Costa Blanca Doyen: Attending a state school in Spain
Working hard is part and parcel of studying in Spain and as blogger Rob Innis finds out, it’s not unusual for students to go home with homework.
Many of Spain’s current generation of grandparents either had little or no formal education. Their childhoods were interrupted by the civil war or maybe their small villages were too poor to have adequate educational facilities.
But their children and their grandchildren have benefited from better times and much improved facilities. Now the current generation of parents are anxious to ensure that their children gain a good education and a high percentage go onto university to study for degrees.
The state-run education system is well-funded and resourced. However, parents are required to contribute towards their children’s books (which are excellent, encouraging them to read and learn) – assistance with this is available to qualifying families via vouchers or bonos.
They start young
They can start pre-school at the age of three, and attend kindergarten. Apart from obviously a lot of play, they begin to learn the basics. Even at that early age, most wear uniforms and can be seen hand in hand with a parent (or grandparent) making their way to school or school bus stop with their little rucksacks on wheels, the same as their older siblings. School is compulsory for all children between the ages of six to 16.
School terms run to a different schedule than the UK, with a long summer break enabling families to enjoy spending time together during the hot summer months. To compensate there are no half-term holidays.
Children are expected to work hard by teachers. It is not unusual for them to come home with homework at an early age. Absenteeism is closely monitored and must be accounted for – parents face harsh penalties for permitting truancy or removing children from school without good reason.
The concept of Open Nights is in existence with parents expected to attend and discuss their off springs educational progress with teachers. This may prove difficult for those who only have limited Spanish and sometimes their children will end up acting as interpreters.
Both forms of Spanish – the general Valenciano and also Castellano (required for some jobs in Valencia) -- and English as a second language are taught in my region. Naturally, in this part of Spain, with so many English children living full time, the Spanish children can learn English as easy as the English children learn Spanish. All part of our multicultural communities.
Children are encouraged to move up to higher studies to gain university qualifications, which are compulsory for most professions.
Local schools have been under pressure with the influx of new families relocating here. Consequently, some schools have had to utilise temporary accommodation until the building programme can catch up with the increased requirements.
Apart from the classroom, sports are still an important part of the curriculum (is that one of the reasons why the Spanish have champion footballers, tennis players, bike riders etc?) with plenty of modern facilities to enjoy outdoor activities and probably after school clubs.
Expat children love it here
I think it fair to say that many expats with school age children feel that the education system is better here than in the UK. It is also likely the class sizes will be smaller too.
Despite their initial reservations, children quickly adapt to their new academic surroundings. You will need to register children into schools with the appropriate paper work, this includes the padrón from your local town hall, and they will be able to help. Check out this useful link.
Otherwise, there are private schools for those who feel that there are benefits and are able, of course, to afford the fees.
Rob Innis / Expatica
Rob Innis is a freelance writer who lives in southern Spain. His works have been regularly published in various magazines and websites. The deputy chairman of the Torrevieja Writers Circle’s short story fiction was published in the Expat anthology ‘Courting the Bull’. For more: http://www.robinnis.wordpress.com
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