Families that plan to stay in Madrid for a relatively short time most frequently benefit from an internationally accredited education for their children. Families that plan a long-term residence in Madrid, however, may want to consider that their children’s well-being largely depends on their ability to integrate themselves among their Spanish peers. For your children, this means adopting Spanish as a second language. While younger learners can pick up a second language in a matter of months, it remains important to choose the most encouraging environment possible.
How, then, can ex-pat families choose between an international curriculum and the opportunity for their children to best adapt to a Spanish way of life? Extensive research on our part has identified key common characteristics of the private schools that best balance these two concerns for ex-pat parents.
These characteristics are as follows:
- 10 percent or fewer international children within the student body
- A combined curriculum between English and Spanish
- Strong international curriculum in the core subjects
The best schools for your child’s integration are:
In Pozuelo: Kensington
Located in Pozuelo, Kensington mandates a strong command of Spanish for admission to begin with. Children who have well-founded classroom knowledge of Spanish will benefit from the opportunity to fortify their linguistic abilities in the hallways. 90 percent of the student body are Spanish children aged 3 to 18. At the same time, Spanish and English are key within a Kensington classroom. With a British curriculum available throughout most of their educational career, children are challenged by a preparatory internationally accredited education. In the final years of bachillerato, or high school, the curriculum reverts to the Spanish national for several core subjects in order to give students a well-rounded perspective on their Spanish heritage and foster practical skills to live and work as independent adults in Spain.
An icon of diplomacy: British Council School
Founded in 1940, the British Council School has evolved into an icon of international diplomacy, cultural exchange, and academic excellence. For good reason, many of Spain’s most influential politicians have chosen a British Council school education for their children. With its offerings of a bi-cultural, yet distinctly British curriculum, the British Council School is firmly dedicated not only to foster excellence in its student body, but to ensure healthy personal development of individual students from age 3 until they leave for university.
The British Council School devoted to being something of an informal embassy in Madrid, the opportunities for cultural exchange among the students are truly excellent. One key point of the school’s mission is to ensure a 96 percent population of Spanish students. A second point is to provide a non-selective, egalitarian, and bi-cultural education. With all students going on to study at top universities in Spain and Europe, it is safe to the say the school completes its mission.
To feel like an Aravaca native: Colegio Internacional Aravaca
Colegio Internacional promises integration into Spanish language and culture both in the classroom and outside of formal learning. With the Spanish national curriculum offered, the school is nevertheless bilingual. In primary school, 70 percent of courses are offered in English, and 30 of classes are given in Spanish. The ratio will allow children to succeed academically while adjusting to a second language.
Moreover, with only 9 percent of its students coming from outside Spain, the cultural integration is enforced in the hallways. The strongest indicator of a bilingual school’s dominant language is the language spoken between the children when outside the classroom. While children graduate some of Madrid’s highest test scores in English, children learning Spanish as a foreign language reach fluency thanks to an environment that quickly adopts them as one of the locals.