Schools – Part 1

The efforts of parents to get their kids into a good school has been well publicised in the UK. But nothing could prepare me for the Spanish system…

It’s up to the Parents…

Parents seem to go to any lengths to get their kids into the “right” school in the UK. At least if you believe the media coverage – and on this subject, mostly I do.

From moving to a house with the right postcode to applying for every scholarship that is on offer. I even know people who have miraculously (no pun intended) “changed their religion” in order to get their kids into faith based schools.

There is a kind of panic associated with finding the right school that I never fully understood before. Now I have to think about it for my own son. To be honest though I still don’t quite get it. We have been looking at schools for Dani – mostly private – and the whole process is wearing me down. I really don’t know where to begin.

Spain versus UK

In Spain school starts at 3 year olds. But it is a calendar based thing. So, if the child is 3 years old by end of December of that year then they start school in the September of that year. For Dani who was born in November this means he will still be 2 when he starts school. It is not exactly school at that age of course. It is still very much like nursery and indeed the early years are referred to as nursery and reception. Then it becomes year 1 etc… “Aha” I hear you cry. “But that is no different to the UK system”.

Well in the UK, even though many do so, it is not compulsory to send your child to nursery at 3 years old and reception class at 4 years old. Whereas in Spain it is. From 3 years old it is considered full time compulsory “school” (although they still refer to the first two years as nursery and reception classes).

Also the early years classes are not necessarily full school days in the UK. In Spain they are.

In Spain the tax credit assistance for nursery costs stops when the child is 3 years old. This is the time they have to go to full time school so nursery costs no longer apply. From what I can gather, in the UK, half day for 3-4 year olds is free and parents pay if they want their children to stay the extra half day. Then most of the nursery sessions are free from 4 to 5 years old.

Private versus State School

In the UK there are still many state schools that are considered OK or even “good”. In Spain state schools were not even an option I was told. I have no experience of the state schools in Spain so I need to investigate that one. Surely they cannot be that bad?

This is all very difficult for me. Having been educated in the state (comprehensive) system I find it hard to come to terms with paying for my boy’s schooling. Why pay when it is there for free? Or at least already paid for by taxes. This is the mentality I have and I need to lose it quickly. The clock is ticking and the deadlines for school entry fast approaching.

The private schools are not cheap either – no surprises there. It is between 6k and 8k (Euros) per year and that is just for a (not quite) 3 year old. Could I not send my son to an excellent private school in the UK for those prices?

Reality check…

But you know the biggest problem I have with all this? At this rate I will need to go back to work sooner than I thought. My short term plans derailed. My new non-working lifestyle shot down in flames before I have barely had the chance to settle into it. Woe is me (and so on…).

And so the search is on for the right school. A good school – no, make that perfect! – that he can possibly stay with for the next 16 years. It is seriously starting to freak me out.

To be continued…

2 thoughts on “Schools – Part 1

  1. Came across your blog purely by accident, whilst searching the net for the origins of “plant a tree, raise a son, write a book”. And this is a delightful blog, totally. Very interesting would be an understatement. Anyway I just wanted to share my 2 cents about public schools here in the Philippines – hanging on the assumption that the system here is very much like Spain, the (former) mother country. Public schools are basically a formality to prepare the populace for blue-collar jobs. This is a sweeping generalisation but an accurate one since majority of the populace are hovering somewhere around the poverty line, I don’t want to speak ill of anybody so I’ll leave it at that. The only exceptions are science high schools, which are actually public high schools with even more prestige, or at least as much prestige as elite private schools because these are high calibre schools groomed by the gov (and get hefty gov funding as well), the so-called cream of the crop. The Einstein from the dumps, the future slum dog millionaire and even some of the elites themselves go to science high schools. I don’t know if there are such a thing in Spain. At any rate I haven’t read a lot of your posts yet, so I wish you and your boy the best of luck! I’d sure like to know how you’re faring, it’s been almost 6 years since this post and your son’s probably 7 now, or 3rd grade.

    1. Hi. Wow! Yes a lot has gone on since that post all those years ago. We are now in Australia, since January 2020 so if you go back to that date on the blog you can follow our adventures and loss of holidays (due to coronavirus lockdowns etc) then that’s a good place to start.
      Well I guess the schools on Spain are more like other European countries than Philippines. TO be honest just like in the UK schools used to be half and half pushing kids towards blue collar work or further education. Then in recent decades the push was on going to university. In very recent years however they have come to realise that university degrees just for the sae of further education are not worth much in the workplace and there has been a big shortage of skilled labour and apprenticeships. Spain is much like the UK too in that respect.
      Apologies as there is no name on the email I cannot address you properly, but can I ask are you Filipino? Your English is very good if not your first language. One of my favourite boxers is Filipino – I m sure you know who… he just lost at the weekend.
      Please keep reading. I actually have anther post coming out soon about that saying “plant a tree, raise a son, write a book”.
      All the best
      Chris (aka An Old Dad)

Leave a Reply