One of the primary challenges faced by families relocating to Madrid is public school registration, a process that involves navigating heavy red tape and multiple deadlines. Most publicly accessible information and instructions are only available on text-heavy government websites published exclusively in Spanish, making the process intimidating. Our step-by-step outline takes you through the matriculation procedures from the day you arrive in Madrid to the day you wave goodbye as your children start their first day of class.
In Madrid, the school registration calendar generally looks like as follows:
- 18 April-9 Mayo Presenting your applications to specific schools
- 20 May Schools publish a provisional list of admitted students
- 23-25 May Parents can contest the provisional list
- 27 May Final list of admissions published
- 15-30 June Parents return to the school to officially matriculate children in primary school
- 1-15 July Parents return to the school to officially matriculate children in secondary school
Spanish families frequently opt for schools that are located close to home, and parents generally apply in person at the public school of their choice. Admissions to public schools are allocated based on a points system. The more points a student has, the more priority he or she has in admission to a given school. More points are allocated if a family lives nearby to the given school, if children have special needs, if the family income is lower, if there are more than three children, or other extenuating circumstances.
What is the Process for Ex-pat Families?
Ex-pat families should pay attention to the points system, as it explains why schools may not have space for your children–especially if you apply outside the calendar deadlines. But the application process for ex-pat families is a little different than for Spanish families. Ex-pat families will want to register children for school via the local Comisión de Escolarización. Each Comisión de Escolarización corresponds to specific school districts, and will inform families what schools have open spots, and how many. School registration for ex-pat families looks more like this:
1) As soon as you move to Madrid, your family needs to secure the empadronamiento, which can be secured exclusively via the Ayuntamiento or your local junta. If you live in Chamberí, for example, you can go to the Junta de Chamberí to make an appointment for your padrón. Your empadronamiento is the necessary proof that you live in a certain school district, so we highly recommend you secure this paperwork as soon as possible.
2) You also need your child’s birth certificate (original and photocopy) AND your child’s passport (original and photocopy).
3) Make an appointment at your local Comisión. Find your local comisión by clicking here. Making the appointment is best done in person. Walk-in appointments are possible, but they are on a first come, first served basis.
4) On the day of your appointment at the comisión, go with the following papers:
- your padrón, your child’s passport and birth certificate (remember originals and copies)
- the registration form. The registration form for schools can be found here, and the forms for bilingual schools or complaints can be downloaded from this page.
5) Try to arrive at your appointment at least TEN MINUTES EARLY to complete one final step. In the waiting room, there will be a list of schools and a map posted on the wall. Before you are called into the office to present your paperwork, write down your TOP THREE choices for schools. Your child will be placed in one of these, based on the availability of spots.
6) About a week after your appointment, the comisión will call or email you to tell you where your children have been placed. Note: If you have multiple children, they may not get placed in the same school.
7) Go in person to the school your children have been admitted to and confirm matriculation. The months of July and August schools are closed, but the first two weeks of July schools should be open in the mornings to finalise matriculation. If you are unable to get in touch with the school, you can complete this final step in September. The comisiones will likely tell your family that this step must be completed by mid-July. In practice, however, schools are not as strict about these deadlines, because they are required to accommodate families in special circumstances.
8) Send your children off with a big hug and kiss on their first day of class in September. The first days of school are a little overwhelming for every child, and yours will quickly make friends and perfect their Spanish in an exciting city to call home.