Education and schooling
Moving with your family is a time for excitement, but it can also be a time of great upheaval. When it comes to your children's education we understand that the right fit for a school is key. Below is some of the key information about the various types of schools on the island, the pro's and con's of each and how to apply.
Mallorca´s schools guide
Understanding the Spanish school system can be difficult, especially if language is a barrier. However, in addition to local schools, Mallorca boasts some excellent English speaking International schools offering English, US and International curriculum to provide your children with as much educational consistency as possible. Below is some key information about schools on the Island.
Education in Spain is mandatory from the ages of 6 to 16 years old and state education is free to the age of 18 in state schools. For international children attending state institutions, the local education authority commits to offering programs to help these students integrate. All schools on the island, including the international schools, are required to teach Spanish in the curriculum. Catalan is required in the Spanish private and state schools. The percentage of each language varies on the type of school.
Choosing a school
Like most countries, access to state schools is based upon your catchment area (your children will have access to the schools closest to where you live). Therefore, if you are looking to send your children to a state school it's important to understand the options when buying a home. In some cases, state schools with a high proportion of international students may lag behind others (as children also need to learn the language), so this is worth investigating. Depending on the politicians in power at any given time, more or less emphasis is placed on incorporating English into the curriculums in the public system. The percentage of subjects taught in Catalan and Spanish therefore also shifts, but both these languages are mandatory in the state system.
When it comes to International Schools, access depends on the availability and the ability to pay the private school fees required. As a result, the catchment area becomes less of an issue. International language takes on a greater percentage of subjects, but still, some must be Spanish, others may be in Catalan.
There is a third educational system available which are semi-private and semi-public. These are called "Concertados." These often incorporate a trilingual system, are dependent on catchment, are less expensive than private schools and often have a Catholic component.
The pros and cons of state school
Local state schools are free if you are a resident
To speak to teachers and help with homework, you will need to speak Spanish or Catalan
They help your children learn the language and better integrate with the local community & culture
Children will have additional pressure on education and learning the language
If English or another language is spoken and taught at home, learning the local languages will be faster
Children will learn the Spanish syllabus (a challenge if children are already advanced in their education)
The pros and cons of international schools
School educational performance can be higher
The fees for such a school can be high
Smaller class sizes (due to fees) and often offer additional extracurricular activities
Children may have less of an opportunity to learn and integrate with the local culture
English will be the primary language and the UK, US and International syllabus can be taught
Due to Brexit, continuing in the British system with EU residency, the expense of higher education in the UK increases
The pros and cons of concertados
Less expensive than private schools
Class sizes can be large
More emphasis on other languages, such as English, German and French than the state schools
More expensive option than state schools
High educational standards with good infrastructure, facilities and extra-curricular activities
Mostly located in large towns only
The Spanish school checklist
When selecting a school (both state and International), in addition to the usual criteria it would be a good idea to investigate the following;
Are the lessons taught in Spanish or Catalan?
What are the other languages supported by the school?
What subjects are taught in which language?
What languages are obligatory and which are optional?
What subjects does the do curriculum include?
What extracurricular activities are on offer?
What examinations are set, are they internationally recognized?
What Nationality are the other students?
If a private school, what is included/not included in the fees?
For private schools, what are the withdrawal terms?
How can we help?
Q. How do I apply for a state school
A. It can vary, but to begin with, you will need to be a resident and register with your local ayuntamiento. Once this is done, you can visit the education department to fill out a school registration and medical form for your child. You will also need to show:
Your child’s birth certificate or passport
Your own passport
An up-to-date immunisation/medical certificate
Proof of residence in Spain
Q. Are there any other requirements for older children?
A. If your child will be starting the third year of secondary school, you are required to get your child’s school records verified by the MECD in a process called "convalidación" or "homologación" (the official record of your child’s education), ideally before coming to Spain. Ask at the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country for details on how to do this.
Q. How do I apply for Private/International Schools?
A. Places for the best International schools are limited, so it is best to apply in advance. Each school will have its own process (highlighted on their website). However, most will require school reports and exam results for the applicant. References often help and interviews are held. It is recommended to check that the school belongs to an accredited organisation and that it's recognised by the Spanish Education authority. You should also ask about the withdrawal terms and fees.
Q. How much is an International School?
A. Fees can generally range from 2,000 Euro a year to over 10,000 depending on the school and services offered. It's also worth checking what the fee includes, as often there are extra charges for registration, transport & food (if needed), uniforms, excursions, official exams and books/stationery/laptops etc.