Mallorca is the largest and most sophisticated (boasting a splendid Gothic cathedral) of the Balearic Islands. In the past, it was occupied by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Moors and the residue of this cultural cocktail, combined with its natural charm make it a magnet for expat families, plus, there are now several international schools to choose from.
Best known in recent decades as a place for sinking sangria and getting a tan, Mallorca (and particularly, Palma) has been a trading post since the Romans spotted the agricultural possibilities of the Balearics. The tourist industry has risen to be king in the 21st century (hopefully Covid will prove to be a temporary blip as the industry has become the lifeblood of Mallorca), but Palma is still a thriving, cosmopolitan city with an established infrastructure for foreigners as well as locals.
This is not just a place to retire to, or even to choose for a sabbatical, as foreigners come to work here in bricks and mortar offices as well as the virtual equivalent, after all you can still soak up, the sangria and the sunshine (the climate is great). There is also the availability of international schools plus the opportunity of learning about nature from growing oranges to getting lucky in the Tramuntana mountains in spotting a weird, and extremely rare, Mallorcan Midwife Toad.
This is the goliath of the Balearic islands (both in size and population), but it is still only just over 40 miles wide and 60 miles from north to south. Nevertheless, Palma is a proper city with over 400,000 inhabitants, a world-class airport and shops and most of the international schools have set up, either in or around the capital.
A mecca for foreign househunters since the start of the 20th century, you have a fantastic choice of seaside or countryside for your base but if you want to send your children to an international school that is easy to reach, life is less stressful if you live in Palma or the peninsula to the southwest of the city.
That is, unless you are incubating a tennis star, in which case the American International School of Mallorca within the grounds of the Rafa Nadal Centre in Manacor might make it sensible to live on the east of the island. The school was opened in 2016 and offers the choice of an American High School Diploma. Alternatively, you could decide to live in or near Pollenca, a short drive from the Mallorca International School (confusingly, also known as My School) opened in 2016 and offering the only English language education in the north of the island.
The remainder of the international schools are all fairly close to central Palma, with the majority on the southwestern edge of the city or further along the coast towards Magaluf. There are just two schools in the direction of Inca, which is diagonally opposite - the Academy International School and the Montessori School of Mallorca, the first teaching students up to the age of 16 and offering IGCSEs and the latter only teaching up to the age of 12. Also, towards the north, close to the university and stopping at 16 are the Escola Global Mallorca and Green Valley International School. The latter is intending to expand upwards and is a candidate for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
Possibly due to the number of British residents over the years, A Levels predominate, as the qualification at 18, unlike in most European cities. Palma College (16-18) is slap, bang in the middle of the city, offering these as well as IGCSEs and BTECs. Bellver International College (founded in 1950) is one of the oldest British schools in Spain, with an English and a Spanish curriculum and the Lycée Francais de Palma (on the move to a new campus in Sa Teulera) are both on the southwestern edge of the city as is Queen’s College Mallorca, another school offering English and Spanish curricula.
Fractionally further away from the centre is Baleares International College, whilst King Richard III College and Agora Portals International School (the only school offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma) are the closest to Magaluf, of the more popular international schools.
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 Mallorca considered by expats'
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.
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. Also, remember that the Balearic Islands are an autonomous region with responsibility for its own education system and that here, most lessons are taught in Catalan rather than Castilian.
In addition, and probably more appealing to expats, are private Spanish schools (escuelas privadas), which are mainly co-ed, day schools, used by about a third of Spanish families.
Robert Graves, the English poet, came to live in Deia (who is buried here) nearly 100 years ago and the appeal to northern Europeans, and indeed most nationalities, is as strong as ever, despite the conversion from agriculture to tourism. Naturally, this appeal has encouraged professional educators to open up international schools to cater for the demand.