year.
This information is very general, and I have not contacted all the schools to ask their prices, so for those who want to dig deeper, please make sure to contact the school you’re interested in, and ask about all the relevant information.
Costa Blanca International Schools list
Here are some of the most known and well-reputed international schools at the Costa Blanca:
Located on the outskirts of Alicante, this is a British school designed for children from Nursery (3 years old) to the Baccalaureate level (18 years old). The school follows the English National Curriculum and Spanish Curriculum with bilingual education in English and Spanish.
Founded in 1991 and situated in Elche, Alicante, this school offers education from Early Years to the Spanish Baccalaureate level. In Early Years and Primary Education, it follows the British Curriculum, and in Secondary Education and Baccalaureate, it meets the requirements of the Spanish Educational System. With the Valencian language in Early Years and German by the sixth year of Primary education, the kids will have a multi-lingual education.
The Primary and Secondary Schools are on one campus on the Benitachell, Alicante which is a beautiful area on the Costa Blanca. Founded in 1987, the school offers both English and Spanish curriculums for the graduates to move on to universities in the UK, Spain, and the rest of Europe.
- Xabia International College
XIC admits students from Pre-Nursery to Sixth Form and follows the British National Curriculum as well as the Spanish Curriculum. The College is currently situated over two sites, as Primary and Secondary, and will have a new Secondary school campus which is on the building process in Javea (Xabia).
The school is located in the town of La Nucia and is a member of IEP (International Education Partnership) which is an education group that owns several private schools in Spain. IEP is also a subsidiary of a group of successful schools in Sweden; Internationella Engelska Skolan. The English National curriculum is applied from Nursery to the end of the Primary and Spanish Curriculum leads up to the Spanish Baccalaureate.
ELIS follows the National Curriculum for England and Wales and also offers American and Spanish university preparation. The school is for pupils aged 3 to 18. The majority of students are Spanish but also some from over 20 different countries. The school has 2 campuses one in Villamartin, Alicante the other is in Murcia.
Located in San Miguel de Salinas on the Costa Blanca, this international school is an option for pupils from Torrevieja, Orihuela Costa, and surrounding areas. It follows the British National Curriculum and caters to pupils from age 4 to 18 years. It is divided into stages of Primary, Secondary, and College. Small family-type school is formerly known as Mar Azul International School.
The school was founded in 1973 and is a British school located in Alfaz del Pi close to Benidorm. It offers British education for pupils of all nationalities aged from 3 to 18 years.
Founded in 2012 and located inland near La Nucia, AIS is a British International School in Costa Blanca with Steiner-Waldorf orientation.
This Private Scandinavian School is located in Orihuela Costa, Alicante, and offers education for Primary School from pre-school class to year 6, for Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish students in Costa Blanca. This is a small school following the Swedish curriculum, but students receive instruction in Spanish and English from year 1.
Located in Alicante, Alfaz del Pi, The Norwegian School Costa Blanca was established in 1972. The school offers education for Primary School, Secondary School, and High School following Norwegian Curriculum. This is a private school with state support, approved by the Norwegian authorities.
- El Liceo Francés – Lycée Français Alicante
The French High School in Alicante is in El Campello, Alicante for more than 50 years, having students from 1st grade of Infant Education (3 years old) to 2nd of Baccalaureate (17-18 years old). The school offers a multilingual education (trilingual from 3 years old) promoting culture and sports and is covered by the Agency for French Teaching Abroad (AEFE).
Are there Private Spanish Schools other than International Schools in Costa Blanca?
In addition to public Spanish schools and International Schools mostly following the British curriculum, there are several private Spanish schools at the Costa Blanca too. These schools offer high-quality bilingual education. Most of them provide a bus to pick children up and take them home after the school day. In private schools, you may have the option of studying less Valencian if you are not planning to stay long (maximum of two years) in Costa Blanca.
The college gives International Education from 0 to 18 years old and is accredited by the IB (International Baccalaureate) organization. This is a Bilingual school teaching English-Spanish, and German as a second foreign language.
- Colegio San Alberto Magno
The school is located in Monforte del Cid, Alicante. This is a private, English language immersion and bilingual center and offers education for stages of Infant, Primary, and Secondary Education.
Founded in 2002, mainly for European officials of different EU countries. The school has 4 language sections as Spanish, English, French, and German. The pupils obtain the European Baccalaureate diploma, which is officially recognized as an entry qualification for universities in all EU member states, after passing the exams of Baccalaureate.
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