In all towns and most Spanish villages, you will find a primary school. In smaller villages where a primary school does not exist, there will usually be some form of transport available. Most larger villages and towns will have a secondary school.
To help with the increasing population of English speaking children, many schools will provide a specialist teacher to help with integration and learning of the Spanish language. Most people moving here from England will tell you that the younger your children are, the easier they will pick up and learn the language.
To help working families, some schools may open early in the morning to enable parents to drop off their children before going on to work. This can often be as early as 07:00 and the children will be provided with a breakfast and encouraged to undertake some form of sports or leisure activities.
In Spain, it is not unusual for pupils of secondary school age to start in a year below their actual age. This is to help them learn the language and prepare them to cope with normal school work. In a few cases, pupils may be required to repeat a year if they have achieved poor end of year exam results. Normally however, this will only be recommended by the teachers if the child has made insufficient effort.
Schools in Spain work on a three term year very similar to the UK. The main difference is that Christmas and Easter breaks are shorter in favour of a longer summer holiday period. You will also find that in Spain, there is no such thing as a half term break but instead, lots of odd days and long weekends, mostly as a result of national and religious holidays.
For primary schools, the hours can vary depending on local school preferences. Typically however, the hours will be either 9.00 to 12:30 and 3.30 to 5:00 or alternatively, straight through from 9.00 to 14.00. Most primary schools however work only mornings from 09:00 until 13:00 in the summer between June and September. Secondary schools tend to be different, working from 8:15 to 2:30 all the school year.
State education in Spain is free for all pupils although parents are required to provide all of their children's books, materials and other necessary equipment. A list will be given to you at the beginning of each school year and you can expect to pay somewhere in the region of €150 (100 pounds) for each child. The good news however is that school uniform is not normally required to be worn in state schools, only in private schools.
As schooling in state schools is rather unsurprisingly conducted in Spanish, many people relocating to Spain with older children in the middle of a GSCE or A level course choose to enrol them at an International or private School.
The charges for these schools do tend to be cheaper than an equivalent school in the UK and will offer your child qualifications that are well known by the UK universities. Many will also offer a system of English and Spanish curricula enabling students to be qualified for either Spain or the UK. If private schooling is the choice for your children, you will find a good selection to choose from on both the Costa Blanca and Costa Calida.