This is a brief list of schools expats tend to consider in the quite large Costa Blanca area.
As often happens with a guide whose editors are expat parents themselves, editors are sometimes reposted before the section can be completed. That has happened in this case. However, the schools she had researched and selected for final investigation before possibly writing full GSGI reviews are noted with a next to the name.
We hope these brief comments enable readers to see the great diversity in what is on offer and the distances one might have to travel from a dream home villa in a remote town. We welcome new information from readers about any of them (contact us).
The range of British and international schools is increasing along with the expat population, but the standards and facilities at each one vary greatly (see GSGI Educational Overview of the Costa Blanca/Costa Calida). These schools are listed in order of geographical area from North to South along the Costa Blanca and also further south in what is technically the Costa Calida. That is, a coverage of over 300kms in two regions, the Valencian Community and Murcia.
All of the schools in the list have places for infants up to secondary, or plans to provide them.
The American School of Valencia
Co-ed, 750 students in the kidergarten, primary and secondary schools. Most classes taught in English, local intake is large but there are pupils from all over the world. Prepares students for both Spanish and US universities, meaning that everyone takes the Spanish Baccalaureate Diploma as well as the American High School Diploma, SATs as well as "Selectividad" (Spanish uni entrance). IB also available.
The British School at Alzira
The location is delightful and the school buildings are a treasure. The owners are extremely wealthy Spaniards and it attracts a correspondingly well-heeled clientele. The staff seem to be perfectly efficient and businesslike and striving towards excellence. It is certainly worth investigating if moving to the outer Valencia area and the fees are affordable to you.
20-30mins from the centre of Valencia, Caxton is a co-ed senior school (11-18) with boarding available. Teaching is in English and follows the English curriculum.
Elian's also has a branch in Valencia. No comment available from parents as to whether this is of similar calibre as La Nucia branch (see comments below). Elian´s also has a main branch in Dublin, Ireland as well as a small residential language school in Spain for the teaching of English as a foreign language.
English School los Olivos
Co-ed, ages 3-18, day school with teaching in Englsih and Spanish, though students take IGCES and A-Levels in conjunction with a slightly adapted curriculum. Run as a coperative, and the majority of students are Spanish.
Xabía International College
Staff here have always been most helpful. Some discomfort with it amongst a few British parents, but it’s not clear what it was that they found to take an instant dislike to. Despite the rather grand sounding title, the primary department at least is very down to earth and welcoming, being housed in a quaint old country hotel with small classrooms. The old hotel reception desk area still remains and now the school secretary sits there at the heart of XIC dealing with administration.
The surroundings are perhaps a little bit run down but facilities are all there for IT, arts, library, sports and the school enjoys frequent good publicity in the local press with coverage of academic achievements, charity events and exciting excursions.
The Lady Elizabeth School (-pending)
No parental input but the opinion of teachers who have worked there in the past is that the school is “a good employer” and that it maintains a “high standard”.
The Firs, Costa Nova
First visited this school in the very early days of spring 2004 when it was starting up in the front room of the Head Teacher´s home. It then moved into a large detached building formerly used as a real estate agency in a central position in the Costa Nova Urbanisation way up in the pine forests above Javea. The facility was well structured but unfortunately the school had to suspend operations for a time while paperwork issues were sorted out with local authorities. The school is now back in full swing and seems to have a good attendance with a small English village type atmosphere.
La Nucia (near Benidorm)
Elian's (- pending)
Elian's is privately owned by Spaniards but part of the Dublin-based group of schools. Headteacher and Head of Secondary both seem totally dedicated to the needs of the students and their parents, and dynamic in approach. In short, this is one of the most impressive schools we have ever seen in terms of overall picturesque setting and its facilities. On entering the grounds and modern building, it reminds us more of a hotel and spa resort. It is (for these parts at least) quite spectacular. The school offers parents a complete package with before and after school child-care, Spanish classes for parents and other much needed support aimed at working professional parents. Parents particularly comment on the touches of humour about the place, including the Harry Potter hat in reception used to select pupils for houses. Terrific stuff, but no doubt a hefty price tag – “fees on application”.
The British School of Alicante
This school enjoys a good reputation. It seems to be closet to how most parents would imagine an international school to be. Purpose-built, it has recently expanded with the secondary department and it is modern and efficient in terms of overall presentation and administration with approachable staff. The BSA seems to have struck the best balance between operating as a successful business, whilst aiming for excellence in education and a pleasant environment for staff and pupils to work in. The school sits on the south side of the city on a hillside with sea views, and is easily accessible.
This school enjoys a fantastic reputation amongst well-educated Spanish families but is a bit of an anticlimax after what one has been led to expect. The reception and administration staff always seem rather harassed; it’s difficult to arrange an interview with the Spanish director due to pressures of her work and absences. Newton is not as big or glamorous/international as the image might suggest. Although purpose-built in the countryside (just off the southern ring road) around Elche the facilities are perhaps less well designed as they might have been (for example, there is no assembly hall or similar for their school concerts). It is extremely popular with Spanish friends who almost sign up their offspring at birth for a place there, so perhaps the anticlimactic feelings boil down to the fact that it does not seem as overtly “British” or “international” as expected.
The British Primary School
This school opened at the end of 2005 in the same building (formerly a very large private house/grounds) as that used by the “Lady Of Elche International School”, which was forced to close earlier in the year. LEIS (not to be confused with ELIS – “El Limonar International School”- see Murcia) had only been operating for a year or so and apparently ran into a number of problems. The new Primary School is so new that as there are no views from parents available.
Mar Azul International School
Currently operates out of some fairly shoddy buildings in the Mar Azul Urbanisation on the south side of Torrevieja which is where it started off just a few years ago. It was due to move into new premises within the Torrevieja district, but owing to difficulties with the local council, it now looks as though the school may be forced to abandon this plan and take on a new building in San Miguel de Salinas. The ups and downs of the saga were covered avidly by the local press but any negative publicity was offset on the whole by the coverage of scholastic achievements and other good works.
School administrators have both been proactive within the wider community here promoting the school and providing help and advice to parents through personal attendance at exhibitions, charity events, and through contributions to the website www.kidsinspain.com which is full of useful and interesting local information.
The school and its staff offer British families a happy medium on their first time overseas. Not so swish, perhaps, but the school has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and is not as intimidating as other polished international schools might appear to the inexperienced expat investigating them for the first time. And not as daunting for their children as a state school would be, if they have no Spanish language under their belts.
El Limonar International School, Villamartin
See also ELIS Murcia (below)
El Limonar International School
British parents who have children at ELIS Murcia and some at ELIS Villamartin all say that they are perfectly satisfied with the education on offer and the facilities. The school receives a fair amount of press coverage – all positive.
(Do not get confused: a few of the staff left in 2004/05 and opened their own school the Lady Of Elche International School which has since closed (see the entry for Elche). By accident or design the abbreviations for the schools were similar: LEIS and ELIS. This may have been rivalry - there is a fair amount of that around.)
The school in Murcia was established some fifteen years ago with the branch at Villamartin opening a couple of years ago. Both schools have pupils attending from as far afield as San Pedro del Pinatar, La Manga del Mar Menor and Mazarrón which technically form part of the Costa Calida rather than the Costa Blanca.
Opened in San Pedro in September 2006, but the first international school to operate in that specific region. Word is that at first they seemed to be running before they could walk (by trying to offer more services and clubs etc than perhaps they had resources to cover in the start-up phase) but it all seems to be bedding down.
King's College at La Torre Golf Resort
Parque Empresarial Polaris World, Autovia Murcia - San Javier, Km. 18, Balsicas, Murcia, ES 30591
Another newish school in Murcia province; opened in September 2007. Part of the same King's management group as the British School of Alicante, this school is backed by Polaris World, the developer/promoter of the Golf Resort la Torre, who wanted to provide a novel service to their clients with an on-site educational establishment for the children. The school will also be open to non-Golf resort residents.
Shoreless Lake School, Totana (- pending)
Even if you are not a fan of single sex schools, this one deserves special mention. We visited last year on belhalf of others looking at options and was greatly impressed. In a rural setting outside of the interesting town of Totana near Murcia, this Catholic boys' school opened in 1997 as a branch of the SLS of New Jersey, USA. The atmosphere is calm and disciplined, and the staff and pupils were so charming this editor almost signed up her own son on the spot. Others in the growing international community around Totana are - we are told - equally impressed with the set-up there. The school does welcome non-Catholics as pupils.
SEN schools that have been flagged up to us in this region (but which we have not visited personally):
Colegio Comarcal de Educacion Especial Gargasindi
Telno 96 583 1417
Colegio Publico Comarcal de Educacion Especial Rachel Paya
Ptda Madrigueres Sud, 74
Telno 96 578 8011