There are four types of schools in Spain: free state Spanish, subsidized private schools, bilingual schools, and fully independent schools. Barcelona provides a wide variety of school options for multicultural families and expats. My husband Daniel and I need to decide which education system is the best for children before even thinking about the right school. Our main goal is to send our children to a school that embraces multicultural education which lead to a global mindset. (Read: Can a Multicultural Society Foster a Global Mindset Child?) Every family has different goals and values; choosing a suitable system to fit in your family is the best way to go.
Daniel and I are like many parents, and we don’t take this decision lightly. There are a few things we considered before moving on to select a school.
1. What is the mutual family language:
The standard Spanish school offers an excellent education program for free. The language models are Spanish and Catalan; some of the schools may teach Catalan before learning the national language Spanish.
Daniel is native in Portuguese; I am native in Mandarin, and English is the mutual family language To implement a trilingual environment and after doing tons of research regarding this subject. We decided to speak our mother tongue language to our children consistently and find a school that teaches primarily in English. As for the local surviving skills, the school will also teach children to Spanish and Catalan regularly.
2. Multicultural classroom
The cultural diversity and multinational teacher population are essential. In the beginning, we hope to help them “fit in” more comfortable by joining a multicultural classroom. In the long run, growing and learning in a multicultural environment gives children a greater understanding of others’ beliefs and behaviors.
3. Education Budgets
The cost of an international school is the highest among all the other four education systems. If your budget is limited, there is an assortment of bilingual schools in Barcelona. Most of the schools are implementing the English language nowadays.
Unfortunately, there is no one size fit all or a perfect scenario. International schools can fulfill our requirements at this moment, and there is a cost to come with it.
In reality, we also need to consider school location, If you are choosing a state school, location matters.
Inside or outside the city center?
Where is the apartment/house should be?
How long it takes from office to school?
Picking and dropping children every day can be time-consuming; we want to make it pick up on time.
These are minor but critical logistics every family is adjusting in daily life, and these need to fall in line as well to work out the plan.
After choosing the education system – an international school that speaks primarily in English, we started searching for options. We have targeted a few international schools, research on the school education program, and arrange a visit making sure the school provides children a safe environment.
Questions we asked during school selection:
1. what’s a typical class program? Any art & craft, music & dancing or sports?
2. How many languages involved in the classroom from teachers and the nationalities of the teachers.
3. Is the classroom spacious and getting sufficient light? Is the environment clean and safe?
4. How much outdoor time per day?
5. What is the student-teacher ratio?
6. Any homework assignment and exam? And how much should we expect?
7. What are the after school activities available?
8. How does the school handle situation like bullying?
9. Any parents committee to join and participate? Do they arrange any out-side-school gathering activities?
10. Catering, bus options, tuition.