One of the most important things, when you are moving abroad with your family, is to find a good school for your children. Being near an appropriate school would be one of the major factors when buying a house. We have written this article to give you an idea about the school system in Spain and the best schools in Costa del Sol.
Is Education Compulsory and Free in Spain?
In Spain, for all the children aged between 6-16 years old education is compulsory and free in state schools. It is possible to find good quality schools also for ex-pats. Education is not compulsory from the age of 16-18; consists of either upper secondary education (Bachillerato) or vocational training. Here you will find a brief guide to where to start in finding the best school for your child and little information on the process.
Some hints before start finding the best school for your kid:
- The first application period is generally March. If you have a school in mind, this is the right time to apply.
- Be prepared to face a waiting list for most well-known schools, whether private or public. The most important thing for public schools is the score you get from your residence address.
- To be sure of the school you are considering, you can check the listings on the official webpage of education in Andalusia. You can list all the relevant education centers by entering the name of the place you plan to move to and clicking the (Buscar / Search) button. Here, you can find details about the levels, extra-curricular activities, languages of instruction, etc. of the school.
- You can check the websites of private schools in Andalusia for more details on enrollment procedures and fees.
- In Spain, if a child does not pass the end-of-year examinations, he or she must repeat the same academic year, regardless of level. This may be the case for foreign children as they may need an adjustment period in the first year.
Are Public Schools Good in Spain?
If you are planning to stay in Spain for a long period of time or want to integrate life in Spain with your family, public schools will be one of the best options. There is also support for schools and district administration for the adaptation of new students, as there are many foreigners on the Costa del Sol.
Enrollment in Spanish public schools is free for all residents and EU citizens. It is based on the address of residence. So, it would be a good idea to check the effective area of possible schools.
Generally, schools offer an education from the age of 3 (Infantil) to the end of Secondary School (ESO). For some, the Primary School (C.E.I.P or Primaria) and Secondary School (I.E.S or ESO) may be separated.
It is worth mentioning the good quality of education in these schools. You can also find public schools that have a bilingual curriculum indicated on the school name normally.
As we said, March is the correct time to apply if you have a chosen school in mind. Lists are published at the end of April, with empty spaces and student scores. So, there may be a second chance in May. For enrollment, you must first register your residential address (Padrón) at the town hall (Ayuntamiento).
- What Languages are Taught in Spanish Schools?
In addition to Spanish (Castellano) being the official and compulsory language of instruction in public schools in Spain, in some regions, it will also be compulsory to learn the common official language of the respective region.
Spanish is the only official language here, as it is in the Costa del Sol region of Andalusia.
- Where are the Best International Schools in Costa del Sol?
In Costa del Sol, you will find a wide choice of good international schools, from nursery to high school. Education in these private schools is conducted in a foreign language, which can be English, German, French, Swedish, or Norwegian, or may sometimes provide bilingual education. International schools can be a good option for the smooth transition of children.
Information about international schools is available on the home page of Embassies in Spain.
- How Much are International School Fees in Costa del Sol?
Regarding fees, they can range from €2,000 to €10,000 per year. It generally does not include materials, excursions, lunch, transportation, and extra-curricular activities. The additional cost will be around €800 to €1,000 per year.
List of the Schools in Costa del Sol
Here you may find a list of some well-reputed international schools in Costa del Sol:
The school is located western part of Costa del Sol, between Estepona and Marbella. It provides education for children aged 3 to 18 years. It offers an international curriculum that follows the Cambridge program. Children will have a language-immersion environment.
The school is located in Estepona, in the heart of The New Golden Mile in the Costa del Sol. It is founded in 2004. They follow the British National Curriculum. Education is from kindergarten (2-3 years) to the end of primary school at age 12.
This is a private school in Málaga with a British International Curriculum for students aged 3 to 18 years old. The language of instruction is English but Spanish is also taught to all ages, according to the regulations of the Ministry of Education.
The campus is located in a unique natural area in the center of the Guadalhorce Valley. It is only 15 minutes from the city of Malaga. It is very well connected with the main roads to the rest of the region.
It is founded in 2009. It offers education from nursery to the end of primary school. This is a bilingual Spanish-English school located in the center of Málaga.
The college is located in San Pedro de Alcantara, Marbella. It offers the British Curriculum (the International Primary Curriculum, GCSEs, and A-Levels) and Spanish equivalent (ESO and Bachillerato).
Founded in 1971, the school is now a modern school facility in Marbella and educates children of more than thirty nationalities. Children take English and Spanish lessons throughout school, following the English curriculum, meaning in Years 10 and 11 students take GCSE or IGCSE courses. The three examination boards used are Cambridge (CIE), AQA, and Edexcel.
Torrequebrada International College is a bilingual private school (Spanish and English) in Benalmádena. It offers education to children in Infants, Primary, Secondary, and Baccalaureate Education. In Infants and Primary, the school is authorized as a British School by the British Council. In Secondary and Baccalaureate, authorized by the Spanish Ministry of Education and by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.
It offers a British education that is complemented by Spanish studies and is located in Málaga. The school is for pupils aged 3 to 18.
The British College of Benalmádena is in the peaceful urbanization of Torremuelle, on the amazing Costa del Sol, and offers education from the pre-nursery level to the university entry-level. The college is fully recognized by both the Spanish and British Ministries of Education and is a member of NABSS (the National Association of British Schools in Spain). The school follows both the British Curriculum and the main areas of the Spanish Curriculum, which gives qualifications from both the British and Spanish examination systems.
The school was founded in 1997. It has students from over 25 different nationalities and follows the British Curriculum. Education is from pre-nursery to university entry-level.
Founded over 45 years ago, the school is located in Torremolinos for pupils of ages 3-18. It consists of Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Schools. It follows a complete English National Curriculum, including GCSE from ages 14 to 16, and A-Levels from 16-18.
Located in Nueva Andalucia, Marbella, the school was founded in 1982 and has pupils from 3 to 18 years. It now offers an English-style education combined with Spanish language and culture education to enable students to gain proficiency from both the English and Spanish examination systems.
This private school is located in Mijas Costa, Málaga, and has children from pre-school to high school. This is the oldest British School of the Costa del Sol, founded in 1968. The school offers the English National Curriculum as well as the Spanish ESO and Bachillerato to students aged 3 to 18 of various nationalities and cultures.
- German School of Málaga:Deutsche Schule Málaga
Located in Marbella, The German School of Malaga is founded in 1898. This is an independent private school approved by the Spanish education authorities and officially recognized by the Conference of Ministers of Culture and Education (KMK) of the Federal Republic of Germany and subject to its supervision. The school offers bilingual education from Nursery to the end of Secondary School.
- Norwegian School: Den Norske Skolen Malaga
It is Norwegian. The private primary school is located in the beautiful town of Benalmádena, on the Spanish Costa del Sol. It is 15 minutes from Malaga and 40 minutes from Marbella.
- Swedish School: Svenska Skolan Marbella
The Swedish School Marbella is a small school for Swedish-speaking kids. The school follows the Swedish curriculum and the directives of the Swedish National Agency for Education. The school was founded in 2003. The capacity is 200 students. The school is from preschool at 3 years of age to the elementary school F-9.
- Finnish School: Aurinkorannikon Suomalainen Koulu
This is a private Finnish school located in Fuengirola, since 1991. The school consists of Pre-School, Primary School, and Upper Secondary School. It follows the national Finnish curriculum with compulsory Spanish offered in all grades.
- French School in Málaga: Lycée Français Málaga
Founded in 1968, the Liceo Francés de Málaga offers education from Pre-school to the end of Secondary School. It is a member of the worldwide network of the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE). It offers to teach in accordance with the Spanish culture and the French National Education program with English as a third language.
- French School in Marbella: École Française Internationale Marbella (EFIM)
Efim is a primary school (nursery and elementary). It offers an innovative trilingual French-English-Spanish education built on the hybridization of active pedagogies and aligned with the French National Education program. Efim will welcome French and non-French children aged 3 to 11 from September 2021.
Are There Good Private Spanish Schools in Costa del Sol?
In addition to public Spanish schools or semi-private Spanish Schools (Concertado), there are also a number of private Spanish schools on the Costa del Sol. These schools offer a high-quality education just like international schools, following the Spanish curriculum in a bilingual environment.
Founded in 1971 and located in Fuengirola, the college is now among the best 100 schools in Spain. Being one of the best private schools in the Costa del Sol, it imparts the stages of Pre-school 0-2 years, Infant Education, Primary, Secondary, and Baccalaureate. The official language of the school is Spanish, although, in Infantil and Primary education, students have 50% of the day in Spanish and the other 50% in English.
Founded in 1985, this is a Spanish/English bilingual private school in Costa del Sol. It covers all stages of the current Spanish educational system: Early Childhood Education, Primary Education, Compulsory Secondary Education, and Baccalaureate.Located in Marbella, there are students from Fuengirola to San Pedro de Alcantara.
Based in both Estepona and San Pedro de Alcántara (Marbella), Colegio San José is a private, secular bilingual education centre. It covers all educational levels; Infant School, Primary School, Secondary School (ESO), and Sixth Form Study (Bachillerato).
For more details on the Spanish school system, please read our article Education in Spain.
FAQ about Schools in Costa Del Sol
Q: What is the age for compulsory education in Spain?
A: Education is compulsory for all children aged 6 to 16 in Spain. It is free in all state schools.
Q: What are the school hours in Costa del Sol?
A: A school day in Andalusia is usually divided into two: 09:00-14:00 in the morning and 16:00-18:00 in the evening. There is usually 2 hours lunch break. In some schools, education ends around 14:00 and is reserved for extracurricular activities after lunch. The hours also will be different in September and in June.
Q: Are kids wearing uniforms in schools in Spain?
A: In general, uniforms in public schools are not compulsory in Spain. Students in private schools or concertos (semi-private schools) often wear uniforms.
Q: How is transportation for schools in Spain?
A: The public school system is address-based, so children should go to the nearest school. But in most cases, there will be a school bus for transporting children.