Choosing a school in Marbella

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One of the concerns that my clients have when we discuss their move is choosing a school in Marbella and their children’s education. I see it as part of my job as a property finder in Marbella is to discuss every aspect of my clients’ lifestyle in order to find the most suitable property for them.  School choice is a consideration of major importance that I must factor into my property search when required.

I know from personal past experience that choosing a school for a child in your home country can be challenging enough, but it can be even more stressful when you’re moving to another country with a language barrier to hurdle over. So, in this brief blog I’ll outline the choices, thanks to help from Expatica, a very handy website for expats moving to Spain, or already living here.

International schools

This is perhaps the easiest choice from a linguistic perspective. Marbella has some excellent international schools that are primarily based on the UK curriculum and teach in English. Take a look at the National Association of British Schools in Spain for a full list. The advantage of choosing an international school is that your child doesn’t have to adjust to a new language immediately. It is often a better choice for older children who may find it harder to adapt to a Spanish-speaking school than a child just starting in the primary classes. Some also offer a combined Spanish and British curriculum, which is the best of both worlds. If there is a disadvantage to the international schools, it is the fees. Although these are lower than an equivalent private school in the UK, if you have several children to enrol, the cost can mount up.

European schools

Many European nationalities choose international schools because it helps their children develop their English skills. However, there are schools teaching curriculums in German, French and the Scandinavian languages. A list of these is available at the European Council for International Schools.

Spanish state schools

Just as in the UK, where you live is vitally important when it comes to registering at a Spanish state school as you must be in the catchment area to be eligible for the one of your choice. Some parents will probably find that it is easier for younger children to integrate at a Spanish school because they aren’t already used to schooling in their native language. The benefits of choosing a Spanish school in this case is that your child will pick up fluency in Spanish more rapidly and make Spanish friends. There are also no fees. However, for older children at secondary school level, it is wise to consider whether they will want to go on to higher education in the UK as they will then need to obtain GCSEs and IB or A levels at an international school. So, if they start at a Spanish school you will then have to switch them back to the British curriculum and this often presents a number of difficulties for the child. One of the main issues is a loss of familiarity with the grammar and spelling of their native English, plus Spanish schools have a different approach to teaching maths and there is less emphasis on IT skills as well.

Spanish private schools

This is another option and some of them are supported by the state (colegio concertados) and have reduced fees, whilst the fully independent schools have higher fees. Classes are in Spanish and the subject choice is wider than in the state schools. Expatica also has a useful review of the state versus private education in Spain.

Home schooling

Whereas home schooling in the UK is increasingly popular it is fairly rare in Spain, and is officially illegal at this stage.  “The essence of the constitutional court decision is that homeschooling is not a right under Spanish law and therefore all children must attend formal school. The court notes that laws can be made that allow for more flexibility and choices for families, but until then homeschooling is illegal in Spain.” There is a Spanish support organisation which may help with your research Asociacion Libre Educacion but the website is only in Spanish.


If you’d like to discuss your property needs and choosing a school in Marbella then please Contact Me for a ‘no obligation’ chat about what you’re looking for and the areas you’re interested in. I look forward to hearing from you.

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