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International Scandinavian School of Madrid (The)

The Scandinavian School in Madrid consists of a Swedish and international section for 18 months old – 18 y/o; runs true to a Scandinavian philosophy and offers IGSCEs / A levels.

  • International Scandinavian School of Madrid (The)
    Camino Ancho, 14
  • T +34 916500127
  • E [email protected]
  • W
  • School Ages: 18-18
  • School Gender: Mixed
  • Total School Numbers: 400
  • Teaching Language(s):
    • English
  • Bilingual Programme(s):
    • Other/English
  • SEN: SEN considered case by case
  • Boarding: Not available
  • Uniform: No
  • School Year: September - June: two terms
  • School Hours: 8:50 - 16.00
  • Annual Fee Range: € 8,230 - € 13,670
  • Fee Information: Application fee: € 360 Enrolment fee: € 500 Educational material fee € 300 Lunch fees: € 950/m; School bus fees: € 195/m
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Memberships: Inspected by NABBS (National association of British Schools in Spain), NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges), Cambridge Assessment International Education.
  • State/Independent: Non-profit


  • A levels
  • Cambridge International Primary Programme (CIPP)
  • Cambridge International Secondary 1 Programme
  • International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE)


  • Cambridge Education (DfE BSO approved)
  • National Association of British Schools in Spain (NABSS)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

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What The Good Schools Guide International says

Head of School

Since 2016, Jenny Dettmann BA MSc. While her master's degree subject was in business administration (from the Stockholm School of Economics no less) Jenny has actually always been passionate about education and children. Couple that with an international mindset and it would seem like an obvious step that she would leave a London-based consultancy role at Accenture and join the Scandinavian School when she relocated to Spain for love back in 2009.

Her first job working for the school board was to develop the (then new) international section of the school. At that time, the school was mainly Scandinavian and the international section almost non-existent. Nowadays, the split is very different with about 33 per cent of students in the Scandinavian section and 66 per cent in the international section, a clear testament of Jenny’s vision for the school.

Back then, Jenny also taught Swedish and German, in parallel to studying pedagogy at the University of Stockholm and completing The National Agency for Education School Management programme, also at the Stockholm University. In 2013, she progressed to school deputy before becoming head of school in 2016.

Jenny’s own children have all studied at the school and the apples certainly haven’t fallen far from the tree. Her eldest daughter is studying at a university in London, her second eldest is finishing upper secondary school in Sweden and her youngest currently in year 7.

Jenny is a person who most certainly will not bore you with conversation. She is not the most talkative but when she does talk, her words are meaningful and genuine. She is tall, dark (who says Swede must be blonde!), is fluent in at least four languages and although a little timid, there are no awkward silences. She appears to have strong relationships with students, teachers, and parents. Being a small school, Jenny knows everybody and new families to the school can expect to meet with Jenny or deputy principal Johanne.

When not running the school, Jenny loves nothing better than to tuck into a book (in her native tongue). Or travel to far off places.


The Scandinavian school is growing and wait lists are common. It is important to note that the school aims to maintain its small, intimate community and so does not plan to grow class or year sizes.

From year 1 upwards students must sit an admissions test in English and maths. Ideally the school would like new students to spend half a day at the school to see what it’s like and for the school to informally get to know them. Of course, this is not always possible and so the school does facilitate virtual visits and online admissions tests.

Entry mid-way through the IGSCEs or A level years will very much depend on subjects and exam boards. Student attitude is also considered as these students arriving 'out of season' will have to work extra hard to make it through.

Open days are held throughout the year as Jenny and her team try to accommodate a new family’s schedule as best they can and make themselves available as and when needed.

Most expat families enrol in the international section and tend to be quite settled in Madrid whereas the Swedish section attracts more Scandinavian expat families that are here for just a couple of years (although some do settle). Covid has left its mark there.


The first graduating cohort in 2021 saw the six students go to universities in Spain, Holland and UK. The school offers support and guidance to students wishing to attend Spanish, European, British or American universities.

The school offers similar support to families who need to unexpectedly leave midway through a year.

Latest results

IGSCE results in 2021: 59 per cent of all grades were A*/A grades or equivalent and 75 per cent A*-B. In 2020 students fared slightly better: 62 per cent of all grades were A*/A grades or equivalent and 78 per cent A*-B. (Students sat exams in 2021but 2020 grades were teacher assessed).

Teaching and learning

This school is first and foremost a Scandinavian school. However, with the international section seeing most growth, the school must strive to balance one section with the other and not lose the Scandinavian philosophy which makes this school so special.

The Scandinavian educational philosophy is central to the school and especially embraced during infants (two – six years old). So, what exactly is this philosophy? One which is very much focused on a child’s overall wellbeing and development; outdoor play is fundamental, with every day a mix of free and structured play. Classes are even held outside. It is very refreshing to see children spend so much time outdoors as this is most definitely not the norm in schools in Madrid. No matter the weather, children here head out in their sun or rain gear and enjoy themselves.

Early reading and writing skills are introduced in preschool and built upon in primary. Unlike in the Spanish education system, where all students are introduced to reading and writing at four years old, children here will only start at such an early age if they show real interest in reading and writing. Most children will not formally start reading and writing until they move up to the primary section (year 1). Families that choose the Scandinavian school for their child are usually families that want something a little different. They are not fans of rote memorisation or of the idea that young children should spend a large part of their day sitting at desks doing worksheets.

In primary and lower secondary, students follow the Cambridge curriculum in conjunction with the National Curriculum for England. In years 10-11 students follow IGCSEs and in years 12-13 AS and A-levels.

Even in the international section, the school still endeavours to incorporate aspects of the Scandinavian philosophy which includes helping the students to develop important life skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and emotional management.

Spanish is offered from year 1 with two groups: native Spanish language speakers and students learning Spanish as a second language. Classes split by ability so expect a mix of age groups. In year 7 students may choose between French or German.

Homework in the primary section is light, which parents and students alike thoroughly approve of; ample time given to complete it. Of course, as students move up to secondary their homework load does inevitably increase.

Class sizes are usually no bigger than twenty and with just one class group per year strong relationships are formed both between students and with teachers. Teachers speak about how much happier they are at this school compared with other British schools in Madrid. Most are very settled in Madrid, many are married to a Spaniard, which of course helps to avoid a high rotation of teachers. Those with children will, like Jenny, have them in the school.

IGSCE subject offering is somewhat reduced compared to other British schools, however students do have the opportunity to study Global Perspectives, a course that looks at global themes and issues and promotes an international outlook and cross-cultural awareness.

A level subject choices are split 50/50 between science and humanities. Being a small school, it only offers core studies. 2021 was the first A level cohort and included just six students. The school currently offers only A levels which might become a little problematic as Brexit looms large over the validity of these for entry into European universities. This is a common concern amongst parents of older students at the school and will remain so until a final decision has been made by British and European governments.

Learning support and SEN

The school prides itself on being an inclusive school. Indeed, Jenny’s own sister uses a wheelchair and there is no doubt that this is one of the driving elements around Jenny’s determination to include all children in the school.

Parents glowing in praise about the school’s support system and excellent communication with parents. One parent even positively commenting about meeting with both Jenny, the head, and the SEN co-ordinator.

Children with milder learning difficulties eg ADHD, dyslexia can be supported but the SEN department is extremely small and, while the school is flexible and will assist parents as much as possible, not all SEN can be catered for. Some children may seek additional support externally or engage a full-time one-to-one assistant within the classroom.

Language support

The teaching language in the international section is English; Swedish is the vehicular language in the Scandinavian section. Students that do not have adequate level of English must enrol in the school’s EAL programme.

Interestingly throughout the school’s history all students had to study Swedish regardless of the section that they were in. It was a source of contention amongst many families and most certainly was a turn off for some families when considering this school. Understandably the Swedish school board were eager to continue the tradition as really it is more about the culture than just the language but since 2020 it is no longer a requirement.

The arts and extracurricular

Music holds a very special place here and is considered a valid source of communication; helping to bring students together. Classes are split into two groups alternating between music and art / English and maths thus allowing very reduced groups (approx. 10 students) to learn how to play guitar, bass, drums and to sing. From year 4 students have woodwork and sewing class (old school sewing machines!).


In sport, football is king and the school team participates in a local league. Football also dominates the playground which is great news for all football fans but for non-players, perhaps not. Floor hockey is also popular, but more so amongst Scandinavians.

Ethos and heritage

On entering the school you get the impression that it’s a very small setting but it is actually deceptively bigger than it seems. It’s anything but a shiny modern building and this is surely why families choose this school. It feels a little quaint (in a positive way) and everybody is friendly and seems to know one another. Many of the families live nearby (very limited bus route could be a factor) and most likely are friends outside of school too. Families tend to specifically choose this school for its values rather than its location.

While classes may not get mixed up during primary years, the house system, introduced in 2019, has been very successful at mixing students of different ages and, of course, with different teachers.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Jenny’s long-term vision for the school is to create a school which focuses on the wellbeing of each student along with high academic results. Good grades are not the be all and end all; students’ mental wellbeing is very much a part of the school day.

The Scandinavian school is very proud to be the first school in Spain to implement the Kiva anti-bullying programme. It hails from Finland and is included weekly in the curriculum. It involves teaching students what bullying may involve and that by simply observing and saying nothing, you are in fact aiding the bully. It's an interesting concept and would be fantastic to see implemented in other schools in Madrid.

New students are the responsibility of their class tutor who will pair them up with a buddy for the first couple of weeks. However, if the class tutor is absent for health/personal reason the buddy system does tend to fall by the wayside, unless the substitute teacher is on top of things.

The school is proud of its students’ different nationalities and encourages students to speak about their own culture and learn about others. International week, hosted annually, gives students an opportunity to learn more about their classmate’s country.

Pupils and parents

The majority of the students at this school are Spanish or dual nationality. There are Scandinavian students in both sections and the school is quite popular with Dutch families. At drop off in the mornings there is quite an array of cars (most parked horrendously!) and a mix of working parents, nannies, or stay-at-home parents doing drop off.

An active parents’ association organizes fundraising events and meets with management to share ideas. Families who choose this school are looking for something more than just academics and consider the overall development of their child to be equally important.

Although an international school, Spanish is still the dominant language in the playground.

Money matters

The school is owned by several Swedish families and the school board (all Swedish) is elected on an annual basis. The board is responsible for long term strategy and budget etc. Each class elects a parent representative who meet regularly with Jenny or Johana (deputy head) to share ideas or being more realistic, minor grievances.

The high tuition fees mean that it is not within reach of most local families yet considering that it is La Moraleja (Madrid’s answer to Beverly Hills) nor is it seen as one of the most expensive international schools in the area.

The last word

The Scandinavian school will suit families who are a bit tired of mainstream teaching methods and are looking for something a little different and are more focused on their child's overall wellbeing. It will not suit families who want fancy buildings with screens everywhere.

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