State School or Private School

This topic contains 20 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 12 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #52279


    Hi All
    Our biggest concern of moving out to Spain is our childrens schooling (ages 9 & 11) We are scared that the gneral culture change will be enough without having the added difficulty of being put into a school and classes and be expected to mix and learn and not speak the language!!
    Any shared experiences of getting children settled inot schools would be greatly appreciated.
    Bopsy 🙄

  • #66023


    Bopsy, Just in case you don’t get many answers here, there are many debates and postings on another forum re. this subject.

    just put in a search

  • #66025


    Hi Bopsy

    although I dont have children myself I do know a lot of poeple who have come over with the same expectations and concerns as you. At these ages kids are like sponges and you will find that in a few months they are speaking fluent Spanish. The Spanish schools (certainly in this area) go out of their way to integrate the children quickly into the classrooms. What you will find is that your kids integrate a lot quicker than you will

    In this area there is the added language of Valenciano – which is in fact an actual language (albeit almost exactly the same as Catalan they are very different from Spanish) and most couples I know here with kids have had no problems with their kids speaking both languages.

    I wouldnt worry too much about it because I think your kids will get on great and will love the Spanihs school life which is apparently a lot more laid back than in the UK (and of course they get more holidays than there UK couterparts)

    Good luck


  • #66027


    Thats OK Vince if you want your children to be educated in a “laid back” school and are longer holidays a good thing?

    I would go for a private Brit school which is also geared towards spanish system for integration. Some of the good Brit ones on the CDS are attended by children of many nationalities including some who have spanish nationality.

  • #66029


    Hi Katy

    as I said I dont have children (Well I do but he is 20 and lives in the UK) so cant speak for the education here. All I kknow is thepoeple who I know who do have kids dont have problems with the kids integrating with the schools and no I guess ten weeks is not great for parents but for kids it is. As Bopsy’s concern seemed to be about the kids settling in (as opposed the the level of education) my 3rd hand experience is that most kids dont have a problem – or is this not the case?


  • #66030



    From personal experience with two “families” the best advice I can give is DO NOT think about sending the children to Private ex-pat school.

    I arrived on this coast (CDS) 11 years ago with two children of 5 and 8. I had arrived from Birmingham (although I am an Essex Lad) where I took the local school to the Race relations board for discriminating against my children because they were white and won! Long story but it revolved around school meals where the school insisted in serving Halal meat to avoid the need to have two kitchens and also around religious and language matters and what should have been taught.

    Basically, I do believe in that “When in Rome…………… ” so made the decision that when moving to Spain integration was No 1 priority and that means children in a spanish school with their peers – those that they will mix with out of school hours. Within 6 months of being at the school, the children were totally fluent in Spanish and had a good mix of friends, Spanish, English and other nationals.

    I then split from what was my wife and a couple of years later met my new partner who had four children. There was a battle to get the children to Spain as the natural father had a “problem” with his ex-wife’s new life but as part of the Court case, we agreed to send the children to an international school (English) for a year before moving them into a state school. Cost £1,000 per term per child and for what? Spanish Lessons were typically watching a DVD in Spanish, Bullying was rife and in fact when the youngest (aged 6) had his lunch stolen by another (English) child and thrown in the bin in front of a staff member we pulled the children from the school after two terms and sent them to a state school.

    The two youngest (were 6 and 8 and are now 11 and 13) last year were TOP of their classes in Spanish, English and Maths, beating the Spanish children in their natural tongue. As the school explained to us, the children have learnt text book Spanish from the start rather than having 5 years of Andalusian spoken at home with all it’s corruptions, so actually have a head start!

    The Pueblo school they attend is one of the newest on the coast and is a happy family. All the staff are fully qualified whereas so many of the “International” schools employ the cheapest labour possible and that often means unqualified teachers. Private schools are Private Businesses and are in the same league as most Real Estate Agents – out for as much money as they can get for as little return as possible. The headmaster/mistress is usually the owner and is accountable to no-one (local authorities, governers etc). What profit he/she makes goes into his pocket!

    If the child entering school here is over 13 then maybe you need to rethink slightly but 13 and under, direct to a state school.

    Children leaving Spanish schools at 16 do so with a level of education equivilant to a 15 year old in a UK school but with three languages. I know what I would rather the kids have if their future is in Spain. The Spanish system does allow for further education which the children will bring themselves up to the same standards of the UK at 6th form level but at 19-20 rather than 18-19.

    The long holidays at Spanish schools mentioned, apply equally at “International” schools on the coast.

    Again the University system in Spain equals that in the UK but with an extra year. A three year degree course in the UK becomes a four year course here and a four year masters course becomes five years. But with the extra holidays, the kids have a chance to live and to earn some money leaving them in a situation that they do not have huge student debts hanging over their heads as in the UK.

    You owe it to your children to help them enjoy the lifestyle in Spain and that will include attending a Spanish school. The alternative is to be treated poorly by the Spaniards local to home who do treat private school pupils as “snobs” and the friends that the children do make at the International Schhols means that your children will not get to mix with them too often out of school as they will be spread over a 30 km radius or “Mums Taxi” will be in daily use!!

    There is no real option – straight into a Spanish State School.

  • #66031


    recent article here………………. … 6295.shtml

  • #66032


    Thanks for your input everyone.

    I do want a good education for them and they are quite bright anyway, my main concern is for them to be happy and not too shocked by it all. I have heard that some of these international schools are cash cows and i have to say that having spent a month out in Spain when I was 18 without my brother (so no one english to talk to) I picked up loads, probably the most I ever have, because I had to.
    I do beleive in “when in Rome” and think maybe a state school with private tuition to help get them through exams etc might be the best course.
    Thanks again and thanks for the site Dorothy

  • #66033


    The typicallyspanish report is interesting but it must be remembered that the average applied to the whole of the country – inland areas will on the whole have less acceptable results than the costal areas.

    The one interesting quote in the article is “More students repeat courses here than elsewhere”. That is true because here in Spain the child has to PASS the year as opposed to merely passing into the next year just because of their age.

    To me, that is actually a good thing. If the child has not acheived acceptable results in the year it is pointless going on to the next year, starting it out of their depth and then pulling back the rest of the class. No in Spain they repeat. IF the child has failed the year, they have the chance to retake tests in the September in those subjects they failed on a “retake” basis which enables them to continue in their original year with their friends. Again, I have experienced that with one of the step children, a girl of 15 who got too interested in boys during the school year! It takes a lot of strength and perseverance to “ground” that child for the 3 month school holidays so that they can do the whole year again at home with the help of private tuition but it works. And for some reason the next year it does not seem to happen again?

    It is a shame that the “repeat” system does not exist in the UK – maybe there would be less truancy and delinquency in the schools there. Incidentally, it does not exist in the private schools in Spain – they would rather let the child pass on to the next year ensuring a continuation in the fee payments which also increase with the age of the child as well as with inflation (which in the schools tends to run at twice the Bank of Spain’s declared values!!)

    The state school plus some private tuition is a good idea – just make sure that YOU keep your eyes on what the children are doing in the tuition (which should also include homework) – some home tutors are also cash cows!

    One last thing. Spanish schools finish at 2 or 3 on the coast. The children should have two to three hours of homework a day so that in effect that have an hours lunch at home plus enough work to keep them going to 6pm. DO NOT accept it when the child tells you they haven’t got. If they do tell you that go and see the teacher. Most schools have one afternoon a week where parents can see the staff from (say) 5pm – 7pm with the child and without appointment. Again, access that is a lot better than the UK.

  • #66041


    Thanks so much Paul and Lyn

    On the whole do you think your kids/step kids are now glad they were put into a state school?

    I agree that they are then more likely to have local friends which makes such a difference.

    Will see how we get on when we go over to have a look. 🙄
    Bye for now

  • #66047


    Both my children have been happily and successfully educated at Spanish schools and I generally agree with the advice offered by Paul and Lynn.

    The point about homework is very important – and this needs careful attention by British parents. Two hours minimum everyday seems to be the norm – but if the work isn’t completed then do not expect the school to immediately react. If homework is not completed, then teachers will often assume that the child is not able, or insufficiently motivated, to complete the course and expect the student to repeat the year. Schools assume that it is the responsibility of families to foster the motivation to succeed.

    I would offer a couple of other points:

    1. Take a close look at your local grant maintained church schools. It is usually easy to identify these schools as the children wear uniforms and discipline tends to be tighter than state schools. Some are fairly Catholic and nuns participate in classes, while others are only nominally religious. Headmasters at church schools seem to have more power than in state schools and teachers seem to have less than life-long job security. The quality of a church school depends on the head. Church schools – while usually free – often charge for the first year in nursery and this, to put crudely, is a filter to discourage poorer, or less academically motivated, families from entering.

    2. Be aware that in Catalonia education is forbidden in Spanish – in state and grant-aided schools. Your children will be educated in Catalan with Spanish treated as a foreign language. In Valencia, you will be able to choose from schools that either give priority to Spanish, or priority to Valencian. Many schools also have separate Spanish and Valencian streams. Think carefully before choosing a minority language as the main educational language for your children – would you advise Spanish parents living in the UK to educate their children in Welsh?

    3. Visit several state, or grant-aided, schools before making a choice. In Valencia, the school year begins in September but children are interviewed and given places during May. Applying during the formal admittance period can greatly help you obtain a place at the school of your choice.

  • #66052


    The people who have their kids in state schools are always going to say that they are the best vice versa the ones who have them in private schools. I cannot say for all the private schools but a few of them have very good pass results, notably Aloha college, English International College. Many have gone on to further education (in England).

    Most of the kids I know here who have gone to state schools haven’t done very well and many have dropped out before the leaving date. Ask yourself how you are going to help them with their homework if you don’t speak the language,what do you do if you need to discuss anything with the teacher. One friend was told that her son needed extra spanish lessons (after being in the school for 3 years!!) so imagine what he had been absorbing.

    As for church schools here, I had the unfortunate experience of spending 4 months in a school run by nuns 👿 sadistic was too good a word for them. I was 7 and still remember having to hold a large bible in the air until my arm was numb.

    Have you thought what they will do when they leave school? work in a cafe/bar for a few euros an hour and stuck with 6 months contracts (if they get a contract).

    BTW…shouldn’t this be on the general forum??

  • #66055


    Hi Katy and Rawlins

    Thanks for the advice although as you can see quite different, It’s still good to get different prospectives though.
    As for what work they will do when they are older, who knows and as I said at the start my main aim is for them to be happy, if that means working in a bar, so be it, but I’d prefer for them to own it too!!!!!
    Thanks for the advice 😆

  • #66057


    When we first came to Spain our son who was 8 at the time went to a Spanish state school which had a large % of English and other northern European children, of 24 kids in his class only 6 were Spanish. Obviously this was not great for him learning Spanish but did ease him into the sytstem a little more easily.

    My son had always loved maths and found that the levels here were more advanced than what he had been doing in the UK. Generally we found that ecucation levels were good and we feel we made the right decision not to use private schools.

    Whilst summer school holidays are very long they do not have all the half term breaks that the kids enjoy in the UK, I think in balance they are about equal.

    To help your children try to limit their use of english TV, rent them videos, dvd’s, books etc in Spanish, great start with dvd’s is to watch in Spanish with English subtitles or vice versa. If like my son they like their computers and games consols get Spanish games.

    My son repeated his second year, I must say this was a great motivation for him, he didnt want to do that again.

    We moved him to an almost totally Spanish school where English is only spoken in English lessons (he is top in this class :lol:). He loves it and it is great to see him playing with Spanish kids speaking almost like a native.

    If you have any doubts about how long you will stay in spain, or if you intend at some stage to return to the UK consider going private to maintain their English education. I guess the real issue is do what you feel is right for your children not what is right for you.


  • #66070

    Fuengi (Andrew)

    @paulandlyn wrote:

    It is a shame that the “repeat” system does not exist in the UK – maybe there would be less truancy and delinquency in the schools there.

    Do you think anyone would ever graduate? 🙂

  • #66078


    Hi, Just to put a slightly different slant on things..

    My husband works at a private school set up by Spanish parents who wanted a British education for their kids, its a NABBS school and 70% of classes are in English and follow UK curiculum and the rest is in Spanish, following their curriculum as per the law.

    The majority of kids there are Spanish, I can think of 6 native speakers of English out of the 250+ there (not all English).

    My 5 year old also goes there, as we get a free place, she came here with no Spanish and has quite frequently been mistaken for a native speaker a year later. We live in a tiny village and she chats very happily with the rest of the village and is very confident in Spanish (apart from possibly in her Spanish lesson where she doesn’t speak much!).

    We aren’t planning on going back to the UK, but if you ever wanted (or needed to) this type of education would mean your child would find it easier to slip back into the English education system. I think having English speaking teachers made it a lot easier for her to settle into the school, it is a huge jump and harder at 11 then 5 and 2, as thet have more friends to leave behind. Our daughter still found the first term very hard, but as she had never been to school before it is difficult to say whether that would have been the case anyway.

    Another thing to think about is that your child will need to continue learning English, are you going to teach him/her? Pay for extra lessons? Its as important as learning Spanish…

    Good luck with your move,

  • #66096


    Thanks Heather, I have pm’d you!

  • #66261


    @Bopsy wrote:

    On the whole do you think your kids/step kids are now glad they were put into a state school?

    Sorry it’s been a week but have been away – as my life revolves around working on the internet and with the new airline rules concerning laptops, mine stayed at home – a computer free week!

    I cannot say the kids have expressed a specific opinion – what I know is that they have integrated well and could not be considered educationally substandard by UK or Spanish standards.

    On this part of the CDS, it is unusual but most of the Spanish are actually local, rather than those that are “expats” of the bigger cities as happens in so many other areas.

    The kids Spanish friends / social contacts vary from the local barmans son through to the daughter of a top surgeon. Their English friends vary in an equal way. Likewise they have friends in both state and private system (English and Spanish).

    When one of the kids is “grounded”, the Spanish friends actually seem to have a lot more understanding of the situation and have often “been there” themselves whereas the English kids can often take the attitude of “my parents would not dare take my mobile from me” or similar – this is probably where the whole debate actually centres.

    Spanish schools rely upon parent co-operation / discipline / help. If a child does not have the right attitude in the home this will spill into their school life and reflect in their results. Rawlins hit it on the head

    @Rawlins wrote:

    If homework is not completed, then teachers will often assume that the child is not able, or insufficiently motivated, to complete the course and expect the student to repeat the year. Schools assume that it is the responsibility of families to foster the motivation to succeed.

    If you are prepared to help and motivate the children, they will succeed. If you want to lie in the sun when they get back from school and leave them to their own devices they will fail. Likewise if you do not instill values, respect and discipline into the kids they will fail in School and in Life. But that will apply to any school in any country and why so many English kids do fail in State school here – but they would have failed in a UK state school as well. Just here they have an excuse of “but my Spanish is not good enough” and where half the parents seem to think English is the mother tongue of Costa areas (or should be) and the parents do not bother to learn and speak Sanish, how will the parents ever know or be able to disagree with the kids!

  • #66429


    Deleted by original poster

  • #66430

    Fuengi (Andrew)

    @samba66 wrote:

    So I applied to the UK, got in as an ATCO air traffic controller), and threw planes about from the London Air traffic Centre (West Drayton) and Manchester for 15 years!

    wow, strong arms 😆

  • #66438


    How lovely, thanks Michelle, I know we are all individual but that’s very encouraging and we hope to get our oldest daughter out there before she is 13.
    Fingers crossed and thanks for taking the time to tell me about how things have been for you.
    Bopsy 😆

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