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In the past, Spain might have been considered as an ideal destination for retired expats but it now attracts people with families seeking a change for both their children and themselves. Taking children away from an environment they are comfortable in, friends and school, is a daunting decision for every parent to make. You have to consider a number of factors before opting for a particular school. It doesn't matter if you are planning a long stay in Spain or a short one, you have to consider the age of your children as well as the type of education you want them to have before choosing a school. Many expats prefer private and international schools for their children. However, you can make a decision according to your preference and requirements.

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Private schools (Bilingual)

There are a number of Spanish private schools that offer bilingual programs where students are taught in multiple languages. The government of Spain has introduced bilingual programs into some public schools as well. Students are taught in both English and Spanish for an equal number of hours per week. The curriculum offered by bilingual schools includes subjects from both English and Spanish National Curriculums. The British Council offers bilingual programs in numerous state schools located in Spain, specifically in rural areas and cities. Tourist areas are not included.

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Fees

Private (bilingual) school fees vary depending on the reputation, quality and location of the school. However, it is comparatively low as compared to private education cost in North America and North Europe. Private schools located in Barcelona and Madrid are unsurprisingly most expensive. Subsidized Spanish Schools have fees around EUR 700 per year. Books, registration, laundry, materials, insurance, excursions, meals, extra-curricular activities, and transport expenses are not included in school fees. Most private schools in Spain subscribe to different insurance schemes covering mishaps and accidents, even during activities that are school-sponsored. Some private schools also offer scholarships. Grants are also offered by bilingual private schools to help parents pay expenses, considering their financial situation.

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International Schools

There are a great number of international schools present in Spain. These schools follow British Curriculum, which is very convenient for international students. Fees are usually low as compared to the school fees in the United Kingdom. If you are planning to move back to UK, it is recommended to opt for a school that offers AS/A Levels, IGCSE or IB and sticks to the National Curriculum. Many international schools located in different areas of Spain follow British approach and style of education. They might belong to NABSS (National Association of British Schools), or to ECIS (European Council of International Schools). Some international schools (English speaking) also follow American Curriculum. There are also German, Swedish, and French schools in addition to British and American schools in Spain. International schools have comparatively smaller classes and a less rigid curriculum as compared to Spanish state schools.

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Spanish Schools

Spanish schools might be state or private. Some private Spanish schools are in fact subsidized and are known as Concertados. School fees are kept reasonably low. In some cases, there is no tuition fee. In many instances primary and secondary schools are combined into a single school by the Concertados. Families living in Spain can apply for these schools in spring before the academic year starts in September. The language of instruction at public schools is Spanish.

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Application

It is better for you to apply for private schools in advance as most international and private schools include waiting lists for places. Previous school reports, records and exam results are usually requested before admission. Always go through the withdrawal conditions in the contract before enrolling your children in private schools in Spain. Furthermore, always check if the school is recognized by Spanish education authorities or not. It must be related to an accredited organization.

Information and advice regarding British (English language) Schools in Spain can easily be obtained from British Council. You can visit the British council's official website for more information. Moreover, it is not a bad idea to learn about Spanish culture in order to offer your children a better chance of adjusting to their new life!

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