Navigating the Best Public and Private International Schools in Marbella

We recognise the importance of securing the best top-tier schools for your family. Navigating the array of private, international, and bilingual schools in the Marbella area can be daunting. Let us help you navigate the best school options in Marbella by giving you an overview of the system and schools in the area.

Father playing with children at home

Introduction to the Spanish Educational System

Before delving into the range of schooling options, grasping the Spanish educational framework is essential. The Spanish school system commences with Guardería (daycare) for children below three years old, to Infantil for ages 3-5, Primaria for children aged 6-11, and then Secondaria (often called SEO) for youth aged 12-16. If the student chooses to continue, they go to Instituto for the final two years, where they undergo Baccalaureate and Selectividad exams if they want to enter university. For public schools, everyone born in the same calendar year starts infant school at the same time, that is September of the year in which they turn 3, and primary school in the year they turn 6, irrespective of when their birthday is. School enrollment and attendance are compulsory for primary and secondary students, and homeschooling is not recognised in Spain.

Most international schools follow alternative curricula suited to their cultural ties, such as the International Baccalaureate and many also offer Cambridge examinations. Most of these private schools cater to all ages between 3-18 years old in one school, although perhaps split into two or more campuses. Often excelling academically, offering a higher level of languages and providing a holistic ethos, private schools allow you to choose the language and values that best suit your family.

Public schools in Andalucía are allocated based on a zone-based points system that sums where you live, work and other factors to prioritise students for each school. The most important factors are where you are registered as living (empadronamiento) and in which school siblings are already enrolled. New enrolment applications are only accepted in March and April unless you have just moved from another local government area, in which you can apply once you are registered with the town hall. All local public schools are prefixed with CEIP in Andalucía, and generally provide a quality Spanish education with English as a secondary language.

Boys training for soccer in uniform, in a field surrounded by trees

Public Schools in Marbella

Areas such as East Marbella only have one public school option; CEIP Pinolivo is for Infantil, which is connected with CEIP Platero for Primaria, both reputable schools that apply some aspects of Montessori philosophy in a leafy environment. Since the population of the area that pertains to these schools is constantly growing (the area between Bello Horizontal and Cabopino/Artola), entry to these schools is competitive and often comes down to a lottery; otherwise, your child will be allocated to one of the public schools located around Marbella Centre.  These are CEIP Gil Muñíz, CEIP María Auxiliadora, CEIP Los Olivos, CEIP Valdeolletas, CEIP Juan Ramón Jiménez, CEIP Antonio Machado and CEIP Vicente Aleixandre – many of which are also have excellent reputations.

Of the public schools in Marbella, it is important to note that CEIP Valdeolletas is the only Spanish English bilingual public school in the region, and CEIP Vicente Aleixandre is the only French Spanish bilingual option – both located around the centre of Marbella. There is also a public school in La Cala de Mijas which serves the areas east of Cabopino, as well as one in Benahavís and various in Estepona. While Spanish public schools follow a state-based curriculum, individual schools customise the subjects and the cultural or sporting activities offered, so speaking with the secretary about annual events and extracurricular activities is a good idea to get an idea of whether the school suits your values.

Private Schools in Central Marbella and Nueva Andalucía areas

Aloha College, Nueva Andalucía 

Situated in the affluent Aloha golf area, this well-respected private school provides a British international education run by a not-for-profit foundation. Providing a comprehensive British and Spanish curriculum for students aged 3 to 18, Aloha College is renowned for its nurturing ethos, sporting activities and academic rigour. Spanning expansive grounds, the school offers state-of-the-art sporting facilities, including basketball and football fields, and operates convenient bus routes that connect it Fuengirola and Estepona.

École Française Internationale Marbella (The French School), Marbella

Opened only a few years ago, the French School enriches Marbella’s educational landscape with its commitment to quality French education. Embracing a unique ‘triangulation approach,’ the school delivers all French, Spanish, and English subjects, fostering multiculturalism and critical thinking from kindergarten to primary school.

Svenska Skolan Marbella (The Swedish School), Nueva Andalucía

Located in the heart of Nueva Andalucía, the Swedish School of Marbella offers a comprehensive Swedish, English, and Spanish curriculum. Embracing a Swedish approach to education, the school provides children from age three to middle school with a culturally rich and academically stimulating environment, with a new program offering Cambridge guidance.

Swans International School, El Capricho and Sierra Blanca

Set in the mountains above Marbella in the prestigious neighbourhood of Sierra Blanca, Swans International School is known for its high academic excellence. Offering a quality British education to primary and high school students, Swans International School emphasises linguistic proficiency with three levels of Spanish classes and an extensive International Baccalaureate program. The school’s commitment to holistic development is exemplified through high-level extracurricular activities and the esteemed Duke of Edinburgh award, and it is one of the most exclusive schools in Marbella.

Young children doing craft in a school environment

Private Schools in Marbella East and Elviria areas

Bilingual School Las Chapas / Ecos, Las Chapas and La Mairena

Divided into two campuses, Bilingual School Las Chapas for girls and Ecos in La Mairena for boys offer a Christian-centered education in English and Spanish. With a focus on the International Baccalaureate program and Christian values, and offering Cambridge examinations, these schools nurture students’ intellectual and spiritual growth and have won awards for being Spain´s top fifteen schools in 2014.

Colegio Alborán, Ricmar

Set in the countryside in the Elviria Costabella area, Colegio Alborán offers nature-based bilingual education in a green environment that houses animals such as rabbits and horses. Embracing Spanish as the primary language with English and French as secondary languages, the school fosters a nurturing environment grounded in nature, creativity, and respect. This school won state awards for educational excellence in 2016 and offers discounts to multiple children.

Deutsche Schule Málaga (The German School), La Mairena

Perched in the picturesque La Mairena mountain, the German School of Málaga delivers a bilingual education in German and Spanish from infancy. With English and French introduced at the high school level, the school equips students with proficiency in four languages and offers diverse sporting activities, including football, tennis, and basketball.

English International College (EIC), El Rosario

Located next to the A7 in the Costabella area, the English International College (EIC) is known for offering premium British educational excellence in Marbella. Adhering to the UK National Curriculum adapted to Spanish requirements, EIC prioritises holistic education and community cooperation. With a focus on fostering leadership, problem-solving, and teamwork skills, the school offers a wealth of sporting and cultural opportunities alongside academic pursuits. It is one of the more expensive options in the area and is very highly regarded.

Saint Anthony’s College, Mijas Costa

Saint Anthony’s College offers British Christian education, set in the hills of Mijas Costa. Catering to students aged 3 to 18, the school combines the British National Curriculum with Spanish ESO and Bachillerate, fostering a nurturing environment where learning flourishes.

Teenage students working together with laptop at school

Private Schools in Marbella West and San Pedro Areas

Atlas American School of Malaga

Opened in 2022, Atlas is the first school to follow the American curriculum in the region. Serving students from K1 through to the end of high school, it offers a comprehensive and consistent educational journey that aims to focus on nurturing intellectual, emotional growth and moral development through diverse educational programs and extracurricular activities. This includes participating in sports and other activities as a part of one of the shark-themed school teams: Blue, Thresher, Mako, or Hammerhead.

Calpe School, San Pedro de Alcántara

Offering infant and primary education, Calpe School offers both the British and Spanish curriculum to children aged 3 to 11. Embracing a nurturing environment where thinking and learning flourish, the school instils values of curiosity, kindness, and resilience.

Colegio San Jose, Guadalmina, Estepona

Renowned for its bilingual education and extensive facilities, Colegio San Jose offers Spanish and International Baccalaureate programs for students aged 3 to 18. The school focuses on personal development and ethical values and cultivates a supportive academic and personal growth environment.

Colegio Saint George, San Pedro de Alcántara

Located in the heart of San Pedro de Alcántara, Colegio Saint George offers the British and Spanish curriculum to children aged 3 to 8. With a warm and nurturing atmosphere, including a swimming pool and vegetable garden, the school promotes physical, intellectual, and emotional development, laying the foundation for lifelong learning.

International Montessori School – Casa del Mar, San Pedro de Alcántara

Located in San Pedro de Alcántara, the Montessori School embraces the renowned Montessori method to nurture children’s learning journey. With an emphasis on individualised learning plans and outdoor exploration, the school fosters critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity from ages 18 months to 12 years.

Laude San Pedro International College, San Pedro de Alcántara

Situated in San Pedro de Alcántara, Laude San Pedro International College offers a prestigious British curriculum alongside Spanish equivalents. Offering exceptional sports and technological facilities, the school instils values of loyalty, determination, and empathy, empowering students to pursue their dreams confidently.

Mont 21, San Pedro de Alcántara

Combining Montessori philosophy with the British National Curriculum, Mont 21 provides a holistic educational experience for children aged 3 to 11. With a focus on individualised learning plans and outdoor connections, the school fosters independence, self-confidence, and a lifelong love of learning.

 

Young girls doing yoga in uniforms

Private Schools in the Benahavís area

Colegio Atalaya

Atalaya College, is a bilingual educational facility that offers infant, primary, secondary, and senior classes to young people in Estepona, which is close to Benahavís. This well-respected school combines the best aspects of Spanish and English learning while incorporating a modern methodology to allow students to develop to their full potential within a healthy, safe, and happy environment.

Creators International School

Due to open in September 2024, this will be the first tech-focused school in Málaga and the Costa del Sol.  Aiming to spark a deep interest in technology and innovation, the school will offer a British curriculum centred on STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math for children aged between 3 and 16—with a special emphasis on maths, physics, and computer sciences. 

Deciding on the best school for you in Marbella

No matter where you live around Marbella or Benahavís, there are various exceptional private school options tailored to serve the rich cultural representations of residents, allowing you to choose the school that suits your family values and educational objectives.

Whether you are looking at private, public, or concertato schools around Marbella or the Costa del Sol area, the important thing is to talk to the secretariat (office), inform yourself on how enrolment in that particular school works, and put your names down on the waitlist early- because they can often be long.

As a first point of contact, the office staff will orient you to how the school works and give you an idea of whether it will suit our family. We encourage you to conduct thorough research, engage with the school communities, and schedule visits at various schools to ensure an informed decision that aligns with your family’s aspirations and work out which is the best private or public school for your family in and around Marbella.

Moving to Marbella

If you are considering moving to or buying a home in or around Marbella, Estepona, Benahavís, Nueva Andalucía, Elviria or Sotogrande area, we would be happy to help and share our insights into this beautiful region.

Beautiful terrace and pool with panoramic views in El Paraíso, Benahavís
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