Expat Life

Back to school – Spanish style

  • September 23, 2019

It’s now almost 4 months since we moved to Spain and after 3.5 months of no school Little H started school here in Spain a week after the kids in England went back. It was a bit of an odd start – after 3 days in we had terrible storms and flooding here so school was closed for 3 days. She went back last week but still hasn’t done a 5 day week yet!

It’s been a great start though, she’s had lots of fun and has come out smiling every day.

Spanish school is very different to school in England. I’m sure we still have a lot to come, it’s early days yet after all, but here are some of the differences so far (other than the languages!)…

The differences between school in England and school in Spain

No uniform

The first one is not having to wear a uniform. Little H loves being able to wear normal clothes to school, it’s so much more comfortable for the kids and let’s them express a bit of their personality. Plus when its still 30°c in September it’s great to be able to wear t-shirt and shorts.

And from a parent’s point if view, not having to wash and iron school uniform is great – not too mention cheaper!

Shorter school day

In our region of Spain, the kids are only at school from 9-1 in September! June is the same but the rest of the year is 9-2 so still a shorter day than in the UK. This gives the kids the chance to do more in the afternoons with family and friends, especially good when the weather is still like summer.

No lunch break

There’s no hour long lunch break at school here, which is why the kids finish earlier for the day. Some schools have “Comedor” when the school day finishes, which is when all the kids pile into the hall for a cooked lunch.

Our school is only small so there’s no Comedor and the kids just have lunch when they get home.

They have a 30 minute break around 11:15 when they can have a snack – sandwich, fruit, croissant etc. They get to go to the playground at the front of the school and eat and play there rather than sitting inside.

Buying books & stationery

In Spain parents need to provide all the stationery – everything from writing books and pens, to rubbers, scissors and colouring pencils, even wet wipes. On the first day we were given a long list of stationery to buy – Google Translate came in very handy!

We also had to pay for the school agenda/diary and several textbooks. We were loaned 5 textbooks by the school as we weren’t given the list in advance but still had to buy 3 other books and a recorder that cost €66 altogether!

No PE kit

Little H does PE (or EF as we now call it!) twice a week. They do it in their normal clothes and have to take a wash bag with soap, small towel/wipes, deodorant etc to freshen up afterwards.

Smaller classes

This may well depend on the school but at our school the class sizes are very small. Little H’s class has 22 children, compared to 31 in the UK, and there’s only one class in the whole year. A few of the other years have 2 classes of 15.

No half-terms

They obviously have a much longer summer holiday, 3 months, but after going back in September there’s no time off (apart from a few bank holiday/festival days) until Christmas.

There’s no half terms in February or May either, they go from Christmas to Easter holidays, and then after Easter it’s straight through until middle of June.

More easy going

Spain isn’t at obsessed with rules, healthy and safety overload, being PC, and wrapping kids in cotton wool.

For the first week of school the names of all the children in each class were on the notice board outside the school so parents could see who was in their child’s class. No cries of “data protection” from any of the parents. I haven’t had to sign a million data protection forms to say who can collect my child from school or take a photo of her either.

Another thing we noticed right away was that the staff are allowed to touch the kids without being labelled as child abusers. On the first day the teachers and secretary hugged the kids after not seeing them for a few months. I’ve seen teachers holding hands with a nervous child, and a male teacher put his arm around a kid who was crying. It’s nice to see some humanity and people that genuinely care for the kids rather than being too scared to touch them. A few Spanish people have commented on the ridiculous rules of UK schools and nurseries banning teachers from hugging kids who are upset or helping them put suntan lotion on.

Little H also tells me that the teachers aren’t as strict as in England!

I’m sure we’ll find many more differences as the first term in Spain goes on! If you’ve moved abroad from the UK, have you noticed any differences in schools?


We've recently moved from England to Spain and have noticed some big differences in school... | differences to school in the uk and spain | expat family | expat kids | expat mum | expat mom | living abroad | school abroad | parenting

No Comments Found

Leave a comment...