This is a list of questions you should ask yourself in order to make the best choice for your child(ren) choosing between public of pirvate education:
- How long are you planning to stay in Spain? If you’re uncertain, it’s best to assume a long stay. Due to language and other integration problems, enrolling children in Spanish state schools is advisable for a minimum of one or two years, particularly for teenage children who aren’t fluent in Spanish.
- What is the choice of schools in the area you wish to live? For example, it’s usually necessary to send your child to a state school near your home. If you choose a private day school, you must take into account the distance and travelling time from your home to the school.
- Do you know where you’re going when you leave Spain? This may be an important consideration with regard to your child’s language of tuition and system of education in Spain. How old is your child and what age will he be when you plan to leave Spain? What plans do you have for his subsequent education and in which country?
- What educational level is your child at now and how will he fit into a private school or the Spanish state school system? The younger he is, the easier it will be to place him in a suitable school.
- How does your child view the thought of studying in Spanish? What language is best from a long-term point of view? Is schooling available in Spain in his mother tongue?
- Will your child require your help with his studies, and more importantly, will you be able to help him, particularly with his Spanish?
- Is special or extra tutoring available in Spanish or other subjects, if necessary?
- What are the school hours? What are the school holiday periods? How will these holidays and hours affect your and your family’s work and leisure activities?
- Is religion an important aspect in your choice of school? Religion is no longer a mandatory subject in Spanish schools.
- Do you want your child to go to a co-educational or a single-sex school? Spanish state schools are usually co-educational.
- Should you send your child to a boarding school? If so, in which country?
- What are the secondary and further education prospects in Spain or another country? Are Spanish examinations or the examinations set by prospective schools in Spain recognised in your home country or the country where you plan to live after leaving Spain? If applicable, check whether the Spanish baccalaureate ( bachillerato) examination is recognised as a university entrance qualification in your home country.
- Does a prospective school have a good academic record? Most schools provide exam pass rate statistics.
- How large are the classes in a particular school? What is the pupil-teacher ratio? The legal maximum size of classes in state schools is 25 pupils in primary education and 30 in secondary. There’s no limit in private schools, although they generally have smaller classes than state schools.
Obtain the opinions and advice of others who have been faced with the same decisions and problems as yourself, and collect as much information from as many different sources as possible before making a decision. Speak to students, teachers and the parents of children attending the schools on your shortlist. Finally, you should discuss the alternatives with your child before making a decision.
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Spain.
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