September means the end of summer and the start of school. Most parents and kids look forward to returning to the routine after 11 weeks of holidays, but if you’re new to the area and don’t speak the language, it can be hard to know what to do. The HomeRentalontheWeb team are experts in life on the Costa del Sol and of course long term rentals, but we also have experience of all aspects of education in Spain. We have parents who have sent their kids to Spanish state school and those who have chosen international schools within the team, so we wanted to share a few tips and tricks to get you ready to start.
When does it all begin?
The school term in Andalucia starts on Monday 10th of September for primary and Monday 17th for secondary students. International schools tend to follow the English terms more closely and start around the 5th of September. Some Spanish private schools start the Friday before (7th), to give information to kids and parents before the official start on Monday 10th.
The most tricky years are the first year they begin a new school. There are also more daunting stages when they change from infants to primary school and primary to secondary. This can leave you unsure what to do and nervous whether you’re doing things right. If you’re feeling like this, don’t worry, even in your own language it’s hard to learn the ropes, but you’ll get there!
We find that most non-Spanish parents want to have information a lot earlier than they provide it, so that they can plan. Sadly, you’re unlikely to know much before the beginning of September, so there’s no point fighting against the system. However, if you want to get ahead, have a look if the school has a website, or check the AMPA (PTA) Facebook page to see if anything has been posted.
Have a look if there are any Facebook groups for other parents, such as Costa Mums and Little Ones and Costa Kids and Education. The more local the better with these groups, such as the Schools Noticeboard, which has been set up for information about schools around Manilva, Sabinillas and Casares. Getting more local groups avoids confusion between schools and areas. If you ask questions on the general ones, makes sure you state where your kids go to school, so people can give you the right information.
Often, notices are put on the school gates once the teachers are in from the 3rd of September and there are also some limited office hours during these times, normally in the morning. If you have questions, it’s worth heading to the school on the Tuesday or Wednesday in the first week of September and see what you can find out. You should be able to check whether your children have got a place at comedor (lunch and play from 2-4) in this first week of term too.
If it’s your first year, there may be a meeting the week before the start of term with the teachers and these are often on the gates, or on the AMPA pages. Look out for these to make sure you don’t miss it, as these are very useful meetings and are when you will get your book lists and information on what materials you need to buy, or whether you need to put money into a class account so that the teacher can buy the materials they need for the whole class. Books are quite expensive for infants, as they are workbooks. Expect to spend around 100€ on books and 50€ on materials and you won’t get a nasty surprise.
For primary students the books are paid for by the state and you should have got a “cheque de libros” at the end of term. This is a piece of paper with all the books your kids need with a stamp to show that the education authority is paying for these. You need to take this piece of paper to your local book store, ideally before the beginning of term, as it can take a while for the books to come.
School hours at the beginning of the term
Often the first week has reduced hours for the littlest ones, with only one or two hours the first few days, to let the kids get used to everything. This can be very tricky to handle for parents who are working, so bear this in mind and consider taking a few extra holiday days to make sure you can be flexible.
After school activities don’t start straightaway either. It was the beginning of October before these really got going at some schools, so make sure you have cover to pick up the kids earlier over this time.
We hope this information will help you settle into the new term. For more information about going back to school read our article five steps to preparing for the new school year
Best of luck!