If you are relocating to Malaga with young or school age children, one of the important questions on your mind will be about the choice of school for your children. You will be asking yourself:
How do I secure my children get the right education and get integrated easily?
Should it be international or Spanish school, private or public?
How do I go about the admission process?
Well, the last question is easy – that is why we are here to help you, AFTER you have answered the first two. There are no right or wrong answers, those depend on many different factors and your personal situation, such as the age of your children, your plans and intentions of relocating to Spain and of course your personal financial situation.
Generally, the private schools are not cheap, but the fees and services vary, so you need to do some research. Whether it should be international or Spanish curriculum, will very much depends on the age of your children and your family’s long-term plans. If you choose international route, be prepared to allocate substantial budget for school fees, as all international schools in the area of Malaga and Costa del Sol, are private.
If your children are of pre-school or early primary school age, and you have chosen Spain to be your new “family home” for a long time to come, our general advice is to go for the Spanish curriculum, as this will help your children (and yourselves) to learn the language faster and integrate in the Spanish culture and the way of life.
There are three types of schools in Spain and in Andalusia:
- State schools which are funded by the state and are free, however parents may be asked to buy books and school material. Also, such services as school canteen (comedor), as well as pre-school hours (aula matinal) and after school activities may be subject to small fees.
- Private schools which are funded by the private sources (families) and have an extensive fees structure for education and other offered services
- Semi-private schools which are funded partially by the State and partially by the private sources. The fees structure and possible funding may depend on each family’s personal situation
The compulsory education in Spain is between the ages of 6 and 16 and includes two stages: Primary (6 to 12 years old) and Secondary (12 to 16 years old), however the country’s overall education program has more stages and starts from Pre-school at the age of 3 and goes on to the University degrees.
The enrolment procedure in Andalusia for all school stages starts on March 1st for the following academic year starting in September. During March the applications should be submitted and during April the education centres have time to review those. The final lists of admission are issued by the middle of May. All state schools have pupil quotas so there is a point system in place using various criteria, such as proximity to the address of residence, family situation, etc. Before you can enrol your child to school, as a minimum requirement, you need to be registered on municipal padron in the local Town Hall, as your address will be the most defining factor in the choice of school. So, if you are new to the area, you may want to inform yourself about the availability of schools while doing the house hunting.
If you have missed the official admission deadlines, usually schools offer “last minute” enrolment procedure just before the academic year starts, early September, however the availability of spaces is not guaranteed, in which case you will be diverted to the next closest school which has available spaces.
The choice of school, the enrolment and the integration into the school program is one of the most crucial parts for any family relocating to Spain. It can create a lot of anxiety for both children and parents, which we at Malaga Expat understand better than anyone. We will be happy to assist you with the process as part of the overall relocation package and address your questions and concerns before, during and after the process.