An alternative to state education, international schools in Spain are a great option for expat kids. Find out the different types, curriculums and fees of Spanish foreign schools in our handy guide that also provides a list of international schools in Spain.
If you’re moving to Spain with children, there is a wide range of fully international schools, including American and British schools, that you can send your child to as an alternative to enrolling them in state or private Spanish schools.
International schools in Spain can offer a lot to the expat family, but you need to do research to see which Spanish education system best suits the needs of your children.
International schools in Spain
International schools in Spain are independent and will usually follow a curriculum of another country, although fees tend to be higher. In addition to American and British schools there are also French, German, Swedish and other foreign-language schools in Spain. Under Spanish law, all foreign schools must be approved by their country’s embassy in Spain. Some international schools accept children from ages three to 18.
If you prioritise an easy transition for your child over integration, it is worth considering a private international school. Also if you are only staying in Spain on a short-term contract, you may feel it is not worth putting your child through the strain of having to learn another language – although the immersion will be beneficial in future years. See our guide to primary and secondary schools in Spain for information on the pros and cons of choosing an international school for your child.
Your choice of foreign schools will depend on where you live in Spain. There’s a good choice of English-speaking schools in Madrid, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife, and on the costas. For example, there are British schools in Alicante, Barcelona, Cádiz, Fuengirola, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Las Palmas, Madrid, Menorca, Palma de Mallorca, Marbella, Tenerife, Torremolinos and Valencia.
International schools vary hugely, however, and some international schools take pupils from Spain as well as expats. Spain has one of the largest number of ‘foreign’ schools of any European country, and many Spanish seek the prestige of sending their child to an English-speaking or other foreign-language school. So in some schools, lessons may be in English but Spanish can rule in the playground.
Some international schools in Spain are also subsidised, follow a bilingual (English/Spanish) curriculum and are also authorised to accept both Spanish and foreign pupils. They are required to teach the Spanish curriculum, including primary and secondary education, and the bachillerato. These schools provide the opportunity for children to become completely bilingual, and to choose between a Spanish or English-language university or career.
To receive state subsidies, 25% of a school’s total number of pupils must be Spanish (at least 20% in each class). As a condition of receiving government funding, schools with Spanish pupils are subject to inspection by the Spanish school authorities.
International school fees in Spain
Costs of international schools in Spain vary considerably depending on the quality, reputation and location of a school, but are generally lower compared to the cost of private education in Northern Europe and North America. Not surprisingly, schools located in Madrid and Barcelona tend to be among the most expensive.
Fees at the top international schools in Spain vary widely from around €2,000 a year to well over €10,000 a year at senior schools (particularly for boarders). Fees usually do not include registration, books, materials, laundry, insurance, extra-curricular activities, excursions, meals and transport (most private schools provide school buses). As an example, you may need to budget around €800-1000 a term for meals and other extras.
Most international schools in Spain subscribe to insurance schemes covering accidents, both in school and during school-sponsored activities. Some schools award scholarships and offer grants to help parents pay fees, depending on their financial circumstances.
How to apply to an international school in Spain
Apply to private schools as far in advance as possible, as some international schools in Spain have waiting lists for places. You’re usually requested to send school reports, exam results and other records. Before enrolling your child in a private school, check the school website and make sure you understand the withdrawal conditions and fees in the school contract.
It’s advisable to check whether a school is recognised by the Spanish education authorities and whether it belongs to an accredited organisation. You can also consult ECIS for a list of international schools in Spain, otherwise most British schools in Spain belong to the National Association of British Schools in Spain (NABSS), whose members are visited and approved by British school inspectors. Advice about British English-language schools in Spain can also be obtained from the British Council.
International schools in Madrid
The International School of Madrid
Independent co-educational primary and secondary school, offering a British curriculum to children from 3-18 years of age. The school is also a member of the National Association of British Schools in Spain and takes students of all nationalities. ISM aims to create a family/community atmosphere where children feel safe and secure, and in which there is fluid communication between home and school.
Address: Rosa Jardón, 3, 28016 Madrid
Telephone: +34 913 59 21 21 (Primary school) +34 913 02 30 80 (Secondary school)
E-mail: [email protected]
Founded as a private school in September 1967 to provide British education in Madrid for English-speaking students of all nationalities. Since 1993 it has taken Spanish students as well. The school is regularly visited by British inspectors. Among the school’s primary goals are: to encourage an international outlook, awareness of and respect for the different cultures represented among the students; and to help each child to maximise his or her potential, whether intellectual, artistic or physical.
The English Montessori School
Private co-educational school which caters to the educational needs of both Spanish and international students in Madrid. Traditionally TEMS students rank among the best in Madrid on external exams. The language of instruction from 3-16 years of age is English, and the programme followed in the school is the English National Curriculum.
Co-educational day and boarding school which provides British education for children from the age of 2-18 years (pre-nursery to year 13). Since it was founded in 1969, King’s College has gained a reputation for high academic standards and excellent academic results, with students going to the best universities in Britain, the United States, Spain and many other countries.
Co-educational primary and secondary school for children from 3-18 years of age. Founded in 1971, Hastings has become extremely popular and has a earned a good reputation due to its strong commitment to the individual needs of children, focusing on learning rather than teaching, and its excellent academic results.
Established in 1962, this small family school is located in a quiet, residential area in Madrid. Numont is a co-educational primary school for children aged 3-11. The pupil to teacher ratio is 10:1, which ensures that each child is able to receive the individual attention that he or she needs. The emphasis is on building confidence and self-esteem through a healthy, positive attitude towards learning.
British school of long standing prestige, both within Spain and abroad. Kensington is a founding member, since 1978, of NABSS (The National Association of British Schools in Spain). Apart from encouraging and valuing independent thought, creativity, play, investigative skills, enjoyment of study, it also places great store by seriousness and application in study, and by personal discipline in contrast to that externally imposed.
American School of Madrid
Founded in 1961, this is a private non-profit school offering the US high school diploma, the International Baccalaureate, and a unique Spanish “Programa Oficial”.
Evangelical Christian Academy
International school that serves families by equipping students in academic disciplines and offering them a religious education.
International College Spain
International school that offers three International Baccalaureate programs in English.
British Council School
The British Council School is the only school in the world managed by the British Council, and the first British school established in Spain, now with over 70 years’ experience. A member of NABSS, the school provides a high quality British and bilingual education which ensures expat children aged 2-18 will also learn the Spanish language and culture.
International schools in Barcelona
The British School of Barcelona
Since its foundation in 1958, the BSB has been a leading independent school with over 1,300 pupils aged 3–19 of nearly 50 nationalities. While it follows the English National Curriculum, it also meets the requirements of the Spanish curriculum for foreign schools in Spain, which involves the study of Spanish and Catalan language and culture. The school has three campuses: BSB Sitges, BSB Castelldefels and BSB Nexus. It is considered one of the best international schools in Spain.
Address: Calle Ginesta, 26, 08860 Castelldefels, Barcelona / Passeig Isaac Albéniz, s/n, Urb. Vallpineda, 08870 Sitges, Barcelona
Telephone: +34 93 707 95 98 (Castelldefels) / +34 93 882 89 79 (Sitges) / +34 661 297 210 (Nexus)
E-mail: [email protected] (Castelldefels) / [email protected] (Sitges)
The International School of Catalunya
This school offers the English National Curriculum in Barcelona. Through its exemplary programme of instruction, ISCAT is committed to providing a learning environment, free from discrimination, in which a lifelong passion for culture and learning, and an appreciation of both personal and host country cultural heritage is fostered. Integrity, respect and responsibility are the keystones in helping students to become enlightened world citizens and independent thinkers.
Hamelin Laie International School
This school began in 1989 offering infant, primary and secondary education. The facilities have state of the art technology labs and classrooms equipped with intelligent touch screens and tablets for students. With teachers and students from over 25 different nationalities and backgrounds, the school encourages intercultural awareness and values.
Oak House School
This school first opened its doors in September 1968, in what used to be a country estate on San Pedro Claver Street. The school’s mission is primarily to prepare students to be active community members. A tutor is assigned to each pupil to look after his or her education and welfare, to monitor progress and help out with any problems. The school emphasises the principles of solidarity, mutual assistance and respect.
American School of Barcelona
ASB is an International Baccalaureate World School offering the IB Diploma Program. The school has a proven track record of success, with the students scoring well above the international average. ASB is well known for its personal approach that fosters a ‘family atmosphere’, making visitors and stakeholders feel welcome.
The Europa International School
This school is an educational establishment which promotes human rights, as well as universal and democratic values. The Europa International School aims to link closely with other European nations and to give students the opportunity to be fluent in Catalan, Spanish and possess a high level of English. The school enrols mainly Catalan students, but is open to those of other nationalities.
Benjamin Franklin International School
The Benjamin Franklin International School is a non-profit, independent, co-educational day school located in the residential neighborhood of Sarriá. The school offers three Diploma programs: American High School Diploma, Spanish Baccalaureate Certificate and International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. BFIS is a truly international school with a diverse and engaged student body, faculty and parent community, now comprised of over 49 different nationalities.
International schools in Andalusia, Marbella and Costa del Sol
A non-profit-making organisation owned by a charitable trust and administered by two Head Teachers with a Board of Governors, all of whom are parents. Aloha College is situated on the outskirts of Marbella in Spain’s Costa del Sol and was the first all-IB school in Spain, where students study English and Spanish and can gain qualifications in both educational systems.
Address: Urb. El Angel, Nueva Andalucía, 29660, Marbella Malaga
Tel: (+34) 95 281 4133
Sotogrande International School
Founded in 1978 by a group of residents of Sotogrande who wanted to offer to the local and growing international community, a British-style education with a Spanish influence. The school offers a place where students are encouraged to open their hearts and minds to the joy of learning, identify their passions and develop outstanding learning skills with a natural inquisitiveness.
Address: Apartado 15,11310 Sotogrande, San Roque, Cádiz
Tel: +34 956 795 902
Sunland International School
Independent co-educational day school serving students of all nationalities. The academic programme is based on the National Curriculum for England Key stages 1- 4, although it incorporates elements of the Spanish national curriculum. The school is located on a spacious and secure campus to the west and north of Malaga.
Address: Ctra. Cártama Estacion-Pizarra s/n, 29580 Cártama Estacion Malaga
Tel: +34 952 42 42 53
The English International College
Located in Marbella, Spain, and offering the English National Curriculum in an international context to more than 500 students of many nationalities ages 3-18 years.
Address: Urb Ricmar, Carretera Cadiz Málaga, 29600, Marbella
Tel: +(34) 952-83-1058
Swans International Primary and Secondary School
Swan offers both international primary and secondary education and is located just outside the centre of Marbella. It has been on the same campus since 1971, operating under the headship of its owner and founder, Tessa Swan.
Address: Capricho s/n, 29602 Marbella Malaga
Tel: (+34) 952 773 248 (Primary school) +34 952 902 755
St. Anthony’s College
St. Anthony’s College was established in 1968 and offers an English curriculum for those aged 3-16 together with Spanish ESO and Bachillerato.
Address: Camino de Coin km 5.25,, Mijas-Costa Malaga
Tel: +34 952 47 31 66
International school based on the Costa del Sol providing primary and secondary education following the British curriculum. The school offers education at the reception, primary, secondary, and sixth form levels.
Address: Avenida Golandrinas 16, Atalaya Park,, 29680 Estepona Malaga
Tel: +34 952 888 894
Website: available here.
International schools in other Spanish locations
Founded in 1987, this institution based in Valencia is a private and mixed British school offering a comprehensive education to international and Spanish students aged up to 18.
Address: Mas de León Street 5 – 46530 Puçol, Valencia
Telephone: +34 961 424 500
Group of private international schools offering bilingual and English education to families in the Valencian community.
Address: Ronda Narciso Monturiol and Estarriol Technology Park , 7-9 (1st floor right) Office 15
46980, Paterna, Valencia (Central Office)
Telephone: +34 962 740 272
E-mail: [email protected]
American School of Bilbao
Founded in 1967, the school offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma and has had a 95% pass rate among students over the past three years.
Baleares International School
School in Mallorca providing a British-style education for boys and girls aged 3-18. Two campuses, in Palma and in south west Mallorca.
Address: Crta. Cala Figuera, 3A, Sa Porassa, Calvia, 07181, Mallorca
Telephone: +34 971 133 167 (Sa Porassa Campus) +34 971 403 161 (San Augustin Campus)
E-mail: [email protected]
Bellver International College
Co-educational school in Mallorca founded in 1950, the oldest privately owned British school in Spain. Lessons taught in English. Spanish, French, German and Catalan also offered.
Address: Carrer de Josep Costa i Ferrer, 6, 07015 Palma, Illes Balears, Mallorca
Telephone: +34 971 401 679
American School of Las Palmas
Private international school in Gran Canaria offering a formal education to children from pre-school (aged 3) through to 12th grade.
British School of Gran Canaria
Non-profit school founded in 1966 and offering a British education including International GCSE and A Level examinations.
Address: Crta. Tafira a Marzagán s/n. El Sabinal 35017 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Tafira School)
Shoreless Lake School
Founded in 1997 as the Spanish branch of the school in New Jersey, America. Teaches the American curriculum as well as offering a Christian religious education.
Address: Apdo. 239, 30850 Totana, Murcia
Telephone: +34 968 424 386