International and Bilingual Schools in Valencia

This is a very difficult post to write for various reasons but as the question comes up so often on all social media platforms it’s an important one to know if you are planning on moving to Valencia with children. What are the schools like in Valencia? The first thing to recognise is that any move to Valencia with kids will not be successful if you are not happy with the education of them.

Why is this difficult to write?

There are various reasons but one of the main ones is that you will need to read between the lines at times or contact me for the whole story.

After over 20 years in Valencia and having had plenty of experience in both international schools and others via working in a school, the experiences of my own children, what our clients’ children did, hearing from friends who work in the schools and keep me up to date with what’s happening, and many more back channels for information, we know a lot about each school. A lot!

There are schools you should be thinking about, schools that are great for specific types of children and schools you should run a mile from before even thinking of placing your child there.

However, I need to be careful about what I write because schools are very precious about the messages that get out about them and threaten to be really litigious. Nevertheless, if I know something about a school and you ask me about it I’ll let you know. (Usually on a phone call just in case). I can give you a few clues to find out more about each school though.

Types of School

You should be aware that there are many types of school: private international schools, private Spanish education, Montessori schools, private bilingual schools, Spanish state schools and Concertado schools along with a handful of “special” schools. You have plenty of “theoretical” choice. Nevertheless, you should also be aware that many schools are full and there are no places available, especially at early years levels in the international system.

As a rule of thumb, the older your child the more you need to make sure there is as little disruption as possible to your child’s education meaning you should be sending them to an international school doing the same curriculum, or as close as possible, to what they are currently studying. This is because your child will generally take a year or so to settle in and understand Spanish to a decent level for studying in that language.

If you send a 14 year old into a Spanish learning environment then you are probably condemning them to a wasted year and, in Spanish schools, if they don’t pass then they repeat the year meaning they have to make a new group of friends from those they met in their first year and they will be extremely demotivated.

Bear in mind that over 90% of children in international schools in and around Valencia are Spanish so as your children settle into any of the international schools they will have Spanish friends and the “Language of the playground” is Spanish in general so they will still learn Spanish. This process has slowed somewhat recently during Covid19 times though because social meetups outside school are frowned upon or prohibited meaning that they are not as immersed as they would have been previously.

Prices of Schools in Valencia

People from certain countries looking at the pricing of schools in Valencia they will think “Wow, that’s cheap!”. Others will think them a bit steep for their personal ability to pay. However private education in Spain is comparatively affordable.

Prices at international schools are largely similar ranging from pre-school at around 5700 euros per year up to 8500 euros for 17-18 year olds. There are major differences in bilingual schools deending on whether they are fully private or “Concertado” semi-private. Prices range from 3500 Euros up to 15000 Euros exceptionally in the Ausias March school at primary level.

Compare this with private schools in the UK where the average price is 16,000 Euros per year and obviously boarding schools and schools with a “name” are considerably more expensive. With each school we have linked to their prices.

Schooling and Properties

First you decide on the school then you decide on the area, then you decide on the property.

If you are determined to put your child in a school in Puzol then you don’t want to be looking at properties in Chiva, however nice the property.

Why?

If there is no school bus it will take you around 45 minutes to get to Puzol every morning, if you avoid traffic snarl ups, and about 40 minutes to get back, rush hour traffic compared with the return where there is less traffic. You will then have to repeat this in the afternoon meaning around three hours in your car every day. Now unless the school run is when you bond with your child over a shared love of One Direction, or perhaps because of this fact, the journey will quickly become tiresome.

You shouldn’t really be more than twenty minutes away from the school if you are going to taxi your children yourself. Therefore, as we say above, you choose the school first, the area and property follow.

Buses and Times

Are you going to send your child to school on the school bus or are you going to be a taxi? If you are going to send them on the school buses, usually to international schools, you need to make sure that your property is on one of the school bus routes. However bear in mind that if your property is near the start of the route, it may be that your child’s journey every morning can even be over an hour to get to school and to get home.

Covid19, mentioned below of course, has meant that fewer students are now going to school on the buses and car sharing has also been reduced meaning more traffic for your journey.

Covid19 and Schools

Some schools have coped admirably with Covid and others have made a pig’s ear of it. The better reactions tend to have been with schools where the managers manage and the teachers teach (I know, it’s a mad idea).

Children are separated into bubbles in most schools currently. Classes have been split into two so that if there is one case of Covid in a bubble then only half of the class are required to stay off school and home school until they have had a confirmed negative test. If children are required to study at home then schools have set up systems of posting the work online and the teachers are making sure the children keep up.

During the first lockdown many schools discounted prices somewhat for parents, you can see a table taken below for examples of the discounts given.

This came from a Change.org petition from parents at the American School who were annoyed at initially paying full quotas during the first lockdown despite the fact that the school was not having to supply buses, lunch or using electric etc… and that some had furloughed non teaching staff and other staff members.

Having said all of that today we are going to look at international schools and bilingual schools which are the types of school that most of our clients are interested in for their children. Let’s look at these schools in turn and what you can expect and then a quick mention of other types of school.

Private International Schools

There are plenty of options for private international schools in Valencia. However, your options may be restricted by lack of spaces available, type of education you want, location and reputation.

We used to have a list of schools in order from best to worst. Now it is a more nebulous situation so let’s do it in alphabetical order. If you do not want to read between the lines just do a search in Google/Facebook etc for “such and such a school reviews” and you will find out all you need to know. If you understand Spanish change “Reviews” for “Reseñas” and you will see some excellent rants.

American School of Valencia

I once got into a heated argument with the Head of the American School at the time for telling somebody about their history of sacking teachers, employing non qualified staff and more. He only admitted he was wrong when he left six months later. This was over a decade ago.

Since those days the American School has improved markedly. They now have quite a stable staff and their employment practices have got better. The teachers are happy to work there due to good conditions and continual professional development support. If the teachers are happy it is usually a good sign. It offers the International Baccalaureate and Spanish University entrance exams.

It’s in Puzol on the Monasterios estate which is a private gated estate. As we have said many times before Puzol is not our favourite town around here to live but it’s easy to get to from the North of Valencia and places such as Rocafort, Godella and even La Cañada and they have extensive bus routes for their students.

If you search for reviews you will find the usual mixture with some excellent and others scathing and there are plenty of other places you can find reviews if you look. (Google reviews are your friend). Fees can be found here. Remember that extras such as the bus services, meals, books, and registering initially are also paid for so the basic price is not the only cost in most schools.

British School of Alzira

The British School of Alzira as the name suggests is situated in Alzira to the South West of Valencia and quite a long way to the South West. It is part of the British Schools group with other schools in Gandia and Xativa. If you are based in Valencia then your child will ned to get up early to get the bus as the first pick ups are around 8.15 and the last return at 6.10pm. This can mean a long day for the student.

The location of the school, despite being distant from the city is lovely and the buildings are excellent. Nevertheless you don’t need to go far to find reviews suggesting that everything is a “facade” and the reality of study there is not as good as it is painted.

The fee structure (or Fare structure as they call it as if it were a bus which when you think about it is quite apt considering how long the kids will be on the bus for) can be found here.

British School of La Cañada

One of the newer schools in the area and so far it has a good reputation among both staff and parents in general. It offers the UK curriculum and is well positioned in La Cañada so it’s near to La Eliana, San Antonio, Betera, Rocafort and Godella and not too far from Valencia city.

It isn’t really old enough to have a good academic reputation as they haven’t taken children through from 3-18 years old yet. However most parents seem to be happy with the educational project.

The facilities are quite good but some parents have commented that as the school grows year on year there is not really enough space for the children.

The fees schedule can be found here.

British School of Valencia

The BSV was taken over last year by Cognita, a large international group of schools and has improved as a result. I know of parents who were really worried by the takeover and were initially pleasantly surprised. You can see this in their online reviews which have improved a lot in the last year.

The main problem that the school has is that it is situated in Ruzafa in the city and the facilities, especially for sports and the arts are not great because of a lack of space. However if you are living in the city then it is a great place for your children to walk to and come home earlier rather than having to get the bus back in, Ruzafa being one of the more popular areas to live in.

They reacted excellently to the Covid19 situation supporting both children and teachers well under the new management structure and their reputation is growing. However, I have heard recently on the grapevine that quite a lot of children have left and the common factors seem to be children being shouted at and the cliquish nature of the children who have been there since their early years towards new arrivals. Saying that I talked with other parents who say that their children have settled in really well and made lots of new friends very quickly so… The shouting thing would surprise me as the head of the school is a wonderful guy.

Fees can be found here but be careful here, the initial admission fee is huge at almost two and a half grand!

Cambridge House

Cambridge House for a long time was generally considered to be the best British school in Valencia for its family atmosphere, friendliness and more. Unfortunately as the school has more than doubled in size, some people think it has lost its family feel.

Social media activity suggests Covid19 was handled badly with lots of online complaints and petitions by the parents as was the case of many international and other fee paying schools (See above for the ASV case). However most parents seem happier with provision since returning to school in the Autumn.

Staff turnover is now higher than it used to be but pupil numbers at the school keep growing. Some parents have complained about a lack of investment in the school in resources and especially I.T. in the last few years.

Results continue to be impressive and each year there is a stream of children getting into Spanish and international universities after finishing at Cambridge. They also offer HNDs for children who are more practically minded as an option over “A levels” and they run the English teacher training programme in Spain for a UK university meaning they get a good selection of the best teachers coming in too.

Cambridge House was the first British school in Spain to get a full and complementary Ofsted report however it has not had one for a few years now.

The fee schedule can be found here. They have discounts for siblings too.

*Have to declare an interest here as my wife works there and one of my children studies there. My eldest went onto University in the UK after finishing at Cambridge but my middle child is no longer there.

Caxton College

Traditionally Caxton College has been the School of choice for the Valencian upper class in terms of international schools. Many of the now disgraced PP ruling party of the Valencia government sent their kids there and their acolytes wanted to get close to them through the kids. That period is now mostly over. They also had a reputation for throwing kids on the scrapheap and inviting them to leave the school in the year before exams so as not to lower the academic standards. I believe this practice no longer exists.

For years Caxton had a major problem of staff retention especially at the secondary level. They got through more IT teachers than Spinal Tap got through drummers. However the staff is much more stable now and it has been that way for a number of years even at secondary level.

The school used to have a reputation of looking at parents as cashpoint machines and little else and teachers as expendable. The interviews for admission were less child focussed and more looking on what jobs and background the parents had. Again this has now largely disappeared.

The facilities at the school are excellent with large sports fields, new buildings and they are well kitted out. The school has a good image and there are 1700 students. If your child is quiet they may get overlooked in such a large school but apart from that the school is on an excellent course at the moment and their response to Covid19 at both a staff and parent level has been exemplary.

Fees for primary can be found here and secondary here.

El Plantio IB

If you haven’t heard of the owner then you might think El Plantio is an excellent school especially reading the reviews in Google in Spanish which “people weren’t forced to write I am sure” (he said through gritted teeth). However, I invite you to see these reviews

The headmaster is excellent but the staff turnover is fluent unlike the staff which is becoming more and more Spanish with lower levels of English reported online due to the school’s difficulties in attracting native English speaking staff due to the reputation of the aforementioned owner on teacher chat rooms all over the internet.

The location of the school in La Cañada is good but there are huge electricity cables and pylons going up the road next to the school which put many off. If that doesn’t then the school canteen should and if that doesn’t then the uniform definitely will. Lots of major negatives there.

If you insist on your child doing the IB then El Plantio is an option but remember that so is the American School and Ausias March and the Colegio Internacional Levante…

Fees can be found here.

German School of Valencia

This is a great school if…. What is that if?

If your child is perfect in every sense and doesn’t cause a problem, a high achiever with excellent marks throughout their schooling then maybe think about the German school. If your child has any issues, behavioural or educationally then the management will not hesitate to eject the child from the school immediately. They don’t want their results downgraded by the odd low achieving child. We even know of one case where they threw out a two year old for behavioural issues.

The fees for the school can be found here.

Liceo Frances

If your first language is French or you want your child to be taught in a more Francophile style then the Liceo Frances in Paterna might be an option. Surprisingly, being French, the food offering for lunch gets massive criticism! Apart from that this is one of the schools I don’t know too much about as none of our clients have ever sent their child there and I don’t speak French unfortunately.

You can find the fee structure here. As it is subsidised by the French state it is slightly cheaper.

Los Olivos

Los Olivos is a smaller school in the Godella area which is slightly different to the other British schools in that it is a teachers’ cooperative. This means of course that the turnover of staff is very low and therefore the children can get to know the staff from a very early age. It is split on two sites within Campolivar now with primary on one site and secondary on another but they are separated by only a couple of hundred metres or so.

Looking at the online reviews you will see that there are very few bad ones and the children who review it always say what an excellent atmosphere there was and that they were happy with their school, the most important thing. Your main problem with Los Olivos will be getting spaces when you have more than one child.

You can see their fee structure here.

The New Kids on the Block

Shackleton British School will open in Burjassot for the 2021-22 school year and Home School International is growing year on year after starting as a nursery a few years back, however it is more of a Bilingual Private school rather than an international school.

Private Bilingual Schools

A lot of schools claim to be bilingual schools where a percentage of the curriculum is given in Spanish and the rest in English. Each school has a different amount of classes given in English and different levels are attained by the students as a result. I know less about some of these schools than the international schools so have only written about those I know enough about

Mas Camarena School

Well positioned by the technology park just off the CV35, Mas Camarena school has a decent online reputation because they have had a decent community and social media manager for many years.

Mas Camarena school has been a staple of Valencian society for many years and the school pays a lot to be featured each year in El Mundo’s list of the 100 best schools in Spain. (I would suggest that ALL of the schools appearing on that list pay to be there either directly or because they advertise in El Mundo, that is a fact so don’t take any notice of the list) Best not to check out the Google reviews if you speak Spanish (Whistles nonchalantly and walks off into the distance).

Fees are hidden well but they start at just over 8000 Euros per year, comparatively expensive!

Colegio de Levante SEK

Since 2018 Colegio Internacional Levante has become an option for those parents wanting their children to study the IB. Although principally Spanish in nature the school has become more bilingual over the years and has a good reputation.

Unusually for the schools around Valencia it is set just outside Torrente in Calicanto to the west rather than the north and northwest like all of the international schools. Therefore if you decide to send your child to this school you may want to look at property in and around Torrent, Chiva and Picassent rather than the usual places such as La Eliana etc… It is a similar distance from the city of Valencia though and also offers a school bus service.

Another school that hides their tariffs and another that pays to feature in El Mundo’s ranking of schools but anecdotally it is not because they are eye wateringly expensive.

IALE

It’s not as bad as Entrenaranjos, but just don’t. The facilities are excellent so you walk in and are immediately impressed but it soon goes downhill. All of our clients over 20 years who have placed their children in this school have taken them out, mostly after just a single year and that is a relatively large sample size. I think one family lasted for three years there which must be the record.

Apparently all secondary classes are given in Spanish so it’s not really a bilingual school as such. If you are interested fees are here.

Gencana

Set on the Campolivar estate in Godella, Gencana is well situated among a gaggle of other private and semi private schools. We have had plenty of families who sent their kids to Gencana due to their promises of support on arrival for children with English as a first language. All have now left. One parent said it was because the parents of the children in the school were very “Valencian”! Make of that what you will but if you ask me I’ll tell you what that means.

Another school with hidden tariffs but cheaper than many other options for the basic education level.

Entrenaranjos School

Entrenaranjos is a private school that has been applying for years to become a “Concertado” in order to get government support. (It was hit badly by the financial crisis of 2008 onwards and if schools are sustainable with so few students then they are running a very tight ship or the owners of all the other private schools would spend their time at home swimming in cash like Scrooge McDuck which is also a possibility)

Small class sizes is the great advantage here and they seem to be getting smaller every year so if you want individual tuition for your child your luck may well be in within a few years. One positive is that it is the cheapest of all of the schools listed. Again, make of that what you will with small class sizes.

Now some people online have disagreed vehemently with my review of Entrenaranjos school and, as I said to them, that is good because it means the bad experiences I know of (and have experience of) are not universal. It’s good to know.

Colegio Internacional Ausias March

Another school in the southern part of inland Valencia near to Picassent, the Ausias March school gives priority to languages and teaches almost half of the curriculum in English at both primary and secondary level. Again if you are thinking of this school then your priority on housing should be in the areas of Picassent, Torrent and even Monserrat and Montroy.

The school offers the international IB certificate and aspires to be an IB world school. It is going in the right direction. However bear in mind that the school is extremely expensive at primary level with the price being double that of secondary. At primary it compares with the international schools.

Find the fees here although those detailed here show the considerably more expensive early years fees.

Julio Verne School

Set on the edge of Torrent South West of Valencia to the near the El Drac school, the Julio Verne school has an excellent reputation. Unfortunately it hasn’t got an excellent website, in English it sucks as if it were written by Yoda from Star Wars, “Twenty Nationalities Students”

You will struggle to find bad reviews of Julio Verne school which either suggests people are happy or that they have a crack team of SEO and reputation management geeks in place. Judging by their website they haven’t got that so it’s probably OK to say that the reviews are genuine.

Fees are hidden but they mostly correspond with other schools according to parents I know.

Spanish State Schools

Just like in every other country in the World Spanish state schools are a mixed bunch, some are excellent, some have problems and some are terrible. Often this depends on where you are living and remember just like in the UK you apply to the local schools which are obliged to find a place for you if you live in the local area. This often means that the better schools are oversubscribed with large class sizes.

Spanish education continues to be largely done by rote learning unlike the type of learning practiced in the more international schools. There have been many educational plans from central and regional government over the years to change this to even more rote learning or less according to the colours of the political party in charge so teachers are constantly having to look at how they interpret the latest missives from the ministry.

Remember that here in Valencia schools teach in either Spanish or Valencian. If you want your child to study in Spanish rather than adding an extra language into their extra work then make sure the school in a Spanish language one. If your local school only runs a Valencian stream you can apply for the nearest school that runs the Spanish stream.

As is the case in other countries the usual rule of thumb unfortunately is that the better the area the better the school. There are exceptions but don’t be scared to place especially young children in the Spanish system. They generally thrive.

Conclusion

The education of your child can make or break your life in Spain so knowing the ins and outs of all of the schools is important. There is so much more we could have written about each school, good and bad. If you need more information and opinion about schools feel free to contact us and ask.

We expect to get a lot of pushback on this post from individual schools and some parents who have bought into those schools but guess what… I don’t really care. People can find out the truth if they know where to look. If this post helps just one family make the right decision for their child then it will have been worth it. I expect it to help many families.

Some people will disagree with what we have written and been told here but usually that is because it is not their personal experience whether that is as a parent or an educational institution that disagrees with what people are saying about them. We are happy to take more submissions to be included in this post both good and bad. Just contact us to chat.

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