The education system in Spain is decentralised. Schools in Barcelona have to adhere to guidelines set out by both the Government of Catalonia and the national Ministry of Education.
Unlike public schooling in much of the rest of the country, the teaching language in Barcelona is Catalan, which is the official language of the province.
Schools in Spain are generally either público (public), privado (private) or concertado (semi-private). Each system has its own unique benefits and shortcomings, and expats will want to evaluate their priorities when finding the school that best suits their child.
Children in Barcelona are required by law to go to school between the ages of six and 16 years old.
Public schools in Barcelona
The public school system in Barcelona is free, but parents will need to pay for books and materials, although uniforms are not required.
Expat parents who send their younger children to a Barcelona public school can provide them with a fantastic opportunity to learn the language and integrate with local residents. Older students will, however, need instruction in their first language with a slower immersion into Catalan and Spanish.
It can be difficult for expat students to gain admission into certain public schools due to overcrowding, as well as the fact that in some areas a lottery system may be the only means of entrance. Expat parents will also have to fill out the necessary paperwork in either Catalan or Spanish or find an individual who can help with the process.
Semi-private schools in Barcelona
Semi-private schools are subsidised by the government and are either free or offer low school fees. The standards of these schools differ between districts but it is generally assumed that schools in more affluent areas are of a better standard.
These schools are a good option for parents who would prefer smaller class sizes for their children, but who cannot afford a private international school in Barcelona.
Expats should be aware that these schools generally follow the Spanish curriculum and the primary teaching language will usually be Catalan.
International schools in Barcelona
International schools in Barcelona are private schools that uphold the teaching language and curriculum of a foreign country, and generally, provide a very high standard of education.
It is common for space in these institutions to be limited, as demand at these schools is usually high and some schools admit students based on nationality quotas.
International schools offer pupils the benefit of continuing with language instruction that should be familiar. All international schools have annual tuition fees, and it is best to consult schools individually to find out more about costs.
Are you an expat living in Barcelona?
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