How To Choose The Best School in Malaga For Your Child…

At Move to Malaga, our team treats everyone as an individual. We understand that every relocation requires its own personalised attention. We do not assume, presume or deal with the masses. The personal service we provide is the flagship of our business.

One of the most important decisions you have to make when moving to Spain with children is choosing which school to send your children to. Whether to enrol your children in a Spanish state school or a private international school.

So, if you ask us which is the best school in Malaga for your child, this is what we will say to you …

  • This is a question you must answer for yourself.
  • We will provide you with the information.
  • We will schedule school visits and help you prepare the questions to ask.
  • We will listen to your concerns and be your bouncing board.

And then you will make the right decision. You will decide which is the best school in Malaga for your child.

About Schools in Spain:

The availability of state schools and international schools in Spain varies by region. Hence, it is advisable to carefully research the schools in the area you plan to make your new home before you plan your move to Spain.

In Malaga, we are fortunate to have an excellent choice of education options.

Before we explain how you can decide which is the best school for your child, let’s have a look at the Spanish school system:

There are three stages of schooling in Spain, for children from 9 months old to sixteen years old.

  1. Non-obligatory Pre-primary (Guardería and Infantíl)
  2. Obligatory Primary Education (Primaria)
  3. Obligatory Secondary School (ESO)

Non-obligatory Pre-Primary (Guardería and Infantíl) :

From the age of nine months to three years, children are looked after at guarderías (nursery schools). Class sizes here tend to be very small and the focus is more on “looking after” the child as a form of childcare as opposed to education.

In the year that children turn three, they move to educación infantíl.

(EI) – pre-primary school. Here, generally from the year that they turn four, they will start learning numbers and letters and other subjects that prepare them for the next stage.

Obligatory Primary Education (Primaria) :

This stage goes from six to twelve years with three two-year periods (years 1 and 2; 3 and 4; 5 and 6). If children have not reached the required results in key subjects (mathematics, Spanish language and English) after each year, they may have to repeat a year.

Maximum class sizes are usually 25, with most teaching done by a class tutor, apart from sports, music and languages, which are taught by specialists.

Subjects covered are Spanish, maths, PE, art, Conocimiento del Medio (which includes geography, history and biology) and a second language, usually English. Religion (Catholic) is optional: the school generally asks parents if they wish their child to study it – other subjects are available should parents prefer to opt out.

Obligatory Secondary School (ESO):

Lower secondary (educación secundaría obligatoría) runs from age twelve to sixteen. The maximum class size is 30. As in the UK, teachers at this stage are split into specialist subject areas, but children still have a personal class tutor. Compulsory subjects include science, sport, social science, geography, history, Spanish language and literature, a foreign language and maths. Again, assessment is continuous and based on exams, with lower-achieving children having to repeat a year.

Spain has the highest rate of repeat-year performances in Europe. If they pass, the student is awarded a Certificate of Compulsory Secondary Education.

Upper Secondary:

This is non-compulsory schooling from age 16 to 18. Students can take Bachillerato, the equivalent of A-levels and similar to the International Baccalaureate. Students usually take 10 subjects in the first year and eight in the second. Compulsory subjects include Spanish language and literature, a foreign language, sport and philosophy. Beyond the core subjects, students can choose to specialise in the arts, natural sciences, engineering, social sciences or humanities.

There are regular exams, usually once a term, as well as final exams. If students pass their exams throughout the course and at the end, they are awarded a Bachiller. The Bachiller, along with an oral exam in a foreign language, are the qualifications required to attend a Spanish university.


  1. The above is simply a guideline to the Spanish school system. Private and International schools may vary their curriculum. This is one of the factors you must clarify when making your own decisions. (Reference article:
  2. Private and International schools offer alternative curriculums such as A-levels and International Bachiller, at upper secondary level.
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The type of school you initially choose for your child depends on what language you wish them to be educated in and which educational system you wish them to follow. Budget and location must also be taken into account, although when planning your move to Malaga, we always start the process by helping you select the best school for your child. Once you decide on the school, we then explore property location options.

How To Apply For A Spanish State School:

Spanish state schools have pupil quotas. You are allocated places based on a points system, subject to certain criteria*(see below)

Good schools are often full and it can be very difficult and even impossible to obtain a place.

The application period for admission is from March 1st  to 31st.

Before mid-April, the schools publish the list of applicants and, where appropriate, the total score obtained.

At the end of April, the public draw is held, which is only applicable when applications for admission exceeds the offer of school places and, following the application of the criteria of the scale, tie situations occur.

Download Spanish State School (in Andalucia) application forms here**:

When there are not enough places to attend to all the requests, there are a series of *criteria to order admission:

  • The existence of brothers or sisters enrolled in the educational centre or parents, guardians, or legal guardians working in the same.
  • The proximity of the family home or place of work of the father, mother or legal guardian.
  • The annual income of the family unit.
  • If there are cases of disability in the family.
  • The application is submitted by a large family.
  • The application is submitted by a single parent family.
  • Applicant’s academic record (for Baccalaureate).

Reference article (in Spanish):


You must be registered on the padrón (the official register of inhabitants) at your local ayuntamiento before you enroll your child at a state school.

Paperwork to prepare for submitting with the completed school application**(use link above to download the form):

  • your child’s birth certificate or passport
  • your own passport
  • your NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero)
  • current Padrón certificate
  • an up-to-date immunisation/medical certificate
  • proof of residence in Spain.

Many people ask us which is the best school in Malaga? We are often asked which is the best school in Malaga for a particular child. Do you know which school we say? Which would you say?

As soon as you are ready to start your relocation research, CONTACT US and we will be happy to assist you and make the process smoother and stress-free…

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