Off to school
Ibiza is a great place to grow up. This is just one reason why many young families opt to move to the island, but fun and games are just part of the larger picture. After all, children have to learn something on the path to adulthood. So, what does Ibiza have to offer? What choices are available to me when looking for a school for my children, whether they are starting for the first time or transferring from somewhere else? And when do I have to get my application in?
When does it all start and where does it end?
In Spain, children are obliged by law to start attending school at the age of six. However, parents have the option of sending their children to pre-school from three onwards. ‚€úAlthough there is no obligation to attend, we recommend parents send their children,‚€Ě is Antonia Ribas Tur's opinion.
|Caveat: This article appeared in Ibiza NOW magazine March 2006
The first compulsory school phase (primaria) is six years' long, starting at the age of six and, in most cases, ending when the child is 12. After this children move on to secondary schools (institutos), where they then complete the second compulsory phase of schooling, known as the ESO (Educacion Seg. Obligatoria, or secundaria), which takes a total of four years. Children are expected to choose whether to major in technology, sciences or the arts before completing their fourth year of ‚€úsecundaria‚€Ě.
Once the second phase of schooling is over, parents and children are free to decide whether to stay in full-time education for a further two years or leave school, depending on their abilities and interests. They can opt to take specialist courses to prepare them for a specific career (ciclos formativos); alternatively, they can choose to take the ‚€úbachillerato‚€Ě, an exam qualifying school leavers to attend university.
There are three main types of ‚€úbachillerato‚€Ě: 1) art and design, 2) technology and science and 3) the arts, humanity and sociology. Students usually complete the final phase of schooling at the age of 18. Those who have passed all their ‚€úbachillerato‚€Ě exams and want to go on to study at university must now register for the ‚€úselectividad‚€Ě. The courses students can take depend on the results of these exams. In the UK the equivalent to the ‚€úselectividad‚€Ě would be A levels.
What are my options?
There are state primary schools (centros publicos) and secondary schools (institutos) in every municipality on the island. In addition, there are three private schools which will be covered separately later on in this report. Furthermore, the island offers a limited number of alternative educational institutions run by the Catholic Church. These church schools (centros concertados) were once privately run, but are now recognised by the Spanish authorities as state schools and receive educational subsidies from the government.
Starting primary school: when, how and where?
To sign your child up to attend a state or church school, you will need a confirmation of registration from your local municipality, regardless of whether or not the child in question has Spanish nationality, comes from an EU country or is a citizen of a country outside the European Union.
Parents who wish to sign their child up to start school at the start of the coming academic year in September should make sure that they do not miss the registration deadline. Forms will be available from schools across the island from mid April.
Although in theory, parents are free to choose a school for their children, the authorities can only guarantee that they will be allocated a place within their local municipality. Parents who want their child to attend an institution outside their area will just have to keep their fingers crossed that there are enough places left over for non-residents to cater for their own offspring.
The allocation of places is carried out using a points system which decrees that children living in the municipality are automatically given priority, whilst also taking into account where their parents work. Their salary also plays a role in the decision making process, ensuring, for example, that more points are given to children from less well off families. The likelihood that parents will succeed in getting their child into a school in a different area is also higher if older siblings already attend that school.
Basically, parents must sign their children up for the school which they will be attending. ‚€úWe do, however, recommend that parents list several schools,‚€Ě explains Antonia Ribas Tur. Once the points have been counted, preliminary lists are displayed on school noticeboards for a few days, to enable parents to check that no mistakes have been made during the allocation process. Then, the final lists are drawn up. Parents are now required to officially confirm the place allocated to their child. If their first choice of school was not available, the child is placed on a waiting list. If a pupil from that school drops out, the child can then take his or her place.
If parents want to sign their child up to attend school once the academic year is underway, they should contact the Education Authority in the Via Punica. They will be allocated a place at a school, although it may not necessarily be in the municipality in which they are resident.
It is only possible to change schools at the end of the school year. If the family moves house, the child is entitled to stay on at his or her old school.
Languages used for teaching and language barriers:
Parents have no say in whether their children are taught in Catalan or Castilliano. ‚€úAs far as language is concerned, we try to maintain a good balance across the island,‚€Ě Antonia Ribas Tur informs us. Each school is individually responsible for its own linguistic project.
All schools offer extra lessons for foreign children with limited or no knowledge of the language. Generally speaking, foreign children participate in normal classes to help them integrate, and receive two hours a day of extra tuition with other non-native speakers to help them master the basics of the languages spoken on the island.
School subjects and religious education:
The subjects taught in Spanish schools do not vary significantly from those taught in other European countries: the youngest pupils concentrate on the three Rs, plus sports, handicrafts, music and natural history lessons.
Parents are free to decide whether or not their child should attend religious education lessons. Those who choose not to attend can do their homework under the supervision of a teacher or participate in one of the other activities on offer at their school. Over the years, pupils go on to take additional subjects, as is the norm in other EU countries.
The parents of children who attend state and church schools are not required to pay fees. Nevertheless, those who opt to send their children to a church school should expect some extra costs, to pay for a school uniform (if required), buy additional learning materials or subsidise extra-curricular activities, for example.
State schools do not provide school books free of charge and it is the responsibility of the individual municipalities to decide what subsidies or financial aid can be made available to less well off families.
Level of education:
If we take a look at the results of the internationaal PISA report, which which tested children's basic education skills (numeracy, literacy and science) in many countries throughout the world in 2001 and then again in 2003, Spain achieved average or just-below average results on both occasions.
Advice for individuals:
If you have questions about getting your child into primary school, you should contact the Education Authority in Eivissa, which provides an advisory service and provides parents with a range of documents and leaflets. Bear in mind that the services are available in Spanish only. If your language skills (Spanish and/or Catalan) are not up to scratch, we suggest that you take someone with you to translate.
Oficines d'Escolaritzacio: Eivissa, Via Punica, 23. Telephone: 971 31 01 04.
There are currently three private schools on the island: the Spanish Mestral School in Can Misses (where Catalan is offered as a minor subject only), the English Morna International College in Santa Gertrudis and the French Coll√®ge Fran√ßais in Sant Josep. The private schools are funded by a system of fees.
Although a relative newcomer to the educational scene - founded in 2001 - the Mestral School in Eivissa has set itself high standards. A strict selection process is designed to maintain excellent educational standards, based not only on the candidate's performance to date, but also on meetings with parents and their children. Applications will be accepted until September provided that the classes have not yet been filled.
The headmaster, Vicente Guimer√° Ribas, is proud to report that no pupil has ever failed to pass their final exams since the school was founded and can go on to study any of the subjects on offer at universities across Spain.
There are currently 24 teaching staff for 300 pupils. Care is taken to ensure that class sizes are kept significantly below the state school average.
In 2006, the school offered both ESO and bachillerato exams. Next year, it plans to extend its curriculum to cater for ‚€úinfantil‚€Ě classes (pre-school, from 3-6) and ‚€úprimaria‚€Ě. The language used for lessons is equally divided between Castilliano and Catalan. Pupils with insufficient language skills receive extra lessons. Three school buses provide transport to and from the island's main towns.
The matriculation fee is 385 euros. Monthly teaching fees are 385 euros per month (a school year comprising 10 months). Parents must pay for additional materials and subsidise the school bus service if their chidren use it.
Hours: Monday to Friday, 33 hours of lessons per week. Contact: 971 19 45 76.
Morna International College:
MIC was founded in 1973 - it was initially named the Morna Valley School after its original location and only recently moved to its current home in Sta. Gertrudis.
Parents can sign their children up for MIC at any time; they will only be placed on a waiting list if all classes are currently full. There are never more than 25 pupils per class. The selection process is carried out based on a meeting between the school, the parents and the child, taking into account reports from previous schools, if applicable.
At the moment, there are 240 pupils and 28 teachers at the school.
The school takes pupils of all ages, ranging from kindergarten right up to A level, the UK equivalent to the bachillerato, qualifying students for university study anywhere in the world. Lessons are in English, and pupils learn Castilliano, Catalan and German. Pupils with little to no knowledge of English are provided with intensive language courses to get their skills up to standard. Pupils attend school for 35 hours a week, from Monday to Friday.
The matriculation fee is 300 euros. Yearly fees vary from 4.429 euros for children to attend kindergarten to 9.734 euros per annum for pupils taking their A levels.
With the exception of A level students, the fees include all learning materials. Students taking their A levels will need to pay for additional materials related to their specialist subjects. However, the international A level exam fees are included in the overall fees. Exam fees must be paid separately for all other years. Contact: 971 19 76 72.
Coll√®ge Fran√ßais d'Ibiza:
This semi-private school was founded in 1975 and is subsidised by the French government. Once again, parents can register their children to attend until September, provided that there are still places available.
Classes at the school on the Ctra. San Jose contain about 20 pupils. There are 15 teachers on the staff to teach a total of 240 pupils. Students can currently attend the school up to ESO level.
The school specialises in language teaching. There are intensive courses in Castilian, Catalan and English. The standard classroom language is French, with the exception of music and sport lessons, which are in Spanish.
The school also provides language courses for children with little or no knowledge of the French language.
A school bus service provides transport to the college from Eivissa.
The matriculation fee is 125 euros and the monthly fees range from 220 euros for the Petite Section (from age 2) to 288 euros for the Secondaire (ESO). Teaching materials such as books and school dinners must be paid for separately. Hours: Monday to Friday, approx. 28 hours of lessons a week. Contact: 971 39 52 50.
(slight variations possible):
Summer: from 20th June to 20th September
Christmas: from 24th December to 7th or 8th January
Easter: the week after Maundy Thursday
The patron saint's day is a school holiday. In addition, each school has one day's holiday which is reserved for special activities. The holidays listed here are the official Spanish school holidays. Private schools can choose to have their holidays at different times.