Skip to main content

Madrid education and international schools

In Madrid, international schools may be thin on the ground at least compared to the number of cultural gems or fabulous fish restaurants (unusual for a landlocked city) but there are more well-established educational options to choose from, than you can find in many European cities.

Public transport is brilliant in Madrid, so there’s more flexibility about where you can decide to live, knowing that you won’t need to get out the compass and draw a tiny circle, round where you work or where your children go to school, in order to avoid daily, travel meltdown.

Salamanca is the Upper East Side of Madrid, the avenues are broad, the shopping is seductive, the financial district is next door and the prices are high. Largely home to rich Madrileños, they are joined by successful expats, pulling down large salaries, as well as diplomats. This is a great option for the latter, as the area is full of embassies, including the US, Canada and Switzerland. Fuente del Berro, with its park and neat villas and townhouses, appeals more to families than the other five barrios that make up the quarter, unless you want the poshest, which is Recoletos.

Marginally cheaper and less chic but with bigger houses and good for young families is next-door Chambertin, which has  the advantage of having two of the best known infant schools (the British Council Infant School and King’s Infant School) on its doorstep.

On the opposite side of the Plaza Mayor (the hub of ancient Madrid), on the western edge of the city, is the district of Los Austrias, whose name harks back to the Habsburg rulers of Spain. If you want to live amongst some of Europe’s most beautiful buildings and prefer more traditional Spanish restaurant experiences, this could be the place for you.

International schools

Unfortunately, the quid per quo for being surrounded by magnificent architecture, can be time spent on the school run, as only three of the international schools that are reasonably close to the centre are those in northwest Madrid. These consist of the main campus of the British Council School, interestingly founded in 1940 (surely a brave move), Kensington School and the American School of Madrid. The group of SEK International Schools has several campuses, Colegio Internacional SEK - El Castillo is in northwest Madrid, but one of its other divisions, Colegio Internacional SEK - Santa Isabel, is bang in the middlle, a stone’s throw from the Prado, whilst the campus for Colegio Internacional SEK – Cuidalcampo, is further out to the northeast, beyond Alcobendas. The only school due west of the city, in Villaviciosa de Odón, is the bilingual Agora International School, part of a group of privately owned Spanish schools.

Nearly seventy years after Joseph Bonaparte’s brief rule, the French renewed their link with Madrid, by opening the Lycée Francais de Madrid, originally with only 50 pupils, but now the world’s largest French international school outside France. On two campuses, one in the northeast of Madrid and one further outside the centre, at Alcobendas. This town also boasts the Urbanization La Moraleja, known as the Beverley Hills of Madrid, with its flashy houses, complete with exorbitant price-tags.

The cost of housing is not a deterrent to the wealthy, so Alcobendas has attracted other international schools to set up there, including, King’s College School (at present, teaching up to the age of 16) which is conveniently on the spot in La Moraleja, the International College of Spain (owned by Nord Anglia) and Runnymede College, which (like the International School of Madrid) only offers A Levels as a final qualification. Other international schools to the east of Madrid are Hastings School (in fact a group of five schools for different ages) the International School of Madrid and St George International, the newest of the popular international schools in Madrid.

When it comes to curricula, almost all the schools offer IGCSEs and then the majority go on to A Levels, including KIng's College, (the only school in the group to go through to 18), with one IB Diploma school (Agora International), In addition, several of them provide the alternative leaving qualification of the Spanish Bachillerato.

For more information on these schools, please go to each school’s individual entry on the GSGI database or The GSGI article 'Best schools in Madrid considered by expats'.

State schools

'Escuela pública' is probably a less popular option for expats (unless Spanish is already part of daily life) as there is no guarantee that the teachers will speak English. Smaller children tend to adapt and become integrated more easily and it is a good solution (particularly at the primary stage) if you intend to stay for a long time and want your child to speak fluent Spanish and it is easier to move from state to private than vice-versa. Also, be aware that the standards of these schools can vary dramatically but will probably be higher, if in an area favoured by expats and wealthier Spaniards.

In addition, and probably more appealing to expats, are private Spanish schools (escuelas privadas), which are mainly co-ed, day schools used by about one third of Spanish families. 

And finally…

Hard to find fault with Madrid as a fantastic posting. What’s not to like about amazing architecture, delicious food and fantastic culture and the schools on offer both state, private and international rarely let the standard down.

Most popular Good Schools Guide articles


  • Special educational needs introduction

    Need help? Perhaps you suspect your child has some learning difficulty and you would like advice on what you should do. Or perhaps it is becoming clear that your child's current school is not working for him or her, and you need help to find a mainstream school which has better SEN provision, or to find a special school which will best cater for your child's area of need. Our SEN consultancy team advises on both special schools, and the mainstream schools with good SEN support, from reception through to the specialist colleges for 19+. Special Educational Needs Index

  • The Good Schools Guide International

    Coronavirus As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, The Good Schools Guide International offers the following guidance:  Determine the global situation and that of individual countries on government mandated school closures by accessing the UNESCO information on this link: https://en.unesco.org/themes/education-emergencies/coronavirus-school-closures.   For updates on the medical situation, go to  the World Health Organisation website at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports.  If you wish to contact one of our GSGI listed schools to discover their current status or any plans for alternate learning strategies, please go to our database to find email and phone numbers for each school https://www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk/international-search. If your company makes you brexit, The GSGI should be your first stop.…

  • Uni in the USA... and beyond

    The British guide to great universities from Harvard to Hong Kong. We tell you how to choose, how to apply, how to pay.

  • Performing arts schools

    At specialist music, dance or performing arts schools, the arts aren't optional extras. They’re intrinsic to the school curriculum. Students are expected to fit in high level training and hours of practice alongside a full academic provision. It's a lot to ask any child to take on, but for those with exceptional performing ability this kind of education can be transformative.

  • Grammar schools best value added

    We examined the value-added from KS2 to GCSE for 2017 to see which state selective grammar schools added the most value to their offspring. A note of caution - the more highly selective a grammar school, the less scope there will be to add value. Read more


Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews:

☑ 30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory
☑ Instant access to in-depth UK school reviews
☑ Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,200 schools
☑ Independent tutor company reviews

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

Buy Now

GSG Blog >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

The Good Schools Guide Newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.

The Good Schools Guide manifesto for parents