Choosing a school in Barcelona for your children depends on their previous educational experience and how long you plan to stay in Spain.
Families who are likely to move frequently from one country to another during the children’s school years tend to choose an international school so that the children will have some degree of educational continuity regardless of the family’s location.
But, if you plan to live in Spain for number of years, you may want to enroll your children in a regular Catalan school. But it is another story…
THE SPANISH SCHOOL SYSTEM
There are three types of schools in the Spanish school system: state, private and state-funded (concertada). Tuition is free in state schools, which are completely funded by the government. Private schools are privately financed. Concertada schools are privately run schools that receive some government funding. Tuition is also free in concertada schools, though there may be voluntary fees and expenses for extracurricular activities.
Primary education is compulsory in Spain from the age of six. After finishing primary school at age 12, children then move on to a secondary school to study Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) from 12 to 16. This is followed by the Formacio Post-Obligatoria where students can choose to leave school and start working, or do two years of Batxillerat and then enter university, or gain more practical vocational training through the Formacio Professional or FP programme.
Pre-primary education is for children between 0 and 6 years old. It is organized in two cycles of three courses:
FIRST CYCLE (0-3 years old): the schools that only provide pre-primary or nursery education are called llars d’infants or escoles bressol. This first level of education is not free of charge. There are stste schools (whose cost is partially funded by the government) and private schools.
SECOND CYCLE (3-6 years old): the schools that provide this second cycle are called parvularis, although there are also infant and primary education schools (CEIP) that cover children’s education from 3 to 12 years old. In this second level education is universal and free of charge in state and concertada schools (but not in private schools).
INTERNATIONAL AND BILINGUALS SCHOOLS
There are two types of international schools: schools that follow their country’s curriculum with or without Spanish and/or Catalan as second languages, and schools that teach in foreign languages while following a Spanish curriculum. Although these latter schools are classified as international, most of its students are Spanish, so your children will be exposed to Spanish and Catalan through their classmates.
English-language international schools either follow a particular educational curriculum throughout, such as the British or American system, or switch after primary level to the local curriculum. A Spanish secondary system means that students are taught the Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) curriculum from ages 12 to 16 and then Batchollerat from ages 16 to 18 if they wish to enter university.
In Barcelona there are French, American, British schools. There is also a German, a Italian, a Japanese and a Swiss school. These country-specific international schools are funded by their respective countries and follow these countries’ curriculums. Although they are open to students of all nationalities, priority is given to nationals of the country funding the school. Those of a different nationality who have done part of their schooling in that country are also given priority.
Schools based outside the city offer school bus services.
Waiting lists for international schools are long and there is limited capacity, so we recommended that you apply as soon as possible.
WHAT IS THE BEST EDUCATIONAL CHOICE FOR YOUR CHILD IN BARCELONA?
Benjamin Franklin International School
It is a truly international school in Barcelona, with a roughly one-third breakdown among US, International, and Spanish families. The diverse and engaged student body, faculty, and parent community comprised of over 45 nationalities and cultural heritages is the heart and soul of this school.
BFIS graduates receive offers of acceptance and merit-based scholarships from some of the most prestigious universities in the world.
The teaching approach is based on differentiated instruction and places the student at the center of the learning process to encourage and support students to be curious, independent learners who pursue their passions and understand the beauty and power of knowledge.
What do they offer?
- A differentiated American curriculum from Nursery to Grade 10.
- A college preparatory education, primarily taught in English, including learning support and foreign language programs.
- Strong, fully accredited academic program awarding three diplomas: the American High School Diploma, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP), and the Spanish Bachillerato Certificate.
- Active Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
- A welcoming global community of over 50 nationalities in the heart of Barcelona, Spain.
The American School of Barcelona (ASB) is a private, international, non-profit, coeducational day school serving students from 3-18 years old in the greater Barcelona metropolitan area. All graduates earn an American diploma but the majority choose the IB Diploma Program, which grants them access to Spanish universities as well as to universities around the world. The school has scored above the IBDP world average every year since it started granting the diploma in 2009. In addition to its rigorous academic program, ASB is well known for its personal approach that fosters a "family atmosphere", making visitors and stakeholders feel welcome. Since its beginnings in 1962, parents, students and staff have felt a strong sense of commitment to the school and community. ASB students come from 51 different nationalities, with the most represented being Spain, the US, the UK, Germany and France.
BRITISH, GERMAN AND FRENCH MODEL
British School of Barcelona
Since its foundation in 1958, The British School of Barcelona has been a leading independent school characterised by the pursuit of academic excellence and outstanding care for all children and young people.
They want to help educate and develop leaders: young, well-educated, enthusiastic, happy leaders of today, and wise, confident, well-informed, content leaders of tomorrow. To achieve this, they commit to a set of values and standards, which underpin everything they do in the school.
Founded in 1968, pupils at Oak House are taught according to the UK National Curriculum in primary school and the Spanish curriculum in secondary school. Pupils are accepted from the ages of three to 17. Elementary school is entirely in English and Spanish with Catalan introduced at the age of eight Oak House is British Council credited and aMember of the European Council of International Schools
Hamelin International LAIE
Hamelin offers nursery through secondary education from zero to 18. It follows the Catalan curriculum but teaching is trilingual (English, Spanish and Catalan). The school is around a 20 minute journey from the centre of Barcelona
German School (Deutsche Schule)
The Deutsche Schule is an independent private school recognised by the government of Spain and accredited by the Ministry of Education in Germany. Pre-school is for three to six year olds. The Oberschule is divided in 'gymnasium' classes (classes seven to 12 with the Reifeprifung exam) and the Haupt and Realschule (classes seven to 10). Pupils can take the 'Bachillerato' (classes 11 and 12) and after the 'selectividad' exam can study at any Spanish or German University.
What do they offer?
- Demanding and high-quality training
- An area of encounter and intercultural coexistence
- An education that takes into account values such as respect, tolerance, openness and justice
- A style of teaching that values personal autonomy and commitment
- An educational philosophy that respects and promotes creativity
- Individualized motivation and inclusive training
Bon Soleil (French liceu)
The Bon Soleil school in Gava follows the French education system with English, Spanish and Catalan as secondary languages. Founded in 1969, there are currently 1080 pupils in the school and 71 members of staff.