We get asked a lot of questions about schools and the system of education in Spain. A lot these questions are answered in our in Spain mini guides. Being based in the Costa del Sol, we also often get asked by people moving to or planning to move to the area, about International Schools in Costa del Sol, so we’ve created a list of those that we know.
‘Semana Blanca’ and ‘dia de Andalucia’ (white week and Andalusia day), are a school holiday week in Málaga and a regional holiday in Andalucia.
During ‘Semana Blanca’ the majority of the schools are closed for a week to ‘catch up’ with the number of the number of school days off for public holidays, compared to the rest of Spain.
Every province or region in Spain has their own traditions and festivities for which schools are closed. Some places have a few less public holidays than others, so to be fair to students in Málaga, they give extra time off in ‘la Semana Blanca’ to balance things out.
Why is it called Semana Blanca?
Education in Spain is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16. The school year dates (set annually), usually run from the middle of September until the middle of June. There are 3 terms of roughly 11 weeks each.
Spain has among the longest school holidays of anywhere in Europe. Half terms do not really exist, though compensation is in the numerous local festival days and non-teaching days that give children and teachers more breaks in the school year.
There are usually 2 weeks of holiday over Christmas, 2 weeks over Easter and a long summer holiday of around 11–12 weeks. There is plenty of debate as to whether this break is too long and that children forget what they have learned, whilst working parents may be forced into paying for child care support for their children.
The timetable at public schools is usually 7 hours a day, Monday-Friday, but varies slightly depending on the school, the region and the age of the children. Starting times in the morning vary. Primary schools usually begin at 9 am but in Secondary the norm is 8 am. This works well in the summer, as it is cooler and light but in the Winter, children are often going to school in the dark.
It is compulsory to learn Castilian Spanish at all schools, even where Spanish is not the main language. In regions with other languages, it is also compulsory to learn the co-official language – for example, Catalan in Catalonia. In addition, children must learn a foreign language, which in many cases is English.
Spanish public schooling is free for children from 3 to 18 years and there are also various private schooling options in Spain.