School Enrolment in Spain part 2

See here for Part 1 of School Enrolment in Spain.
After a good look at “colegios públicos” on Google Maps, I went along to the ayuntamiento (town hall) to start my real-people-research. The ‘Department of Education’ ended up being a nameless office on the second floor. In fact, a lady from the information desk readily accompanied me to make sure I got the right place. I’m consistently surprised by how patient and helpful people are despite my terrible Spanish.
In fact sometimes I wonder how they understand me at all. I stammer out stuff that I’m not even sure is Spanish, it’s probably French with a few more o’s and a few less nasals, muddled with English word order, and yet somehow they get it (probably from my body language) and answer me as if I were a normal respectable citizen. This did not happen when I moved to Paris. No-one was quite this indulgent, believe me.
ah, the joy of tax stamps

ah, the joy of tax stamps

One of my main aims was to find out which schools I can or should apply to. Our address is close to the border between two municipalities. One school I had in mind, which is just five minutes walk away, is actually in a different municipality, and the official told me there is no way to enrol there unless we get ourselves declared resident in that municipality. (I later found out this is not quite true.)
There are five other schools in our municipality within a 12-minute walk (thanks Google Maps for this precision!) so it’s unlikely I’ll actually end up having to drive them to school, something I really want to avoid.
He *thinks* the applications are in March. I guess he too is lacking a decent web site with all the basics spelt out.
In the list of establishments he jotted down for me, he marked one school with a small asterisk and another with a large asterisk. “Those are good,” he said matter-of-factly. I assume that the size of the star is linked to just how good he considered them to be. Then he told me the rest of the procedure is done through the school directly, and stood up to shake my hand. My visit was fast drawing to a close. I was still trying to figure out where to get my volante de empadronamiento to prove residence in my municipality, otherwise I would have tried to get more details on exactly what makes these two colegios better than the others.
Downstairs in the town hall, I paid for a couple of tax stamps (oh, the happy memories of Lebanese bureaucracy and tax stamps) and got my volante de empadronamiento. So the next stop is to speak to some schools directly. And gather local opinions on “good” schools in the hope of unearthing some actual information. Or failing that at least practise my Spanish.

Read on for part 3 and part 4.
And here is some background to why we chose state school in Spain.

6 Responses to “School Enrolment in Spain part 2”

  1. Maria says:

    I laughed at “I’m consistently surprised by how patient and helpful people are despite my terrible Spanish.
    In fact sometimes I wonder how they understand me at all.” Oh how I suffer from the same problem. You would think after over two years of living in Spain I would be more confident in speaking. I understand more than I can talk, and its so embarrasing, (for me), but I agree people are patient, and I thank them for that!

    As for good schools, I think the public schools are great, if you have an older child, maybe its better to put them in a private or British school, but that can prove quite expensive, giving thought to monthly fees, uniforms (which cost a freaking bomb!) Recently I had to pay 35 euros for a pair of trousers for my 14 year old… oh how I miss Asdas offers of 2 pairs for £15!

    • Yes I can imagine with older kids it’s a lot harder to stick them straight into the state-run schools. At age four, immersion shouldn’t be too rough, but it’s not the same thing at all as putting a non-Spanish speaking 12-year old straight into all-Spanish school.

  2. Kate says:

    Hi there! Thanks for your comment on my (mostly defunct) blog! I just found this in my feed reader and thought you might be interested (of course, you may have already seen it…)

    I have added your blog to my feed. Good luck with everything.

    • Thanks, so far the feeling I’m getting is that where Spanish school is different to the Anglo-Saxon model, it is similar to France, which helps as I did several years as an English assistant there. Interesting link! BTW I really enjoyed your insights on schooling and hope you keep blogging about them somewhere. :)

  3. Laoma Beck says:

    Wait! Why did you stop? How did the school visits go?

    Like everyone else, we’re looking to move to Spain for a year. Visa applications are in process etc. But registering for schools seems very complicated and hard to figure out from abroad. We won’t get to Spain until July or August. Is that too late to register a kid for school? My only concern is that the school be within walking distance (Sevilla, no plan for a car) of where we live. Preferably we would pick to live somewhere close to a great school. My kids will be 4 and 7.

    I’m very patient. I can make a trip to Spain in February if needed. And I have LOTS of experience with non Ango-Saxon government process (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Yemen, Egypt, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Tunisia, ven Lebanon:) which is to say I’m patient and polite.

    Thank you!

    • Hello there, at the bottom of the post I have added links to the next two parts of this saga, but do also click on the tag “schooling” for everything directly related.

      Its definitely not an internet-friendly procedure – I had to get the form from the school itself in March, I don’t know if any schools make theirs available online. Latecomers can be admitted, but how far you have to travel will depend on how full the closest schools are.

      In short, the official deadline in 2015 was end of March, and the application form was only available from the beginning of March, so February may be too early. Also, when you apply you do need proof that you are living in the area (not just on holiday). Plus you need to be around to complete the process. We went away in late May and nearly missed the matriculation part of enrolling in early June.

      Your experience will come in handy for sure! It’s not a difficult process as such, just hard to do from a distance. All the best with your preparations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>