For many parents, a bilingual school in Madrid is a very attractive educational option. If implemented correctly, it’s a fantastic way for children to become proficient in two of the most spoken languages in the world; Spanish and English.
The boom in public bilingual schools all over Spain has been remarkable. In the 2010-2011 period, 240,154 students were studying in a bilingual programme in one of Spain’s regions (except Catalonia, which does not provide data). In the 2016-2017 period, that figure had jumped 360% to 1.1 million, according to an El País study of data from the Education Ministry. Some 95% of Spanish students at bilingual schools have chosen to be taught in English.
This boom is mirrored in Madrid and families can choose a bilingual school either through the public or private education system. First let’s examine the bilingual programme offered at public and concertado schools in both primary and secondary education across Madrid.
The bilingual programme in public and concertado schools in Madrid:
- 2004/2005 – Launched in 26 public primary schools (1º Primaria).
- 2008/2009 – Launched in concertado schools in 2008/2009.
- 2010/2011 – Extended to public secondary schools (1º ESO).
- 2014/2015 – Extended to 1º of Bachillerato.
- 2016/2017 – The first students who completed their entire compulsory education in the Bilingual Programme did the PAU university entrance exam in 2016.
- 2017/2018 – Entended to 2º Ciclo Infantil (3-6 years).
In this table we can see the increase in number of bilingual schools in primary education in Madrid. It is now estimated that the number of bilingual primary schools represent almost 50% of all schools in primary education across Madrid.
The next chart clearly shows the steady growth of students attending public and concertado bilingual schools throughout the region.
Bilingual education in infants:
Bilingual education was introduced in infant education in 2017/2018 and is as follows:
- 1º curso infantil (infants) – 3 years old: at least 3 weekly sessions of 45 minutes.
- 2º curso infantil (infants) – 4 years old: at least 4 weekly sessions of 45 minutes.
- 3º curso infantil (infants) – 5 years old: at least 5 weekly sessions of 45 minutes.
Bilingual education in public and concertado school in primary education:
To be classified as a bilingual public / concertado school in Madrid in primary education, at least 30% of teaching hours must be in English.
This is a combination of English as Second Language and usually two of the following subjects; Art / P.E / or Social Science. There is a lot of controversy regarding science classes, as many people believe that it’s a very important class and it should be taught in Spanish.
English teachers in public and concertado schools are not usually native speakers but generally have a very high level of English. There will be a language assistant with them in the classroom and whilst these are native speakers they are not qualified teachers. The language assistant may not be with the class for all English lessons.
In both pubic and concertado Schools the class tutor is almost always Spanish and may not speak English. All school communication will be in Spanish.
Bilingual educaton in public and concertado in secondary education
In secondary education there are two different options for a bilingual education:
- Bilingual section:
This route is for students that have studied at a bilingual primary school and their level of English is sufficiently high to ensure that they can keep up with the rhythm of more advanced curriculum. All student must pass an exam to qualify for entry to bilingual section.
Breakdown of bilingual section:
- Contents deal with the language and literature of Anglo-Saxon countries.
- English is taught five days a week, once a day.
- This subject, together with the subjects taught in English, will account for at least one third of the weekly school hours.
Subjects taught in English:
- 1st and 3rd year of Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO):
Biology and Geology and Geography and History are taught in English.
- 2nd and 4th year of Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO):
Geography and History are taught in English
- 4th year of Compulsory Secondary Education, the centres will ensure the teaching of another subject in English.
- The tutoring hour is also taught in English in the four Compulsory Secondary Education courses.
The only subjects that cannot be taught in English are: Mathematics, Spanish Language and Literature, Latin, Second Foreign Language, Language Recovery, Mathematics Recovery and Mathematics Extension: Problem Solving.
- Bilingual programme:
- Students also receive five hours a week of English Language.
- At least one subject from the following must be taught in English: Physical Education, Visual and Plastic Education, Music, Technology, Ethical Values or other subjects specific optional or free autonomous configuration.
In this table we can see the increase in number of bilingual schools in secondary education in Madrid. It is now estimated that the number of bilingual secondary schools represent just over 50% of all schools in secondary education across the region.
Bilingual Private Schools in Madrid:
- Teaching hours are usually split 50/50 (Spanish/English).
- Fee paying schools (although not usually as expensive as international schools).
- Teachers will most likely be native speakers.
- They usually follow Spanish curriculum although not always.
- Class size may be smaller than public schools but it is not always the case.
- Some may be religious.
International Schools in Madrid:
- English is the most common language of instruction in Madrid’s international schools.
- Spanish often rules in hallways and playgrounds due to the large numbers of local students.
- Fees are usually very high and most not include bus routes, lunch or extracurricular activities.
- Schools usually follow either the British, American or IB curriculum.
- Although one or two may be in Central Madrid most are in the suburbs where space allows for much better sports facilities.
- All schools provide their own private bus route.
If you are interested in learning more about a bilingual school in Madrid for your child and are unsure what might be most suitable, please do get in touch. We will give you our honest and unbiased opinion and together we will secure the right bilingual (or non-bilingual) school for your child.
Sinéad Galvin is an educational consultant and founded Steps into Spain (a boutique educational and relocation consultancy located in Madrid) to help families find the right school for their child in Madrid. She uses her professional and personal experience of Spanish schools, the Spanish education system and the Spanish way of life to ensure that parents are knowledgeable and informed about what to expect and can secure the best school for their child.
Steps into Spain will take stock of your children’s educational needs and overall family requirements (housing, paperwork and general settling in). Our trusted and expert service is provided to families who are moving to Madrid from abroad. And also, to families that already live here and need some extra guidance and support.