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Tips on going back to school in Spain

Tips on going back to school in Spain

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!

Getting information

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!

Get ready for the back to school rush

The long school holidays are finally coming to an end and now the race is on to get the uniform, books, rucksacks, lunch boxes and everything ready to go. International schools, primary and secondary schools in Spain all differ in terms of when they go back. International schools vary a little, Sotogrande International School for example start on 2nd September with Swans not starting until 9th. The Spanish state primary schools start on 9th September and the secondary schools on 16th September.

If you’re looking for affordable uniforms, many supermarkets such as Alcampo in La Cañada have started selling them, with a wide range of books and pens on offer too. There are also websites such as Marbella Family Fun where you can search for second hand uniforms for specific private schools on the school uniform forum.

There’s also advice from Specsavers that before the start of the new school term that you take your child to have an eye test to make sure that everything is as it should be, as experts believe that as many as one in four learning difficulties could be vision related! There are two Specsavers on the Costa del Sol, in Marbella and Fuengirola, where they speak English and offer eye tests for free.

If you’re concerned about speaking Spanish with the teachers, there are lots of good resources out there for you, we found this extensive list of school and learning related vocabulary which should give you a bit more confidence on the first day and in our experience, they are patient with the foreign parents and many speak some English.

At this time of year we see a big shift away from the holiday rental rush to people looking for a comfortable family home to rent before they take the plunge and buy. We have a great selection of Costa del Sol long term rental properties available, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Educating your children in Spain

When you make the move over to a new country with your family it can be hard to now what choices to make with your children’s education. If you are renting long-term in Spain, especially in the popular expat areas such as the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca and Costa Brava, parents can make the choice between highly regarded International schools, which educate children in English and work to the UK GCSE or A-Level systems or the International baccalaureate. Continue reading “Educating your children in Spain”