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Finding the right Mallorcan school for your childMay 23, 2024

For the past few weeks, like thousands of other parents of children on the island, my husband and I have been making sure we find the right Mallorcan school in the public system for my daughter. 

Getting your child into the school you want can seem a bit challenging at first, even if your Spanish is good. Take a look at this website and you’ll see why. But there are unique advantages to educating your child in the public system rather than privately at an international school so it’s worth persevering.

 

Navigating the system

The official time for enrolling in a Mallorcan school is now. But you can still register your child at a school up until the beginning of the academic year and even after it has started.

Remember though that the education authority is closed in August.

Whether there are places at the school of your choice comes down to how popular it is. If there are places, you must make sure your child is officially registered as a resident of Mallorca.

Given that your child is eligible to attend school on the island, there’s a point system that covers things like if you live in the neighbourhood of the school, if any of your children already go to that school, whether you’re a single parent and so on.

We live in Sóller. To find the right preschool for my daughter, we visited local schools, chatted with other parents in the playgrounds, parks and on the beach. We went to the schools themselves and spoke to teachers. Some schools were more open and friendly than others. We joined WhatsApp and Facebook groups like this one which were really helpful.

Fun and games at a Mallorcan school

 

Going to school in Deià

Many of you reading this post will either have come to live in Deià or are thinking about making a new life in the village. The village has its own school. The children of Jana and cycling guru Mark Reynes, whose family have lived in Deià for generations, go to Deià school.

Jana has three children at the school. Her youngest child is four years old and in infantil, the second youngest is seven and in the second grade and the oldest is nine and in fourth grade.

The school begins with preschool at three years old and runs until sixth grade, when children are 12. Including preschool, there are around 30 to 35 children in Deià school so it’s nice and small. Even though the school is so small, Jana had no problem enrolling her children.

Jana told me, ‘I really like that the school is so small. It means that all the families know each other, and the children feel like one big group in which the older kids take care of the young ones.’

For Jana, the fact that the school, like the village itself, is international is ‘really cool’. There are children in the school from England, Ukraine, Italy, Argentina, Brazil and other countries so Jana’s children are, she says, ‘getting to know different cultures from a really early age’.

To find out more about educating your child in Deià, go to the education page of the Ajuntmant de Deià website or pop into the school.

 

The advantages of educating your child at the right Mallorcan school

My daughter  is just beginning her education in Mallorca. My Danish colleague Andreas’s daughter has been enrolled at Colegio Sagrado Corazón school in Palma since she was three. She’s now five.

Andreas shared his experience of being the parent of a child in the Mallorcan public education system with me.

His daughter’s school is a concertado. These are semi-private schools subsidised by the Spanish government. Although they’re subject to certain government conditions such as the number of students they can take in, they’re relatively free to manage themselves. Almost all concertados are Catholic or otherwise religious.

Andreas and his daughter’s mother chose Colegio Sagrado Corazón because, although it’s a Catholic school, they were told it had been modernised. His daughter started at the school at three years old. As Andreas told me, ‘If you want to make sure your child goes to the concertado of your choice, your child has to go to preschool there. My daughter will stay until ninth grade at least.’

Collegi Sacrat Cor, Palma

Religion and good causes

Although Andreas and his daughter’s mother are fiercely atheist, he tells me that the fact that the school is Catholic isn’t a problem. ‘The children have a reflection of the day based on Christian Catholic values, but we can align with the way it’s translated. Every year the school collects money for good causes. There are religious parties, processions, and celebrations on key dates throughout the year, but I feel that’s just a reflection of Spanish society. They do those things more here. Ultimately, it feels like a modern school so if they sing a song about the Virgin Mary sometimes, I’m fine with it. As long as they’re not being told what to believe.’

Andreas also has no problem with the fact that the school emphasises discipline. ‘I like the way they teach the children to follow orders, to be responsible for their things and how to behave towards a teacher. Twice a week, from the age of four, they do an hour of personal work which involves completing five tasks and they’re not allowed to talk. No-one makes a sound. It’s impressive. It’s not about fear, it’s to do with learning responsibility.’

 

Catalan and connecting

One of the issues foreign parents have with finding the right school in Mallorca is around Catalan being the official language of education. This can be a bit frustrating as Andreas has to ask someone to translate for him, but he appreciates the way asking for help has connected him with other parents.

‘School notifications are sent out in WhatsApp groups,’ he explains. ‘People in the groups are very helpful. There’s always a representative who speaks to the teacher. I quickly found someone who could help me translate into Spanish. I think that, even if you didn’t speak Spanish, you’d soon find a support network.’

Being part of a network has helped Andreas make friends with other parents, most of whom are Spanish and Mallorcan. This has helped integrate him into Mallorcan society and culture.

‘At international schools, kids can come out speaking little Spanish and no Catalan. Your child will have no choice but to learn these languages in a Mallorca public school and that’s a good thing. It also means I’m learning as much about Mallorcan culture as my daughter. When there are celebrations like the Demonis in Palma, the school also celebrates. The children wear masks, read books and hear the stories.’

Collegi Sacrat Cor, Palma

 

Education and island life

Ever since I moved to Mallorca with my family, I’ve appreciated how good island life is for my daughter. I found the Mallorcan people to be open and welcoming. The pace of life in Sóller is perfect for a child. I love the fact that she can spend so much time outdoors, on the beach or in nature. 

For me, Andreas’s insights into the benefits of having a child at a Mallorcan public school completely make sense. The quality of her education obviously matters. But I’m very much looking forward to making friends with the parents of my daughter’s school friends. I’m excited about becoming more integrated into the local community and absorbing Mallorcan culture.

 

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