Education On The Costa Del Sol.
The Costa Del Sol (Sun Coast) has a lot to offer – wonderful climate, miles of sandy beaches, great restaurants and leisure facilities, and offers a relaxed way of life, but what is the education like on the Costa del Sol?
For expats with young families, looking to relocate here, education plays an important factor, and is one of the biggest decisions they can make. Education is considered to be of a better standard than many other European countries, with fewer discipline problems. The education system in Spain consists of four levels:
1. Nursery Education
Nursery education is voluntary, and is divided in two stages, of three years each. First stage is for ages 0-6 years, and the second stage is from 3-6 years.
2. Primary Education
Primary education is compulsory, and is from 6-12 years of age. This is free of charge in public and grant funded schools.
3. Compulsory Secondary Education
Compulsory secondary education is from 12-16 years of age, and is taught in secondary education institutes. Successful pupils are able to obtain a secondary education school certificate, giving them the option to continue with middle level vocational training, or bachillerato studies.
4. Vocational Training
The bachillerato (high school certificate) is from 16-18 years of age, and successful students obtain the qualification ‘bachiller’ (baccalaureate), this provides the foundation for higher level vocational training, or students have the option of going to university, if they pass the necessary access tests.
There are a broad range of mid and higher vocational training courses available, all offering variable duration´s and are on a modular basis. These courses are designed to prepare students to work in a variety of jobs. Students have the option,
via exams to gain entry to university education, or higher vocational courses.
Universities can be public or private, and provide their own educational courses. There are three levels of
The qualifications of private universities need to be officially recognised by the Ministry of Education, in order to have any official value. Special training courses are also available such as art, music, design, drama and language teaching.
Schooling On The Costa Del Sol: Your Education Options
This can seem like the best choice, particularly for older children. The reasons for this are that all international schools are private, and they follow a UK curriculum, followed by UK exam courses, such as GCSE’s and A-Levels.
Spanish international schools also offer the International Baccalaureate program, as well as secondary school qualifications, called the Bachillerato. The main benefits of this is that students attending international schools, can receive both local and international title, when they graduate, giving them the opportunity to
attend university in other parts of the world.
Another positive is that international schools offer a bi-lingual study program, and accept both Spanish and foreign students. This gives the opportunity for students to integrate in to the culture and learn the language, thus giving the chance for students to become fully and fluently bilingual.
Children may find it harder to integrate more, as children tend to have the same backgrounds, and speak the same language, and this can lead to a ‘cultural vacuum’ when it comes to trying to immerse in the Spanish language and culture.
In addition to its curriculum, international schools offer a better learning environment, as they tend to have smaller classes, and a more modern, relaxed approach to teaching. International schools attract people from all over the world, and the curriculum and extracurricular activities gives the opportunity for students to explore other languages, art, sports and other academic subjects.
International schools can be costly, and fees for private nursery or primary schools can be between 3,000-4000€ per year, whilst secondary and boarding schools are between 8,000-10,000€ per year. This does not include extracurricular activities, books, materials and other additions that may occur.
There are about 20 private international schools on the Costa del Sol. These include British, Finnish, French, German, Norwegian, and Swedish schools. Many provide schooling for children from 3-18 years. Here is a list of International Schools on the Costa del Sol.
Spanish State Schools
This can be a good option for some families, particularly for younger children, as
they will learn the Spanish language with ease, as they will be socializing and talking with Spanish people, and will find it easier to integrate. This process is naturally speed-ed up in state schools. There are various benefits in choosing to send children to state schools. These include:
- Free of charge
- More variety of schools to choose from
- Some schools offer a English-Spanish bilingual curriculum
This option is not so good for older children, as they tend to struggle, particularly for children approaching secondary school age. Having a Spanish tutor will give extra help and assistance, but of course this will be at an additional cost.
Also, it is worth noting, that the quality of education may not be as high as with a British or other International School. The Spanish system has been criticized or being rigid and old fashioned, preventing children from being taught by more modern and intuitive means.
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