Enrolling in a Spanish state school
In order for a child to enrol in a Spanish state school, an interview is required and, occasionally, an examination which will usually test the child's knowledge of Spanish.
New arrivals in Spain must have their children's education record officially verified through a process known as homologation or convalidation. This can be an expensive and lengthy process involving the confirmation of credits and marks for each year of schooling. The price depends on the number of years to be convalidated. In some towns there may be only one 'public notary' authorised to carry out the necessary work and consequently he usually charges a considerable amount. Without the necessary paperwork a child won't be accepted at a state school, irrespective of his qualifications (foreign qualifications such as the British GCSE aren't recognised in Spain). If possible, this process should be completed before arriving in Spain as a child may not be accepted at a school until the official papers (confirming convalidation) have been received and stamped by the Spanish Department of Education.
In Spain, children must attend a state school within a certain distance of their home, so if you have a preference for a particular school, it's important to buy or rent a home within that school's catchment area. Town halls and provincial Ministry of Education offices can provide a list of local schools at all levels.
To enrol a child in a Spanish school you must provide your town hall with the following documents:
- Your child's birth certificate or passport with an official Spanish translation (if necessary)
- Proof of immunisation
- Proof of residence in the form of certificate of Empadronamiento, failing that an electricity or telephone bill in your name. If you don't have any bills, a rent receipt, lease or proof of ownership is acceptable.
- Proof of convalidation
Readers will be pleased to learn that the above procedure does not appear to be followed in practice.