Does anyone have any experience of the public school system in Barcelona? I am moving out there in April with two kids, one 18 months, the other 5 years old. We can't afford private school so we are looking for a public primary school for our 5 year old boy.
I am really worried about how he will cope in school with everything in Catalan, and we are thinking he might find it easier to settle in if a few of the kids speak English. Are there any areas where there are significant populations of expats that send their kids to public schools?
My boyfriend is currenly living in Gracia, and likes it there but it's apparently very Catalan. Other areas we have considered include Poble Sec, Poble Nou, or maybe further out in Castadefels or Sitges.
Any help on this or general advice on the public school system in Barcelona would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance!
PS Neither my boyfriend or I speak any significant Spanish at the moment and no Catalan at all, although we fully intend to learn!
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I know this is an old thread, but I was wondering if there are new insights about this subject. We are planning to move permanently to Barcelona this summer. We are interested in Public Schools, mainly because we want our 11 (almost 12) y.o. girl to fully integrate into the Catalan culture/society. She will be starting secondary school (ESO), so it's going to be a bit of a challenge.
The school choice is going to be main variable and will likely dictate where we decide to live. We want to be somewhere central with easy access to the cultural offerings of the city. We definitely want to avoid areas that are too bohemian or ghettoized. On the other hand It would be great to have some international flavor both in the school and the neighborhood. We were reading an article about foreign people leaving in Barcelona and it seems that Gotic is one the areas with the largest concentration of English speakers. Obviously, they are likely mostly single young people without children, but we would like to hear first-hand experiences about schools in that area. We are also interested in Gracia, Eixample (both Dreta and Esquerra), Poble Nou, the whole sea front area East of Barceloneta, so if anybody can offer some advice about those areas we would greatly appreciate it.
I hope Lucy, the original post creator is still following this thread, because we would love to hear about her experience. Also Brian seem to have a very good understanding of the situation of the city and the country as a whole. So we would love to hear from them.
Gracies a tothom!
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Hi Brian, Thanks for all the info. I have passed your details onto my boyfriend, yes he is British.
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I forgot to ask, but I assume your boyfriend is british. Not that it makes any difference to me, it's just curiosity on my part. I'm a nosey bugger!
I would also like to reiterate my assurances as far as Catalan is concerned: your son will find a great deal of support from the school system, the scholl and staff themselves and classmates to make his intergration a easy as possible.
I really would like to explain things personally both to your boyfriend and yourself about the realities of living and integrating in Catalunya. I often feel that my short posts may give the impression that I and the Catalans are intolerant of immigrants. That is very far from the truth, but the Catalans do expect a minimum of effort and goodwill.
First Catalan lesson: "Petonets" are, literally, "little kisses" and is an affectionate greeting between acquaintances with whom you do not have a relationship which would merit "petons".
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My offer to meet up with your boyfriend is very far from being a simple courtesy. I really would be very happy to meet over a coffee, or whatever his poison happens to be.
As far as Spain being homogeneous is concerned, that was very true up until about 15 years ago. However, overall the immigrant population represents about 14% and in some areas 25% and, in a few places over 50%. That is without counting the fact that, in Catalunya, immigrants from other parts of the state are considered foreign immigrants if they refuse to learn Catalan and become part of their social environment. Believe it or not, some of my neighbours from other parts of Spain are incapable of even understanding Catalan after 50 years!!! of living here. This is, as you may well imagine, considered an insult by us. I consider myself Catalan having lived here for about 70% of my life.
Lucy, I reiterate my offer to have a chat with your boyfriend in which, I hope, I can be of practical help and explain the history, both past and contemporary, of Catalan relationships with Spain.
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Thanks for your replies and advice.
I'm trying to organize some Catalan lessons for my son whilst we are still in London but the teachers are few and far between.
Brian - its great that you have found the education system to be of a high level as I was a bit worried about that. We would be very happy in a multicultural area as we live in Walthamstow at the moment so that will be home from home and I also had read things about Spain being very homogenous (not sure if that is spelt right).
I'll pass on your details to my boyfriend - thanks.
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Primary schools are generally very good in Catalunya. As Meritxell said a five-year-old boy will have no trouble at all picking up the language and in primary schools there are "Welcoming Courses" designed to help with integration over the first months (I don't remember exactly how many), but there is always auxillary staff to aid anybody with specific problems, including slow-learning locals.
Both my daughters, currently 14 & 16 have gone through the public school system here and my eldest is currently in the States to do what was supposed to be her first year of "Batxillerat". I think you would call it the sixth form in the UK, at least in prehistoric times when I went to school. When she arrive she was immediately place in the second year as her level was far higher than that of her American contempories.
I have lived in both Gràcia and Poble Sec and know Poble Nou very well. All three of them are areas with a concentration of immigrants, as they were, originally, some of the more economical "barris". Gràcia in particular is well known for a multi-cultural/coloured population with a, what we generally call, "squatter look" with a surfeit of rastas. Though up till some years ago it was a very Catalan Barri, that is no longer true and, in fact, I have great difficulty in making my self understood in Catalan. There is a very large South American population who, in general, refuse to learn Catalan, which often restricts them to bar work and other menial tasks.
If your boyfriend is currently in Barcelona, I would be very happy to have a coffee and chat. My mobile is:
681 201 166
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It will be very difficult to find English speakers in public schools in Barcelona, to be honest. If you cannot afford a private school, I would suggest you find a Catalan tutor in your area or once you get to Barcelona in April. He or she could teach your children a few basic things. Children absorb languages way faster than adults so it won't be so difficult for them as you think. You still have 9 months to get the ready for school..
Maybe someone else here offers you a better solution, but in any case, good luck!