Today I revisited a school I had been to last year. Visiting schools is an important part of what I do. It’s something that I enjoy and is vital for ensuring that I have an up-to-date and thorough knowledge of the schools that I suggest to my clients.
I try to see each school with a fresh pair of eyes and ask questions that help me distinguish one school from the other. On top of this I ask myself questions such as ‘What does what I’m seeing tell me about the culture of the school? How do the students relate to their teachers and to each other?How engaged are the students?’
Having worked in many different schools I feel I offer a unique insight into the way schools work and to the clues that they can give you when you visit them.
I love visiting schools!
Do you know about the Dual Diploma? You may not know this but over 50 schools in Barcelona offer the possibility of gaining the American High School Diploma in addition to the Spanish Bachillerato. These are schools that follow the Spanish curriculum during ESO but, in addition to this, facilitate the completion of the American High School Diploma on top of their usual curriculum studies.
How is this possible? Due to the nature of the US educational system, credits are given for subjects like maths and science that are already studied as part of their usual bachillerato qualification. This means that certain subjects can be carried over to the American Diploma, and therefore need only be studied once. However, in addition to these subjects, students must also complete extra modules from the American curriculum. Obligatory subjects include English, English and Life Management Skills, US History plus US Government and Economics (all studied in English). In addition to these core subjects, they also need to also choose two electives from a list of possibilities.
Although schools offering the Dual Diploma facilitate access to the programme, students are responsible for completing these extra studies outside of the usual school day. Access to the curriculum is gained through online materials and support from the organization in the U.S. that runs the programme, rather than the school itself. Students therefore need to be motivated, computer-savvy and of course, have an adequate level of English to access the materials.
The dates for pre-enrolling for a place at a public school or concertado for the next academic year have been released!
After the Christmas break, schools will start to plan and advertise dates for their Open Days so that families can get to know the schools better.
As with previous years, there will be a period of just over a week in which to complete enrollments (called preincripció). This is the stage in which families officially specify which schools, in priority order, they wish to apply to.
This year the period runs from Monday 23rd of March until Wednesday April 1st and the enrollment period - the period when families accept places at the schools they have been assigned - will be between the 16th – 22nd June for pupils between 0 -12 years old and from 29th June- 3rd July for students entering ESO, or secondary education.
If you need support in how to get to know the schools in your catchment area or any questions related to applying for schools in Barcelona, get in touch!
I was, like many other people before me, brought to Barcelona for work. My husband was offered a job that he liked and we were looking for a change from our lives in England. Since we both stemmed from different countries and cultures already, it didn´t seem a big deal to add another culture and language to the mix. Also, my son was just about to turn 1 and, as I was in no hurry to return to work as a teacher in a dynamic but ultimately intense inner-city primary school, I agreed to the somewhat drastic move, thinking that it would be an adventure.
My first years in Barcelona were spent in a hazy baby-filled bubble, with a second child added to our family within the first year of arriving. I felt very fortunate that by some random chance, I came across a lovely Catalan / English nursery, which brought with it a wealth of new friends and enabled our family to lay down some kind of roots in our adopted home.
Then the moment came that we had to start thinking about sending our first-born to school. I dutifully went to a number of Open Days for our local public schools and concertadas and realized, quite quickly, how important it was to have a pretty good grasp of Catalan, something, that at that point, I did not have. As a result, rather than having to rely on what directors and teachers were saying about their respective schools and educational projects, I would have to find other clues to how suitable the school was for my son. My teaching experience gave me an insight not afforded to the average family looking for a school and I utilized this to focus in on my family´s priorities. When I could communicate with directors or had a friend along to help translate, it was soon clear that the priorities of the school were not necesarily in line with mine. Also, more importantly, what the schools claimed to offering was not always what was actually going on in the classroom.
I knew, based on knowing my son pretty well by this point, that there were specific things that I was looking for in a school. These, of course, were not always what other friends and acquaintances were looking for for their children and this made me feel that I was perhaps expecting too much. I also soon realized that being a foreigner and being out of my home environment freed me from certain long-held ideas of what primary education should look like. Through my extensive research I discovered that Barcelona offered a wealth of different types of schools and educational projects, something that I found eye-opening, liberating and terrifying all at the same time.
I found that schools focused on different things to the schools I had worked in, for example the importance of socializing the child and the longer school day. The importance of the mid-day meal still amuses me today - I have yet to come across a school that doesn´t make a visit of the kitchen as part of the guided tour – this would NEVER happen in England!
Instead of feeling alienated and helpless in the search for a school, however, it paradoxically taught me a lot about the city I was now calling home and the people in it. It enabled me to really focus in on what was most important to our family without being held back by the self-imposed constraints of my own cultural norms. Now, many years on from that decision-making process, I can honestly say the research I did and the process we went through, gave us the roots that keep us in Barcelona. I helped us find the school we were looking for. Not the perfect school for everyone, but the perfect school for us.