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Secondary schools

Secondary schools in the city are typically about 5-600 pupils, so smaller than a typical UK secondary school which can mean that facilities like science labs look a little less impressive. Children also have short days on Wednesday's and Fridays.

We've now been here long enough to have our son start secondary school. Compared to the start, this was a breeze. Being in the system makes things so much easier. For a secondary school, it's similar to the primary school entry stystem. You have to apply to the schools that you like. You get points for being in a feeder school, being in the area, being a big family etc. Then you get in (or not).

One trick that parents have, is that it can be difficult to attend open days for all the potential schools - they sometimes overlap even in neighbouring schools. So we've noticed that parents visit both in the year they need to apply, but also year 5, the year before.

Secondary schools start to have pupils working on different subject areas and to a greater depth. The teachers we've seen have been a little older. The schools are smaller than in the UK, and some of the facilities look a little more limited (only two or three science rooms for instance), but that's because there are fewer pupils.

The school day starts to become a little more complex. It doesn't necessarily start at the same time each day, and Wednesday and Friday afternoons are free. There are also fewer after school activities - it's sort of expected that the student will be joining clubs etc by this age.

Expectations at secondary level are higher than at primary school and all the pupils complained when they started that the work was tougher and the teachers were stricter. Perhaps not a bad thing.

The curriculum is similar to that in the UK, though probably more traditional in content. Most schools seem to run to 18 and so to a bachilaureate (the Spanish equivalent of A-levels).


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