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US-Curriculum Schools in Barcelona

US-Curriculum Schools in Barcelona
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Among the many choices of international school in Barcelona are those which follow the American curriculum. Why choose an American School?

There are nearly four thousand US Citizens living in Barcelona, according to official statistics. Whether here permanently or not, many will choose a US-Curriculum School for their children’s education. Plenty of non-Americans choose American schools too.

What do you need to know about American schools?

First the bad news – you will need very deep pockets. The two most expensive schools in Barcelona are US curriculum schools. For more on fees see here.

On a more positive note, the teaching methodology is generally more progressive than Spanish and Catalan public schools, where traditional methodology still predominates. At the American-style schools you’ll generally find a greater emphasis on things like critical thinking, creativity and autonomous learning than you would find in many schools in Spain, whether public or private.

Pupils will graduate with the American High School Diploma, and some schools also offer the International Baccalaurate Diploma Programme (IBDP). The IBDP can be accredited by the Spanish education authorities fairly easily, which is necessary for students who wish to go on to a public university in Spain. Students graduating with only American High School Diploma would need some additional classes (Spanish and Catalan language and history) in order to get their qualifications accredited. However, it’s probably safe to assume that most students at the American schools will go on to university abroad, where accreditation will not be an issue.  For more about curriculums in Barcelona, see here.

The American schools have a much higher proportion of pupils from international families (often more than 50%) than other international schools in Barcelona. Many if not all teachers will be native English speakers – not always the case in other international schools. This means the standards of English will be very good and English will be more likely to be the language of the playground – an advantage or disadvantage depending on your family’s needs.

The Schools

There are three US Curriculum Schools in the Barcelona area. A fourth school allows students to obtain the American High School diploma (mostly via online classes) as part of a sports programme:

 The American School of Barcelona

Carrer de Jaume Balmes, 7, 08950 Esplugues de Llobregat, Barcelona. Tel: + 34 93 371 4016

One of the big hitters in the leagues of international schools in Barcelona, the American School of Barcelona (or ASB) caters for children between 3 and 18 years of age. They deliver an American Curriculum from pre-school (PK3) right through to 12th Grade. All graduating students leave with the American High School Diploma and most also choose the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) in the final two years. The school no longer offers the Spanish Bachillerato.

You don’t have to be American to go there, but priority is given to US families and native English speakers, among other criteria. Above third grade, an advanced standard of written and spoken English is required. A child’s potential to achieve academically at the school will also be taken into consideration, especially at higher levels. According to the school website, there are student from over 50 nationalities at ASB. Approximately 20% are North American, 35% are Spanish, and 45% are from other countries. Students don’t wear a uniform (except for sports).

Core academic subjects are taught in English, with a complementary Spanish and Catalan programme emphasising language, literature, and history. French is offered as an after-school activity through a partnership with the Institut Français de Barcelone. The IDBP is offered in English, but students can incorporate self-study in their native languages as part of the programme.

The School boasts a large, airy campus of the kind rarely found in Barcelona. Elevated above Espluges de Llobregat with views of the Mediterranean and the city below, students enjoy spacious, modern facilities, including a new library and media centre and large outdoor playing fields and courts. Walking around the large campus certainly gives the feeling of an elite school. The downside is it’s tricky to get to by public transport, although there are a few buses. The school does run a school bus service to central Barcelona, Sitges and Sant Cugat.

Unsurprisingly, the fees are among the most expensive in Barcelona. The hefty, one-time admission makes the first year particularly painful, although there are discounts for subsequent siblings enrolled in the school. For comparison purposes, the first year of your first child entering 7th grade (12-13 years) would set you back approximately €22,500 (not including optional fees like food and the school bus). For more information on Barcelona school fees, see here.

For admissions speak to Alison Carollo or Samara Cogolludo admissions@asbarcelona.com Tel: + 34 93 371 4016

The American School of Barcelona
The American School of Barcelona

Benjamin Franklin International School

Carrer de Martorell i Peña, 9, 08017 Barcelona. Tel: 934 34 23 80

At the top end of the neighbourhood of Sarriá is Benjamin Franklin International School, which caters for children from 3 to 18 years old (PK3 – 12th Grade).

The curriculum is American, with all graduating students earning the American High School Diploma. In addition, the school offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) in English (or the bilingual diploma with Spanish). The school no longer offers the Spanish Bachillerato diploma.

The student mix is very international, with around 25% from the United States, 30% local Spanish/Catalan and the remaining 45% from other nationalities. The main language of instruction is English at all levels. Spanish is introduced from age 5, and students can either take it as a foreign language or follow the Spanish National Curriculum Spanish course and depending their native language. Students who hold only Spanish passports are obliged (by the local education authorities) to take Catalan. French is offered as a foreign language option for older pupils.

Young children can enter the school with no English but from 3rd Grade (8-9 years old) a good standard of English will be required.

The methodology is described as hands-on, enquiry-based learning. The school has a comprehensive robotics programme beginning with Lego and building up until students are making and programming their own creations. A new “maker space” has also been created with all kinds of equipment like a laser cutter, a sewing machine and even a 3-D printer, where students create an object themselves from design to finished product.

There are two school bus routes to and from central Barcelona, and one to and from Sant Cugat.

The school fees are at the higher end of the scale in Barcelona. As with most private schools, there is a one-off admission charge to enter the school. For comparison purposes, the first year of your first child entering 7th grade (12-13 years) would cost approximately €20,500 (not including optional fees like food and the school bus). For more information on Barcelona school fees, see here.

For admissions contact Serena Washburn serenaw@bfischool.org Tel: 93 434 2380 ext. 4

ES International School

km 191, C-31, 08820 El Prat de Llobregat, Barcelona. Tel: 934 79 16 11

ES International School is a small American School of around 120 students located in El Prat de Llobregat near Barcelona Airport. It caters for pupils 6-18 years old from US first to twelfth grades.

The school is one of two owned by the company (the other is in Florida in the US). The curriculum is American and taught entirely in English. All students graduate with the American High School Diploma and the school also offers some Advanced Placement (AP) classes and SAT preparation. Students who wish to go to University in Spain can have their qualifications accredited by the local authorities by taking some additional classes in Spanish and Catalan language and history.

Like other American schools, the teaching methodology oriented towards enquiry-based learning and critical thinking. The school has a bring-your-own-device programme and most books are electronic.

The student mix is very international with only around 15-20% of students coming from local families. Another 20% or so are from American or British families and the rest from of a total of 41 different nationalities at the school. Unusually for Barcelona there is a residence where some students live.

The main point of differentiation for ES International School is its focus on sport. It is affiliated with Academia Sanchez-Casal, a tennis academy, and located on the same campus. Around 80% of students take tennis as their specialist subject, but other options are available, such as water polo, basketball, and even equestrian sports. Assistance is given to pupils aiming to obtain an athletic scholarship to university in the United States. Students who do not wish to take a specialist sport can opt instead for an hour a day of general physical education.

The grounds and facilities are exceptionally good by Barcelona standards. Being located within the Academia Sanchez-Casal, students have access to world-class tennis facilities along with a gym and physiotherapy services. There is also an outdoor pool, a science lab and plenty of green space. The school runs several bus routes into Barcelona and to nearby Castelldefels.

Fees are a little less painful than the other two main US curriculum schools. As with the other schools, there is a one-time admission charge plus annual tuition. On top of that you will either pay for the specialist sports programme (costs vary) or the general physical education programme (compulsory if not specialist sports programme is taken). For comparison purposes, the first year of your first child entering 7th grade (12-13 years) would come to around €15,300 (not including optional fees like the school bus). For more information about Barcelona school fees, see here.

For admissions contact Carlos Lizardi clizardi@es-school.com Tel: 93 479 1611

ES School La Masia Building
The grounds at ES School

European International School Sant Cugat

Avinguda del Pla del Vinyet, 110, 08172 Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona. Tel: 935 89 84 20

Europa, as the name suggests, is not an American school. Nevertheless, some students are able to obtain the American High School diploma via the University of Nebraska as part of the athletes’ programme. For more details see here or contact the school.  Europa school will be covered in more detail in a future post.


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