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Relocating - possibly to Spain. How to choose the right school?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by reke, May 30, 2019.

  1. reke

    reke New commenter

    Hello All,

    My husband and I are really debating moving and teaching in Spain for a couple of years - we have secondary PGCEs and have progressed through the ranks here but fancy something a little different. We have 2 kids (4 and 7) and we’d like them to experience something different and to hopefully pick up another language. We’ve seen from previous threads that for some people Spain is not the place they’d recommend. We’d like to do do Spain for the ease of getting back to visit family and also for the climate and the culture - we are not expecting to make money!

    I guess my questions are;

    1. How do you choose a school to work in? We only have pigeon Spanish and so it’ll have to be an international one I guess

    2. Do your own kids get a place if it is a through school? What type of discount do you get or is it free (as I’ve read in some posts)?

    3. Are the contracts and terms of employment really as bad as some say or are they ‘better’ in international schools?

    4. Any useful tips? Anyone know a school likely to need a science and English teacher in sept 2020?!?

    Thank you!
  2. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    This is exactly why I encourage @dumbbells66 to keep up the good work. There are one or two half decent schools in Spain, but they are extremely competitive. They still pay - at very best - not as well as the UK.

    However the vast majority of schools in Spain (yes - this includes 'international') are downright shocking. Expect to be abused, mistreated, conned and in tears. There is little to no regulation in the international sector, and the bottom tier (which most Spanish schools are) make even the worst British schools look like palaces of good practise.

    No doubt people will PM you the names of the ones worth working at. Keep an eye out for positions in those, but avoid the others at all costs.
    briancant, MsBuzy and dumbbells66 like this.
  3. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    well you have definitely chosen the right country for not making money @reke. will you have enough to get buy? this is a big question. i once met a Canadian woman on a workshop, and she worked in Madrid, and she had to ask her parents to buy her flight home for the summer because even after working there for 4 years, she actual couldnt afford it.

    yes, there is a VERY select few that can afford a half decent life in Spain, but these are very few and far between.

    have you considered Eastern Europe @reke ? anywhere outside the Euro zone. far far far far better pay, great schools and still very close to the UK
  4. GemmaKeen

    GemmaKeen New commenter

    Hello, another point of view here. I work in the Canary Isles as a full time teacher and husband works in the school (support staff non-educational). Yes wages are a little lower but cost of living also lower. We always rented in UK, never managed to get on housing ladder due to astronomical deposit and house prices. We have just bought a house here and it is beyond our wildest dreams. Children go to the school we work in and no fees payable (except lunch and uniform - and boy is the lunch worth it, don’t have to feed them when I get home!)
    I love my job, having left my previous school feeling less than adequate and very very low, I now have my teaching mojo back. The work (British international school) is exactly the same but in a very different context. The students are wonderful, definitely keeping me on my toes intellectually which is fabulous and I work with some very exciting and dynamic people. My Spanish is ‘progressing’ slowly but I keep thinking this is a permanent move so have time to nail it properly. There are bad schools in every country, we as a family took a huge risk and people thought we were mad! I am delighted to say the risk has paid off so far and we are very happy, and the doubters are loving coming and staying with us! Good luck in your move abroad if you decide it is for you.
  5. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter


    As you may have read elsewhere, free school places for staff children in the law in Spain. But ask at interview what costs you will have to pay and how much they are - expect to pay for food, uniform and books. Anything else, query. At our school, parents used to have to pay a "registration fee" - the new management (Swedish) have abolished this. Also, look out for mandatory (and unpaid) summer schools.

    If both of you are working, you'll be fine. Budget for a combined income of around 3,000 euros per month (though, if you've got kids, there are substantial discounts/refunds on taxes IF you do all the admin properly - my wife and I just got 1,000+ back in a tax rebate). Big city schools - Madrid, Alicante, Barcelona - may pay more, but that'll be offset by higher rents, so it's a much of a muchness.

    There was a school in South East Spain - our reigning monarch - looking for an English HoD and I don't think they filled the position, so a speculative (and rapid) enquiry might turn up results.

    Feel free to message me if you want to ask specific details. Buena suerte.
    reke likes this.
  6. kounterfeit

    kounterfeit New commenter

    Barry Hines' book about a bird, spelt backwards, how do they rank?
  7. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    That's a bit TOO cryptic for me!
    But, there ARE good schools in Spain. I know of three in Madrid, two in Barcelona and one on the coast and there may be others I don't know about...
  8. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    ... and it's true that you have a legal right to free tuition for your kids (5-18). If the school questions this then that would be grounds for looking elsewhere.
  9. lottee1000

    lottee1000 Occasional commenter

    KES is the book...

    There is a decent school in Valencia as well which you should look at, OP. Biggest and oldest one there, often referred to as the printing press school, but billion times better than many old reviews you might find about it.
  10. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    Ahhhh! There are several of them scattered around Spain. The one in Madrid has an OK reputation, but it’s very Spanish even though it offers the IB in English.
  11. BarryRiley

    BarryRiley New commenter

    There are plenty of countries in the world where you can enjoy a fantastic climate and culture. Also, Spain might seem close to the UK but at the end of the day it's just the difference between being sat on a plane for a few hours more. I'd much rather be financially comfortable and a 7 hour flight away than starving to death with a 2 hour flight I can't afford anyway.

    I'm not saying 'don't choose Spain'. I'm just saying don't restrict yourself so much
    dumbbells66 likes this.
  12. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    when i left my utter horrendous Zoo of a so called school in Spain for Eastern Europe my take home pay doubled and my outgoings reduced to next to nothing. my contact time reduced significantly and i got more holidays. and on top of that the full international teachers package of free accommodation, flights etc, it was definitely worth the extra 30 minutes of flight time back to the UK. when you take package difference i got between Spain and Eastern Europe, the value was at least 4 times what i got in Spain.... and i was paid comparatively well for Spain. far more than what most people are quoting on this forum...no mike, not you
  13. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Delenda est Hispania (Marcus Porcius Dumbells, AD 66) CATO.jpg
    tb9605 and miketribe like this.
  14. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    Just heard from someone who was offered 40,000 euros a year here in Madrid. Not up to your high standards, dumbbells, but certainly enough to live fairly comfortably on...
  15. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    Not bad. At £35,000, that's around M4 in London.
  16. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    So, @miketribe that €40 000 would get them €28,953 nett. Take away a minimum of €800 a month for rent, then €200 for bills, that leaves them with €18, 953 at the end of the year. Its really not a lot for a professional, and its also at the extreme high end for Spain. In context, i nett over €30 000 when you take my overall package in about 8 weeks. The only thing i cant get here in comparison to Spain in Bullfighting and MacDonalds..... yet again, these poor souls have been "suckered in" to the "lifestyle" myth. Where in fact you can get that same standard pretty much anywhere, and is surpassed in so so so so many places
  17. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    As always, i’m Afraid we’ll have agree to disagree. I must admit that I was surprised at the high offer, but that just goes to show that things are maybe beginning to change for the better.
  18. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    What you always miss (and refuse to acknowledge) in these argument Dumbells, is that it's not just about the money or even the lifestyle. It's about security, equality of opportunities, language, etc. Here's a few examples:

    - Where you work (although it's better in this respect than many African countries) homosexuality remains illegal.
    - The murder rate in Spain is over 5 times less than where you work (though, again, it's far worse elsewhere in Africa)
    - Spain ranks a good 120 places above your location in terms economic equality
    - Rather amazingly, Spain also beats your host country in terms of (lack of) corruption in public life by some 120 places.... I know, I was rather amazed by this one, given all the stories about corruption in Spanish politics.
    - 470 million odd speakers of Spanish in the world: hence why I'm happy that's the language my kids are learning, and you can't put a price on that.

    Now, perhaps none of these things matter to you. But please accept that they do matter to others. Maybe it's because I'm a parent that I care more about these things - for me it's important that my children grow up in an environment where gross inequality isn't thrust in their face on a daily basis, that we don't have to worry about looking our doors and hiring security guards, and LGBTQ colleagues don't have to lie about who they are.
    DocShew, Mainwaring and miketribe like this.
  19. isobelcox1989

    isobelcox1989 New commenter

    Hi there, I've been interviewed for a job at a school in Madrid, and would like to find out if it's one of the ones I should be avoiding; would you be able to PM me the names of the good ones you know of please? :)
  20. docHolliday

    docHolliday New commenter

    I think the UK curriculum schools in Madrid are on a par with the schools in the UK, although most of the salaries are local (lower)
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019

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