Moving to Spain as an expat is exciting, but can be equally stressful. It can feel extra overwhelming to also having to look for schools, not knowing what is best. You are excited about going on this great adventure, but you also don’t want to screw up the kids, right? I get you, we’ve been there! And although it hasn’t been easy, my kids are now thriving in school and fluent in Spanish.
Is Valencia a nice place to live? Oh, yes. Living in Valencia is something you won’t regret. It ticks all the boxes, it’s a safe city, and it is nearly always sunny. Whether you are moving to Spain from the US or the UK, or anywhere else, Valencia is perfect for families.
Take the shortcut: I did some prep work for you!
You have probably been Googling yourself silly already (trust me, I did the same when I was in your shoes!), so in this post I share some tips on where to start with your search. If you are interested in taking a shortcut, however, I recommend downloading my E-Book. I have put together nearly 50 pages worth of valuable information for parents who are looking into moving to Valencia with their children. I cover everything from schools, neighbourhoods, what to expect, tips on how to integrate quickly, and helpful links to start settling in. If anything, it saves you a tonne of time gathering information.
My E-Book Moving to Valencia, Spain, with children
My E-book is an excellent place to start, to make you feel more informed, prepared and ready to make your dream reality. As a mother of two young children, who’s gone through the process, I am sharing my knowledge and first-hand experience as an expat in Valencia.
The e-book includes:
- A list of the best neighbourhoods for families in Valencia
- A list of expat family-friendly towns and suburbs
- A clear explanation about the difference between schools and what they offer
- First-hand experiences of an expat family in Valencia
- Personal stories
- Information about healthcare
- Links to the best schools for expats
Price: $14.95 + VAT
Moving to Spain with children: Public, semi-private or private schools
I was blown away by the vast amount of schools Valencia. They range from public schools, semi-private schools (‘concertados’) to private schools. Many schools have nursery, primary and secondary school/baccalaureate all in one building. That way your child can stay in the same school their entire childhood. No wonder parents get quite anxious about finding the right school.
Public schools in Spain
Public schools are state-run, Spanish, free, and many parents are happy with their children to go here. The public schools, there are of course many, are the trickiest to select as an expat. You just don’t have any knowledge about which ones are good. Also, if you don’t know where you are going to be living yet, it is pointless trying to enrol them since you need a postcode within the catchment area.
Semi-private / concertado
The semi-private, or ‘concertado’ status means that they are run and paid by the state but as a parent you contribute a monthly fee to receive the extras that a school offers. This could mean perhaps an extra teacher per class, more freedom in terms of their curriculum and how they design their classes and activities. A lot of the semi-private schools are religious (Catholic). Most are very affordable.
Private, English or Spanish schools in Valencia
There are also a great number of private schools in Valencia. Some are small, other very large, and they are based on either the Spanish, British or American curriculum. The best known among expats are the American school, Caxton College and British School of Valencia, but there are many more to check out.
Even though a lot of the private, bilingual or English-speaking schools in Spain call themselves ‘international’, almost 100% of the pupils are Spanish children. Many Spanish parents nowadays want their offspring to become fluent in English. The ‘international’ part has mostly to do with the fact that half or almost all lessons are taught in English or the curriculum is based on the American or British system. It also means for many of these schools there are waiting lists.
Valenciano as a compulsory subject
Valenciano is compulsory in all schools in the Valencian region, private or not, with a minimum amount of hours per week. Most schools choose to teach subjects like music, religion or science in Valenciano in addition to the actual Valenciano language classes, to make up for the required hours.
How to get a space in a Spanish school
Spanish parents often start looking at their preferred school almost as soon as their baby is born. Then they enroll their kids as early as they can possibly start. In Spain this is the year they turn 3 and in the private schools that are offering preschool childcare, they even babies accept babies. So by the time you arrive from abroad with your 4 and 6-year old, especially halfway through the year, classes are full. You may find yourself having to put your kids in a school that wasn’t even on your shortlist.
School enrollment times in Spain
Enrollment time is usually mid May and school websites and the local municipality publish the exact dates on their websites.