Tenerife Tales
An Ex Pat´s Life On A Rock In The Atlantic by Sue Havenhand

The Minefield that is Schooling in Tenerife

How time flies – we are over half way through the school year aready, so I thought I would share with you three very different opinions on schooling here in Tenerife. It can be a bit of a minefield, and for some reason there will always be someone ready to tell you that you have made the wrong choice. Personally I would never be so rude, but there are plenty here who will foist their unsolicited opinions on you and have you wondering if you made the right choice. Don’t listen! At the end of the day if you have looked at all the options and found one which suits your child, then stick with it, and tell the rest to mind their own business. That said, here are the options you have, comments from friends of mine who have gone down that route, and their reasons why.

 1) Spanish State School. Hours 8.30am – 1.30pm then lunch, if required until 2.45pm

Cost : tuition is free, books cost around €200 per year, and meals are provided at a nominal fee, which is means tested.

The Mum of my 10 year old son´s best friend says :- “My son was 3 years old when we moved to Tenerife. I felt it was a big move for him and I wanted him to settle in as quickly as possible so I put him in an English School. After 18 months it was clear we were happy in Tenerife and were here to stay. I decided he needed to mix with more Spanish children and I wanted him to learn their culture, so I enrolled him in the local state school. He settled quickly and within 6 months he was speaking, reading and writing Spanish fluently. I find the Spanish Education no problem for him and his end of term reports were excellent. He has 2 English lessons per week, which I re-enforce at home, this is neither a problem nor chore”

 2) Spanish Private School. Hours 9.30am – 1pm, 3pm – 5pm Cost – increases with age but its approximately €200 per month (for 10 months of the year) at primary school age which includes a three course lunch. www.lutherking.com

My neighbour, who has 2 children aged 9 and 11 says :-“It was always our intention to be here for the long haul and we were keen for our children to be educated in the Spanish system. I was told that discipline at Luther King School was a high priority, and that was the deciding factor for us. I believe that through respect and discipline comes learning, and the pupils of Luther King have the utmost respect for their teachers. The class sizes are quite large (approx 30) but the teachers have total control over the pupils and will physically remove an unruly pupil rather than let them disrupt the class. The pass rates are high, and the children can progress into the Spanish University system. They are also taught English, and my children are now fluent in both languages. On the down side, the days are very long, and then there is often a pile of homework, which I feel is too much at times, but the children seem to cope with it. On the whole though, I still believe this was the right decision for us and will stick with it”

 3) English Private School Hours 9am – 3.45pm Cost from €1025 – €1771 per term (three terms per year) depending on age www.wingateschool.com

Alfie, now 10, was born here, and we actually were offered a place for him at Luther King when he was just 2 years, 6 months, as they have a nursery. However, I felt the days were too long, and even though he could have just done half days, there was no reduction in cost which I felt was rather inflexible. We therefore put him in the nursery section of the English Educational Centre, with the intention of returning to Luther King when he was a little older. However, he settled so well we felt it wrong to move him so we decided to stick with the English route. We have never looked back. He spent 4 years there before moving on to Wingate School where he can stay until he is 18 if he wishes. The standard of education is excellent, and like Luther King, strong traditional values and respect are taught to the children throughout. I just read today in another newspaper of a young man who was educated first at the EEC, then Wingate, went onto sit A Levels in England and has just graduated from Liverpool University with a combined majors B.A. Hons.Degree . So it’s good to know the system works. If we ever decide to move back to the UK, Alfie will slot straight into school, and carry on where he left off here. Lastly, because Alfie was born here, it is important to me for him to be essentially an English boy. I want him to learn English history and never to forget that English blood flows through his veins. I don’t worry too much about the fact that he isn’t fluent in Spanish at the moment as that can be taught, and learned separately.

 So, should you decide to move here with your children, whatever choice you make I’m sure it will be the right decision for you, and I hope the above views have given you food for thought. At the end of the day what suits one child will not suit another, and if we can all look back in 10 years time and say hand on heart that we did the right thing, then that’s all that counts. Happy Schooling!!!


2 Responses to “The Minefield that is Schooling in Tenerife”

  1. Well done Sue. You are right it is a very contentious subject here and there is no “right” or “wrong”. Parents must do what they feel is right.

    A lovely, unbiased piece of writing.

  2. Thanks, a very comprehensive piece allowing me to understand the system.

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