School Enrolment in Spain Part 3

Since Part 1 and Part 2 of School Enrolment in Spain, I have pursued my real-person-research involving lots of legwork and in-the-flesh encounters to add to my confusion by visiting several state schools close to my house. First, I visited the school 4 minutes walk away but which is across the rather arbitrary municipal border. There I was informed that, contrary to what I was told at the Town Hall, I can indeed apply to schools there but:
  1. I’d be awarded 0 points as we live outside the official catchment area
  2. I could only apply to the schools of a single municipality

That would mean that I could list this school first, but my four back up choices would have to be in that municipality too. Problem is, only two of them are within walking distance so if those are full I might then end up in a school which is actually far away.

Living in the school’s catchment area is apparently the second biggest points-earner, after having a sibling at the school. You get fewer points in a neighbouring catchment area, and none if you are outside the school’s municipality.

points for school enrolment

points for school enrolment

However, staff at another school told me that in theory there is no obstacle to listing schools from two municipalities on your application, but in practice the administrative side doesn’t work well, as the municipalities don’t always collaborate well together. Now that’s no surprise.

The schools in my municipality introduce English as a foreign language at varying ages (some in preschool, others from 6 years old) and a couple are centros bilingües meaning they teach a few of subjects in English (like social studies, art and physical education) from a certain age. The school across the border also begins French at age 10-ish.

The schools confirmed that I’d be able to get the application form from them on the first working day in March (job done) and the deadline is at the end of the month. Looking at it now, the list of requirements isn’t difficult to meet. I don’t need a sworn translation of her partida de nacimiento (birth certificate) which is in English because they’ll accept a photocopy of the passport as is. They don’t even ask for the volante de empadronamiente, just authorisation to check up on the fact that we are registered here via the Oficina de Estadística. One school said it wasn’t bothered about proof of her vaccinations being up-to-date. The other didn’t need it translated – good job as it’s in a mix of Arabic and French.
school enrolment requirements

school enrolment requirements

The bottom line is, I am no clearer on “official” policy but relieved to see that – so far at least – the red tape is pretty slack. In fact, the paperwork seems totally feasible, and unless there’s a nasty surprise waiting for me, it’s not at all the bureaucratic nightmare I expected. The people, on the other hand, have fully lived up to my expectations, being amiable and pleasant all along the way. And as a bonus I’ve learnt some new words, such as…
  • el centro docente – educational establishment (as in France, any kind of paperwork always sounds like it’s trying to climb up in the world)
  • el aula – classroom (like el agua, it’s a feminine noun in disguise)
  • alumno/a – pupil (that’s current, or in this case future, but not former. The English word alumnus would apparently be ex-alumno or antiguo alumno)
  • tributario – not tributary, but tax/fiscal (think of the tribute, or even national insurance contributions)