If you’re considering moving to Madrid with children, one of the first things to think about is their education.

Education in Spain is free and compulsory from the age of 6 to the age of 16 and is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. Madrid itself has over a thousand schools comprised of state primary and secondary schools, a large number of state-supported faith schools (particularly Catholic schools), private schools and international schools.

Moving to a new country can be a major upheaval for children – ensuring that their education suffers as little disruption as possible and that their integration is as successful as possible will largely depend on the choice of school in which they are enrolled. The following is intended as an introductory guide to help make that choice – which will be influenced by age, first language and the duration of your stay in Spain – easier.

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State schools in Madrid

State schools have a responsibility to help integrate foreign students and often provide ‘bridge’ programs to help get the Spanish language skills of new students up to the necessary level.

The different levels within the Spanish system are:

  • Guarderia – nursery, ages 0-3;
  • Educación Infantil – pre-school, ages 3-6;
  • Educación Primeria – primary school, ages 6-12;
  • ESO – compulsory secondary education, ages 12-16;
  • Bachillerato – further secondary education, ages 16-18.

The school day usually runs from 9am to 2pm at primary school and 9am to 3pm at secondary school.

In order to enrol your child in a state school you should register with the town hall on arrival (Padrón Municipal de Habitantes) and then visit the Education Department. You will be issued with the required forms – including a medical certificate which will need endorsement by a doctor. You will then be able to apply directly to schools in whose catchment area you reside.

Private schools in Madrid

Many state schools in Spain are subsidised by the state and teach in Spanish according to the state-school curriculum. Fees at these subsidised school can be as low as €700 per year whereas at independent private schools – which offer say iGCSEs or the International Baccalaureate – fees can rise to over €8,000 per year.

Bilingual and international schools in Madrid

Unless your child is young enough to join a Spanish language school system at the nursery or pre-school level you’ll likely be looking for a school which offers a bilingual programme or one which teaches in their native language.

Madrid has several international and bilingual schools including:

Deutsche Schule Madrid

Concha Espina, 32. Madrid – a ‘bicultural’ secular, Spanish/German co-ed school which offers tuition from infants to Bachillerato. Tuition fees rise to €4,500 per annum.

Colegio Suizo Madrid

Ctra. de Burgos, 14. Alcobendas – a Swiss secular co-ed school offering bilingual tuition in German and Spanish from infants to Bachillerato.

Hastings School Madrid

Azulinas, 8. Madrid – a small co-ed school teaching the British National curriculum from infant to Sixth Form with two subjects minimum taught in Spanish. Fees range from €480 to €950 per month.

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International College Spain

Vereda Norte, 3. Alcobendas – a genuinely international secular co-ed school teaching in English and French from infant to Bachillerato. Offers the International Baccalaureate and charges tuition fees of €2,900 to €5,512 per term.

International School of Madrid

Rosa Jardón, 3. Madrid – another secular co-ed international school, this time teaching in English to the British Curriculum but with German and Spanish taught as subjects. Fees from €430 to €910 per month.

Liceo Francés Madrid

Plaza del Liceo, 1. Madrid – the French School of Madrid teaches, predictably, to the French curriculum, from infant to Bachillerato. Tuition fees from €4,200 to €5,200 per annum.