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Are there any good schools in Spain

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by 4davellan, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. After working here for 7 years now I am fed up and looking to move to greener pastures. Before I pick up my family and leave I wanted to see if there are any good schools out here in Spain.

    I am looking for a school with good facilities, high academic standards and a solid sense of community. A place where children are offered the chance to participate in regular competitive sport, music lessons and drama productions in school.

    Happy staff who are valued and offered opportunities for personal and professional staff development. The salary doesn't really matter as I know the pay out here is substantially less than the UK, but it would be nice if all members of staff were paid fairly according to experience and responsibilities.

    A strong head who is able to share a vision for the future that is clear cut and honest. An SMT who is active, effective and supportive of staff. Owners who want to improve the school without fleecing the parents and who show a bit of respect for the professionalism of their staff. Honesty when discussing the future of the school.

    Regular pastoral care meetings to discuss the pupils and a genuine concern for their educational and personal well-being. Teachers who actively want to work in the school and who are not just waiting to retire but are motivated and enthusiastic.

    Please let me know if there are any of these schools out there. If I could I would love to stay in Spain, my girls love it out here. But at the moment I am wondering if they have actually benefitted from the life. Yes, we all love the beach, the food, the people, the mountains etc. But one can't live on that alone.

     
  2. After working here for 7 years now I am fed up and looking to move to greener pastures. Before I pick up my family and leave I wanted to see if there are any good schools out here in Spain.

    I am looking for a school with good facilities, high academic standards and a solid sense of community. A place where children are offered the chance to participate in regular competitive sport, music lessons and drama productions in school.

    Happy staff who are valued and offered opportunities for personal and professional staff development. The salary doesn't really matter as I know the pay out here is substantially less than the UK, but it would be nice if all members of staff were paid fairly according to experience and responsibilities.

    A strong head who is able to share a vision for the future that is clear cut and honest. An SMT who is active, effective and supportive of staff. Owners who want to improve the school without fleecing the parents and who show a bit of respect for the professionalism of their staff. Honesty when discussing the future of the school.

    Regular pastoral care meetings to discuss the pupils and a genuine concern for their educational and personal well-being. Teachers who actively want to work in the school and who are not just waiting to retire but are motivated and enthusiastic.

    Please let me know if there are any of these schools out there. If I could I would love to stay in Spain, my girls love it out here. But at the moment I am wondering if they have actually benefitted from the life. Yes, we all love the beach, the food, the people, the mountains etc. But one can't live on that alone.

     
  3. miketribe

    miketribe Occasional commenter

    Mine's mostly like that... But then I think you realize that you'll NEVER find a school anywhere in the world that fulfills all of your criteria.

    My school has good facilities -- all the necessary science labs for a full IB program, around 200 computers, a new performing arts block, etc.

    We have plenty of sports teams that compete in the local Spanish leagues and in the International Schools Sports Association tournaments.

    We have regular elementary, middle and high school drama productions, including an annual musical.

    There's a quite generous provision for professional development -- I'm going to New Mexico on a course this summer, all paid -- and most of the staff are keen, hard-working and well-qualified (I defy you to find a school where it's 100%!).

    We have elementary, middle and high school counselors, and there are monthly meetings in each school to discuss any student who's having problems or who has been singled out for special "tracking". Between meetings, there may be other ad hoc meetings with students, teachers and parents, and we regularly keep in contact via email about these students.

    The school is a not-for-profit organization headed by a self-appointed, self-perpetuating board. The head and SMT wouldn't meet all your criteria -- again, I've rarely run into one which would in the past 35 years -- but we have an active comite de empresa which keeps them all honest!

    Unfortunately, we're a LONG way from the beach. In Madrid. And most of the teachers have unfortunate American accents...
     
  4. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    A friend and former colleague, ex Berne and Stuttgart, who is now Director of another Madrid school gets a good press on International Schools Review from teachers who've worked with him. He wouldn't claim that either he or his school are perfect but I know he comes close to the OP's criteria. Sadly, no beach but not much b1tch either.
     
  5. I believe the only international school in Cádiz province on the coast is a good one but they have already recruited for next year. Maybe worth getting in touch though.
     
  6. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Occasional commenter

    Just a thought.

    How many UK (either in the correct sense or in the mistaken sense regularly seen on these threads) schools would the OP say met his criteria?

    Using the wrong definition of UK above, my suggestion would be <0.5% of English schools fit the bill....and falling every month at that.


    Time to get ready either for early -retirement or for a very hard landing indeed in Blighty, methinks.
     
  7. 4dave:

    Before you get excited about sending your cv along to the american-accented school in Madrid, you mentioned your 'girls'. My sources suggest that it is the employment policy at said school to avoid employing teachers with children as those children take up a potential fee-paying place at the school. It is also more than an advantage to have yourself one of them there american accents.

    It remains a 'good' school though, in so many ways according to your criteria. But as mentioned above, no school is perfect.....
     
  8. Aah, so there is some hope. I know I have high expectations but my past experience in the independent sector, in the UK and Africa, means I have been in schools where most of these things have happened. When/if I go back to the home country I will be looking at private schools.

    The really sad thing is that none of these things are happening at my current school. Having been bought out by a very money hungry company, we have no facilities to speak of, have been promised a new school (for the past 7 yrs) and have very ineffective SMT, Head, falling numbers, low staff morale, have seen jobs with same company advertised at up to 9000 Euros more per year (just afew complaints).

    Oh, well. When in Spain.
     
  9. Bevi1

    Bevi1 New commenter

    I very much sympathise with the OP. Having moved to Spain en famille and full of enthusiasm, I am now finding the dream wearing a bit thin. I am also in a coastal school and we are also suffering from REALLY low morale.

    I wish someone had told me just HOW different things could be out here, how dodgy and fly by night a lot of things are.

    The only good thing about being in rapidly worsening school is that all of us rats still left on board are becoming better friends.

    I just wonder how many will still be here next year.
     
  10. miketribe

    miketribe Occasional commenter

    Yes, it's true, my school doesn't often take on teachers with families. I don't think it's so much an issue of free places -- we have a large number of staff kids in the school, and when free tuition was a "taxable benefit" the school made it much easier than did flippant's school for staff kids to stay on -- as for the fact that it's really quite difficult to support a non-working wife and a family on a Spanish teaching salary.

    Again, since it's an American school, most of the teachers hired do have funny accents, but we've hired a lot of non-Americans over the years. I suppose it depends on your subject. If you teach maths and your wife teaches physics and have both had amazingly good results on IB exams for the last ten years, then even the accent and the kids wouldn't be a problem! If you're a history teacher with no IB experience and your wife teaches top juniors then they'd probably go for a single American...
     
  11. Hi
    I would strongly advise you aquaint yourself with emploment laws in Spain. Maybe avoind the smaller islands such as Gran Canaria, the legal system for employment is dodgy!
     
  12. The number one reason to feel disappointed out here is the pay and that is why so many good teachers move on to other countries or even back to the UK. If you can swallow the monthly insult and watch how much you spend, then there are good schools with good fellow professionals out there. The coastal IB school in the province of Cadiz, which has already been mentioned, is one and another is an inland and growing A level school in a historical setting. Neither, I expect, have the resources of the more established Madrid schools, but will get there in time. I have visited both schools in a professional capacity and both staff and children seem pleasant enough.
     
  13. rachel_g41

    rachel_g41 Occasional commenter

    Salary varies greatly between different schools. I changed school in September because I simply couldn't manage on the salary - I'm now paid sigificantly more and can afford to think long term.

     
  14. I'm in a little English school in the north of Spain (the whole of secondary is little more than 100 pupils) and love it here... I think the school is a very good one. Though I agree that the pay is not great. It iss adequate though.

    The age and size of the school mean our resources can be a bit scarce, but we're quite creative :)
     
  15. Nice to hear that teaching can be enjoyable and creative with few resources.

    rachel_g41, out of interest, and feel free to tell me to mind my own business, what is the actual difference in salary between schools that you mention? I am aware that some schools do take into account cost of living, but only know of one that has a separate pay scale - that they are letting on about anyway.
     
  16. Hi there!
    I used to post a lot on any 'Spanish' thread but life has got in the way and I've resorted to having a little peek now and then.
    I worked in Spain for many years (16 to be exact) and decided that I wanted my experience and years of service to be recognised. This was an impossible task to achieve in Valencia and any Senior Management positions in the schools I worked in were always 'bought in' from the UK or given to the favourite with no apparent notive other than they were 'yes-people'. There was not even the chance of moving up a pay-scale. Where I worked there were no possibilities of CPD. So, I came back to the UK and I'm still here because, although my heart resides in Spain, I can't afford to entertain the fact that it doesn't matter what I've achieved (teaching-wise) but I'll always be paid whatever the most recent NQT or any other teacher who's employed is paid.
    Perhaps this has changed in Spain over the past six years since I came back to the UK but, from the info I've received from teachers in the schools I worked in, you get CPD, greater responsibilty and career choice if you are 'in the owners' pocket' or have come straight from the UK already with that role.
    Some people find that OK and some people can afford to find that OK and other people will find that when they have worked hard, done their time and are still not getting ANY financial or professional recognition then they have had enough....some schools in Spain need to wake up and smell the carajillo.....
    Hope everyone gets what they deserve...although I suspect that is not always the case....Good luck! If you find any school in Spain that fits the description the OP gives let me know...I'll be there like a shot!
     
  17. rachel_g41

    rachel_g41 Occasional commenter

    beeman - don't really want to talk names and numbers here but cost of living between the two varies very little, if at all. The salary meantime is roughly 20% more take home than before. It has made a big difference to me.
     
  18. so the 'Printing Press' is now a top school?!
     
  19. miketribe

    miketribe Occasional commenter

    But you only get into the El Mundo list if you agree to but advertising in their newspaper... Hence no International College Spain, no Runnymede, no British Council School, no American School of Madrid, even though they would certainly be in anyone's list of the best international schools in Madrid...
     

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