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Registering for School - Part 1

By Jo Green - Thu 1st Apr 2010

Over here in Spain children are able to start school as early as three years old. Well it’s not ‘proper school’, but it is actually called ‘pre-school’ and this is usually for 3 – 6 year olds and leads nicely into primary school.

So given that our daughter will be three in June, and that the school year starts for 3 years olds in September it is something that we naturally have to think about. On one hand it seems a very young age, but on the other she has made friends in her 2.1/2 years at Nursery and seems flexible and adaptable enough to make the step and move along to pre-school with her friends.

Our Finca is situated in the Campo, halfway between a Village and a slightly larger Town. Officially, we are resident in the village, however our buzon de correos, bank and all the bars and shops are located in the town and so naturally we feel more a part of the community in the town as opposed to the village. Add in the fact that the village is practically pedestrianised and without any parking closeby, and that my daughter already attends nursery with her friends in the Town, and I’m sure you can appreciate why we would like her to attend the pre-school in the town rather than the village.

The reason that she does not attend nursery in the village is simply because there isn’t one – and as far as I know there is only maybe 2 or 3 children her age, and certainly no more than about 50 in the school as a whole, covering the ages of 3 to 11.

Due to the small numbers the pre-school and primary school are combined in the village, and in many cases classes are made up of 2 class years together. Whilst we don’t feel too strongly about this being a major issue, we would prefer that she attended a school that made separate provision for each class year, along with the friends that she has already made, and in a school that was dedicated to ‘pre-school’ children.

Would this be a problem? – Especially given that our Padron clearly stated that we were resident in the next village?

The staff at the nursery, the locals, and even the Pre-school in the Town itself said no, it would not be a problem at all. It even seems like they want our ‘business’ as the more children they have, the more funding they can apply for – and in any case the number of children of that particular age registered on the pardon was pretty low for that year.

The ‘problem’, we believe, comes in 3 parts :

1.) Each school is largely autonomous and has a set period every year when parents attend the school to register their child for the coming school year – due to start in September. Our first choice (the Town) has their registration week in May, whilst our second choice (the Village) has theirs week 1 of April.

Therefore, if for any reason we are unable to register for the Town, we have missed the registration for the Village and have to wait a further year before registering.

2.) Apparently the Village, feeling their nose pushed out of joint, can cause a fuss and in some cases insist that the child is taken out of school and made to attend the school where they reside. Again, this is basically down to them wanting the funding from the regional Government allocated to her place.

3.) We do not have a ‘Libretto de Familia’ – some schools request this on registering, however when we registered the birth of our daughter at the Ayuntamiento (in the village) we were told that we were not eligible to have one because we were not married (Gasp!) – We have since been told that this is not the case and just that the Ayuntamiento were just being lazy. As we DO have her Residencia, NIE Number, Spanish Birth Certificate and Full medical records, we are hoping that this will suffice.

Although our Spanish is passable enough, and we are confident to attempt this procedure on our own, there is no margin for error here and we have asked a Spanish friend (who is also training to be a teacher) to help us out – just incase there is some tiny, but crucial point that we have overlooked or misunderstood.

Click here to read Registering for School – Part 2.

Comment on this Blog

Yes, I agree. My major issue is that a split day of 9-1 and then 3-5 is quite long for a 3 year old. It also makes it almost impossible for expats without family in Spain to have both partners working.
Jo Green - Tue, 23rd Nov 2010
Hi Jo, Have to say that I'm very pleased with the level of education that my daughter gets at school. She can write simple words already and recognise letters. Also they get English classes once a week. I find this very good as I have friends whose kids go to private school and don't have English until P4. The class sizes are resonable, there are 21 in her class, but I've only ever seen 15. Also there are two teachers in the class which I think is a great idea. The only snipe I could have is the timetable, but as there are no plans to change the entire educational timetable, I'll have to put up with it!! Did you finally get your daughter in the town school? Have to say that I think it's a good idea that the children start school at 3, gives them a good start and they pick up good habits. Hope this continues. interesting blogs by the way.
Caroline - Tue, 23rd Nov 2010
Hi Caroline, I was just wondering what your expereinces and thoughts on the Spanish Educational system was so far? - I must say I'm pretty impressed to date!
Jo Green - Mon, 22nd Nov 2010
I've lived here in Spain for almost 11 years now and my daughter will be 3 in Nov, like yours she starts school in september. You should have been sent a booklet with a list of schools and opendays. You then choose five schools where you wish to send your daugher, if all goes well, you'll get your first choice, if that chool is full you'll be givebn a school, hopefully on your list. As for the 'libro de famillia' is doesn't matter if you're married or not (I'm not) all you have to do is go to the courthouse and register the birth, you'll need your NIE and a copy of the letter they gave you in the hospital when your daughter was born. If you have any questions just go down and ask them. Once you have the 'libro de famillia' just go to the nearest 'policia local' and they'll give your daughter a Spanish passport. My daughter only has a Spanish one as it's easier to get a Spanish one than a British one ( a trip into Barcelona and much more expensive!!) hope this helps.
Caroline - Sat, 5th Jun 2010
The simple answer to that probobaly comes in 3 parts : 1) Because when we registered the birth we were uncertain exactly how long we would be staying in Spain for. 2) We have never encountered an issue where NOT having a DNI or Spanish passport would be problem 3) Our experience in all things concerning Burocracy in Spain is that nothing is quick or easy to do. - So we haven't. - Maybe we will do in future when we have the time and paticence, or if it becomes an issue.
Jo Green - Thu, 20th May 2010
Why does your daughter have residence and nie ? - she is eligible to have a Spanish passport and DNI as well as.
Julia - Thu, 20th May 2010

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