International schools in Spain follow alternative curriculums to the Spanish national curriculum, which, additionally, may be adapted for the different autonomous communities in the country. These schools may either offer the British, or the American curriculum, or the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. Some schools may include more than one educational pathway in their offer, thus widening the choices for students by the end of compulsory education.

Schools offering the British curriculum are commonly referred to as British Schools Overseas (BSO).

British Schools Overseas

According to the International School Consultancy (ISC Research), there are more than 3,700 British schools around the world, which may either have a British national orientation, and/or use elements of the UK national curriculum.

Only in Spain, NABSS (the National Association of British Schools in Spain) reports a steady growth of membership since its foundation in 1978 with 78 schools who, collectively, are educating more than 34,000 children. This, they state, corresponds “to the sustained growth of British education within Spain.”

Fully accredited British Schools Overseas are inspected every 3 years following a voluntary inspection scheme for overseas schools issued by the UK Department for Education (DfE). This DfE approved BSO inspection framework ensures that the schools meet a set of standards about the quality of provision and its compatibility with independent schools in England. Elements such as the school’s ethos, curriculum, teaching, care for pupils and pupils’ achievements are all analysed. The school’s performance is benchmarked against the standards and characteristics that apply to an independent school in England.

The benefits of a British education

British education has a strong reputation worldwide. According to COBIS, the Council of British International Schools, the key elements that parents value most of a first-class British style educational system are:

  • the broad and balanced curriculum,
  • high academic standards and quality of teaching and learning,
  • a wide range of co-curricular activities and extra-curricular opportunities,
  • strong welfare support and pastoral care system,
  • a keen focus on the development of the whole child as they develop and nurture qualities such as resilience, adaptability, self-confidence, tolerance and international mindedness,
  • an understanding of modern British society,
  • teaching that equips pupils with the skills and qualifications to enter, or re-enter, the UK education system at school, college, or university level.

 The UK national curriculum

British Schools in Spain follow the UK National Curriculum. The national curriculum covers a set of standards in relation to the subjects that the students must learn and the attainment targets that they should reach in each subject, both in primary and secondary schools.

The UK national curriculum is organised into blocks of years called ‘key stages’ (KS), which range from Key Stage 1 (starting at Year 1, pupils aged 5) until Key Stage 4 (finishing at year 11, students usually aged 15). At the end of each key stage there is a formal assessment of the student’s performance, such as the GCSE qualifications at the end of Secondary.

Post-16 education is also known as Key Stage 5 and covers two years of instruction and AS and A Levels qualifications, thus preparing students for university access or further education.

By following the UK national framework, British Schools in Spain ensure they are delivering a balanced and broadly-based curriculum, which promotes the development of the Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education of pupils at the school, and which prepares them for opportunities and responsibilities of life beyond school.

 British Schools with an International Breadth

Some British Schools offer international qualifications or programmes in addition to the British curriculum.

One possibility is the International GCSE qualifications (IGCSEs) which are taken at the end of Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11). These are internationally recognised and widely accepted by universities and colleges as part of their academic entry requirements.

Another option is the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) for students aged 16-19, alongside A-Levels. The IBDP is an international programme which is highly recognised and respected by the world’s leading universities due to its multidisciplinary approach which gives students a more global perspective, helping them make key decisions about their future. The IB programme prepare students for higher education at a university or college anywhere in the world.

Why Choose a British School

Many families are first attracted to a British school because an education in English can represent a passport to top international universities and enhanced career prospects. This is undoubtedly true as all children, irrespective of their national origin, become fluent English speakers.

However, as we have seen, deciding on a British Education goes far beyond a linguistic choice: it means going into a highly professional education system with high expectations both academic and of personal development.

En Best Schools in Spain contamos con más de una decena de centros educativos con curriculum Británico de gran prestigio, ubicados en ocho ciudades de la geografía española.