For expats who wish to enroll their children in a state school, the Ministry of Education requires all foreigners to pass an exam in order to enter primary and secondary education. This exam must be taken in March and/or July before the start of the school year.
If you want to teach your children at home, you should register your children at the Departamento Provincial de la Región, the Provincial Department of the County in March and June so that they can undergo the exámenes libres later on. These are the same exams that foreigners and people that haven’t studied within the Chilean official schooling system have to undergo.
It is very common in Chile to have a uniform in schools, whether they’re state schools or private schools. It is not compulsory, however most institutions choose to have it, also as a contrast between school and university. It is usually a dark blue jacket, grey trousers and white shirt for boys and grey dress or skirt, white shirt and blue trousers and tights for girls. This uniform gave students the nickname of penguins. Nowadays, private schools often prefer to implement their own uniform design in order to identify the students with the school.
Chilean grading system
The grades in Chile go from 1 to 7, with 1 being the worst grade and 7 the best. The minimum required to pass is 4. After the last educational reform, a system of letters has started to be used in the early levels of education:
- MB (muy bueno), very good
- B (bueno), good
- S (suficiente), acceptable
- I (insuficiente), fail - colloquially called “rojo” or “red mark”.
In the PSU (Prueba de Selección Universitaria, university entry test), scores go from 150 to 850 points and, depending on the university or the studies, a minimum score will be needed.
School hours vary from school to school, but are usually from 8am until 2pm or from 8am to 4pm with a break for lunch. Lessons are usually divided into teaching periods of 45 minutes. Some schools offer school lunches, although many children bring a packed lunch or go home for lunch if they live nearby.