The Guide to Private Schools and Education in Marbella area

Pia Arrieta DM Properties
48 minutes to read

Marbella, the seaside jewel on Spain's Costa del Sol, has traditionally been recognised as a sun-soaked holiday destination. But there's a fascinating narrative unfolding that belies its glitzy reputation. Recent statistics indicate a noteworthy shift: an impressive 18% increase in homeowners under the age of 40 in the past five years. This isn't just a fleeting trend. Marbella is rapidly becoming a sought-after locale for younger families looking to establish a long-term home.

Aloha Collage

For families, the allure of Marbella goes beyond its coastal beauty and Andalucian charm. The region offers a robust, mature education system offering respected, established private schools with standards to rival the best schools in Spain and indeed, worldwide.

Fee-paying schools in Marbella have earned a reputation for academic excellence, with curricula that cater to the global citizen. International students from Marbella are frequently found securing places in respected universities worldwide, a testament to the quality of education they receive. In fact, the presence of a university in Marbella and the currently mooted institution in Estepona further underlines the region's commitment to education, offering avenues for higher studies right at home.

In Spain, children legally have to attend school from 6 – 16 years of age, however many primary schools start earlier. However, many private primary schools offer places from a much younger age. From the age of 3, children in Marbella may begin an educational journey tailored to nurture, challenge, and inspire. Schools here offer a continuum of learning that extends through to 18 years, ensuring that every phase of a child's academic development is catered to.

Beyond the confines of the classroom, Marbella offers a unique blend of security and community. The tight-knit nature of its school environment, combined with a vigilant approach to safety, ensures that families can enjoy tranquillity and peace of mind. It's a place where children receive top-tier education and grow within a community that cherishes and protects its young.

For those families considering Marbella as a potential home, we have put together our Guide to Private Education in Marbella, with the aim of uncovering how Marbella's educational landscape can offer unparalleled opportunities for your child's formative years and beyond. With an in-depth look at how to go about enrolling your child into your chosen school, we also take a closer look at what each establishment offers in terms of education and environment.

How to Matriculate in a Private School in Marbella

Matriculating might seem daunting if it’s your first time applying to a private school in Marbella, but the process can be smooth and straightforward with the right preparation. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate this important phase:

  1. Research and Selection:
    Start by researching the various private schools in Marbella to find one that aligns with your child's needs and your educational values. Consider factors like curriculum, languages studied, faculty qualifications, extracurricular offerings, and the school's overall ethos.
  2. Visit the School:
    While websites and brochures provide a wealth of information, there's no substitute for visiting a school in person. Arrange a tour, attend open days, or even shadow days where your child can experience a typical day in the school.
  3. Gather Essential Documents:
    • Proof of Age and Identity: Original or certified copy of the child's birth certificate and passport copies of the child and parents.
    • Proof of Residency: Your NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) and that of your child, which serves as proof of residency and legal status in Spain.
    • Academic Records: Transcripts, report cards, or certificates from the previous school(s) attended, possibly with a certified Spanish translation if they are in another language.
    • Vaccination records: Spanish schools require records of all childhood vaccinations at enrolment.
  4. Application Form:
    Obtain and fill out the school's application form. This might require information on your child's academic history, medical background, and other personal details. Some schools might also ask for a personal essay or statement from the student.
  5. Entrance Exams and Interviews:
    Depending on the school's criteria, your child might need to take an entrance exam or undergo an assessment. This is generally carried out to ascertain the child’s academic level, and level of the language in which they will be studying. Often, there will be an interview process involving both the parents and the student.
  6. Pay the Fees:
    Upon acceptance, you'll be required to pay an enrolment fee to secure your child's spot. Be aware of the fee structure, which might include tuition, materials, extracurriculars, and other miscellaneous charges.
  7. Orientation and Integration:
    Once matriculated, most schools offer an orientation day or integration program to help new students acclimatise to their new environment. This can be an invaluable way for both parents and students to settle in and understand the school's culture and expectations.

It’s always best to ensure all these steps are completed well in advance of any putative start date to ensure a place is assured, especially at some of the more requested schools.

While the process to matriculate in a Marbella private school requires diligence and preparation, it's a journey towards securing a world-class education for your child in one of Spain's most popular regions.

Understanding the Different Curricula Available in Marbella's Private Schools

Marbella's cosmopolitan character and its draw for international families have led its private schools to offer a diverse array of curricula to cater to a broad spectrum of educational expectations. Here's a closer look at the various courses of study available:

  • Spanish National Curriculum:
    • Overview: This is the official curriculum followed across Spain, providing students with a well-rounded education, emphasising linguistic skills in Spanish and in regional languages where appropriate.
    • Prospects: Students finishing this curriculum are well-prepared for the Spanish University entrance exams (Selectividad) and can pursue further studies in Spain or abroad.
  • British Curriculum:
    • Overview: Widely recognised for its rigorous standards, the British Curriculum typically leads students through the stages of Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Primary (KS1 & KS2), Secondary (KS3 & KS4), culminating in the GCSEs and A-levels.
    • Prospects: A-levels are recognised globally and open doors to universities in the UK and around the world.
  • International Baccalaureate (IB):
    • Overview: A globally recognised program, the IB offers the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP), and the Diploma Programme (DP). Emphasising critical thinking, intercultural understanding, and holistic education, the IB fosters global citizenship.
    • Prospects: The IB Diploma is a highly respected qualification, recognised by universities worldwide for its rigorous standards and emphasis on research and inquiry.
  • American Curriculum:
    • Overview: This curriculum typically covers a broad range of subjects with flexibility in choosing electives. The culmination is the awarding of the American High School Diploma, often complemented by Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
    • Prospects: Graduates are well-prepared for admission to American universities and colleges, with AP scores potentially granting college credit.
  • Bilingual and Multilingual Programs:
    • Overview: Given Marbella's international populace, many schools offer bilingual or multilingual education, ensuring students are proficient in Spanish and other languages like English, French, German and Swedish.
    • Prospects: Multilingualism equips students with a valuable skill for a globalised world, enhancing opportunities for higher education and employment.
  • Montessori and Other Alternative Approaches:
    • Overview: Some schools in Marbella adopt alternative pedagogical methods like the Montessori approach, emphasising self-directed learning, mixed-age classrooms, and hands-on experiences.
    • Prospects: These methods foster a love for learning and cultivate skills like critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity, which are valuable in any higher education or career path.

When considering a curriculum, it's essential to align with your child's needs, your family's values, and long-term educational or career goals. Each curriculum brings its strengths, methodologies, and perspectives. Your choice will play a pivotal role in shaping your child's academic journey in Marbella.

Choosing Your Private School in Marbella: Key Criteria to Consider

Marbella's reputation as an education hub is founded on its wide array of distinguished private schools. However, finding the right fit for your child among these esteemed institutions requires careful consideration. Here are some pivotal criteria to evaluate as you embark on this crucial decision-making journey:

  • Curriculum and Academic Offerings:
    • Does the school offer the Spanish national curriculum, International Baccalaureate (IB), British A-levels, American AP courses, or another recognised curriculum?
    • Do they offer language immersion programs or bilingual education, especially if preserving or cultivating language skills is essential for your family?
  • Accreditation and Affiliations:
    It's crucial to check if the school is accredited by recognised national or international education bodies. Accreditation ensures that the institution meets specific standards of quality and consistency.
  • Faculty Qualifications and Staff-to-Student Ratio:
    The qualifications and experience of the teaching staff play a pivotal role in delivering quality education. A favourable staff-to-student ratio can also indicate more personalised attention for students.
  • Extracurricular Activities:
    Schools should offer a range of extracurricular activity to cater to diverse interests, be it sports, arts, music, drama, or community service. These programs foster all-round development and can be an important adjunct to academic offerings.
  • Facilities and Infrastructure:
    Consider the school's physical environment. Are there advanced laboratories, libraries, sports facilities, and performing arts spaces? Modern, well-maintained facilities often suggest a school's commitment to providing a conducive learning environment.
  • School Ethos and Values:
    What values does the school emphasise? Are they in alignment with your family's values and what you want your child to absorb? The school's philosophy can shape the overall environment and the character development of its students.
  • Feedback and Reputation:
    Sometimes, the best insights come from current parents and students. Reach out to them, join community forums, or attend school events to gauge the overall satisfaction and reputation of the school within the community.
  • Location and Transport:
    Proximity to your residence is preferable, especially for younger students. Alternatively, if the school isn't nearby, do they offer reliable and safe transportation options?
  • Costs and Financial Assistance:
    Beyond tuition, consider other associated costs like uniforms, trips, and extracurricular fees. Some schools may also offer scholarships, bursaries, or other forms of financial aid for eligible students. Private schooling is a long-term commitment with augmenting costs, so this needs to be considered.
  • Support Services:
    Especially important if your child has specific learning needs or requires counselling services. How equipped is the school to support students' unique needs and challenges?

As you evaluate these criteria, remember that the best school is not just about prestige or popularity but about finding an institution that suits your child and where they can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. It's about finding a second home where they feel valued, challenged, and inspired.

So, if you’re about to embark on the journey of enrolling your child in a Marbella private school – where should you choose? Read on to discover what the establishments in this area have to offer.

Private Schools in Marbella Area

Primary Schools

Calpe School

Located in San Pedro de Alcántara, Calpe School is a close-knit educational community that prides itself on offering British education tailored to the individual needs of each student. With a belief in small class sizes to nurture every child's potential, the school provides an inclusive environment that promotes mutual respect, creativity, and a love for learning.

  • History: Founded in 1973, Calpe School has evolved into a prominent British international school in Marbella. Over the years, it has consistently stayed true to its ethos of ensuring that every student is recognised as an individual, fostering their unique talents and aspirations.
  • Trajectory: Calpe School is distinguished by its focus on providing tailored learning experiences. The institution offers a rich curriculum that promotes not just academic achievements but also personal, social, and emotional development. The school has always been ahead of its time, championing an individualistic approach to education that ensures students grow in confidence, resilience, and independence.
  • Languages Spoken and Taught: At Calpe School, English is the primary language of instruction, forming the backbone of the broad and balanced curriculum offered. The school emphasises the importance of Spanish, integrating the Spanish National Curriculum and offering Spanish as a Second Language. Additionally, French is introduced to students from Year 4 (Key Stage 2) onwards. This multilingual approach ensures that students not only become confident communicators in multiple languages but also have their varied educational needs catered to.
  • Age Groups: Calpe School provides a welcoming environment for children between the ages of 2 and 10. From the Early Years Foundation Stage to Key Stage 2, students at Calpe School benefit from an education that prioritises their individual needs, aspirations, and well-being.
  • Contact Information:

St. George's School

Located in the tranquil enclave of Cortijo Blanco, San Pedro Alcántara, St. George's School embodies the vision of its founders, Andrew and María José Mardlin. The school stands out for its high quality British education, while also prioritising the importance of the Spanish language.

  • History: Founded by Andrew and María José Mardlin in 1996, St. George's School began its educational journey with 45 students. The Mardlins envisioned a school that embraced the strengths of British education while also placing due emphasis on the Spanish language, serving children up to the age of 8.
  • Trajectory: Over the past two decades, the school has emerged as a benchmark for primary education in Marbella, owing to its commitment to both the British National Curriculum and adherence to the Spanish Education Law. This growth and reputation are supported by the dedicated academic and auxiliary staff who share the founders' philosophy.
  • Curriculum: St. George’s School offers an enriching curriculum tailored to each stage:
    • Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS): The curriculum emphasises seven areas of learning, ranging from communication and language to understanding the world, crafting a nurturing environment for the school's youngest members.
    • Primary: Up to Key Stage 2, Year 3, students are exposed to core subjects like English, Mathematics, and Science, under the British National Curriculum. Concurrently, Spanish studies are seamlessly integrated, aligning with the Spanish curriculum.
  • Languages Spoken and Taught: English is the primary medium of instruction, reflecting the British educational foundation. However, Spanish is also a significant aspect of the curriculum, in line with the founders' emphasis on bilingual education.
  • Age Groups: St. George’s School caters to children from ages 3 to 8, providing them with a solid academic foundation during their early educational years.
  • Contact Information:

Casa Del Mar Montessori

Situated just minutes away from Marbella to the north of San Pedro Alcántara, Casa Del Mar Montessori is an oasis of holistic education. With a stunning 5000 square metre campus surrounded by nature, this school provides an authentic Montessori education in a peaceful environment. The school's primary aim is to cultivate a love for learning, independence, and respect towards oneself, others, and the environment.

  • History: Casa Del Mar Montessori, set amidst a natural paradise, embraces the Montessori philosophy. The school's beautiful surroundings complement its ethos, which believes in respecting children as unique individuals who are active participants in their learning journey.
  • Trajectory: Steadfast in its mission, Casa Del Mar Montessori creates an environment where students are empowered to explore, think, and collaborate. Emphasising hands-on, experiential learning, the school is a beacon for those who value holistic development.
  • Facilities: The school's expansive grounds feature a vegetable garden, a chicken coop, fruit trees, and wide-open spaces, making learning truly immersive. The well-equipped classrooms cater to different age groups and are specially designed to adhere to Montessori principles, ensuring that students have an enriching learning experience.
  • Curriculum: Adhering to the Montessori method, the school offers:
    • Practical Life: Activities that build independence, concentration, and motor skills.
    • Sensorial: Engaging with materials that develop sensory perception and observation.
    • Mathematics: Hands-on experiences that form a solid foundation for mathematical concepts.
    • Language: Encouraging communication through reading, writing, and speaking.
    • Culture: An exploration of subjects like geography, biology, history, and science.
  • Languages Spoken and Taught: While English serves as the main medium of instruction, Spanish is seamlessly integrated, fostering bilingual proficiency among students.
  • Age Groups: The school welcomes children from ages 1 to 12, providing tailored Montessori experiences for each developmental stage.
  • Contact Information:

French International School of Marbella (EFIM)

The French International School of Marbella (EFIM) offers a high standard trilingual, innovative level of education. Established in 2021 to offer a blend of the best teaching methods, EFIM provides a nurturing environment for pupils aged 3 - 11 , fostering their happiness, well-being, and academic growth. The school's curriculum is designed to instil in students a desire to learn, an interest in the world around them, personal development, self-confidence, critical and creative thinking, ease of expression, and a strong digital and scientific culture. With a commitment to trilingualism, students at EFIM are adept in French, English, and Spanish, ensuring they are well-prepared for a globalised world.

  • History: This modern structure was opened in Sept 2021, and is recognised for its innovative approach to education and its commitment to fostering a positive, dynamic, and creative spirit in its students.
  • Trajectory: EFIM's trajectory is characterised by its unique teaching methods. The school emphasises well-being and happiness, ensuring students thrive both academically and personally.
  • Languages Spoken and Taught: At EFIM, trilingual education is a cornerstone. Students are taught in French, English, and Spanish, ensuring they become proficient communicators in all three languages.
  • Age Groups: Ages 3 – 11 First and Second Cycle of French curriculum.
  • Facilities: EFIM boasts a modern and innovative infrastructure, designed to foster a conducive learning environment. The school's spaces are bright, spacious, and adapted to the needs of the students. The classrooms are equipped with the latest technology, with outdoor spaces designed to promote physical activity and relaxation, with a playground, a garden, and shaded areas.
  • Contact Information:

Primary and Secondary Schools

International Educational Establishments

Aloha College Marbella

Located in the quiet, leafy suburb of Nueva Andalucía, Aloha College stands as a testament to excellence in British international education. Established in 1982, the school has grown to accommodate approximately 500 students, ranging from 3 to 18 years of age. With a generous campus of almost 30,000 m², Aloha College offers a diverse range of facilities tailored to meet the educational needs of its students. From specialised classrooms and science laboratories to a music studio and a performance hall, the institution ensures the holistic development of its pupils.

Aloha Collage, Nueva Andalucia, Marbella

Physical education is also a cornerstone of the curriculum, as the school's core values of Honesty, Respect, Effort, Care, and Resilience resonate in its commitment to fostering a nurturing environment where students can thrive academically and personally.

  • History:Since its inception in 1982, Aloha College has been at the forefront of British international education in Marbella. Over the years, it has earned a reputation for academic excellence and student development.
  • Trajectory:Aloha College's trajectory is marked by its unwavering commitment to providing a comprehensive education catering to the diverse needs of its student body. The school's curriculum, which encompasses the British National Curriculum, International Primary Curriculum, IGCSE, International Baccalaureate Diploma, and International A-Level programmes, is testament to this commitment.
  • Languages Spoken and Taught:English serves as the primary medium of instruction at Aloha College. However, in line with its international ethos, the school also places emphasis on multilingualism.
  • Age Groups:Aloha College offers education to students aged 3 to 18, spanning from Early Years to Sixth Form. The curriculum offered is the English National Curriculum until the age of 16, when the children take their IGCSE examinations with the Cambridge International Board. For the last two years, they offer the International Baccalaureate Programme, which they have offered since 1990, and A levels, offered since 2012.
  • Facilities:The school boasts an expansive campus equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. This includes specialised classrooms, science laboratories, a music studio, a FIFA-approved astroturf pitch, two all-purpose sports pitches and a brand new Arts & Sports Hall.
  • Contact Information:

Swans School International

Situated in the Sierra Blanca area of Marbella, Swans School International stands out as an extraordinary institution, dedicated to providing an exceptional learning experience. The school's enrichment program is a testament to its commitment to holistic development, offering students a plethora of activities ranging from sports and debate to theatre arts and the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh's International Award. These character-building experiences, outside the standard academic curriculum, ensure students not only excel academically but also develop essential life skills, fostering self-expression, teamwork, confidence, and self-esteem.
Swans school

  • History: Swans School International, established in 1971, has a rich legacy of providing quality education. Over the decades, it has grown and evolved, yet its core values, emphasising hard work and dedication, remain unchanged.
  • Trajectory: The school's trajectory is marked by its comprehensive academic approach. Swans School consistently achieves high grades at both GCSE and IB levels, rivalling some of the best students worldwide. Beyond academics, the school is renowned for its pastoral care, creating a family-like environment for both students and teachers, ensuring they are fully prepared for life beyond education.
  • Languages Spoken and Taught: The school follows the British educational system, with English being the primary language of instruction. Additionally, the school's curriculum integrates other languages, ensuring students are well-equipped for a multilingual global environment.
  • Age Groups: Swans School International caters to a wide age range:
    • Foundation Stage: Age 3 to 5 years
    • Primary School: Age 5 to 11 years
    • Secondary School: Age 11 to 16 years
    • Sixth Form: Age 16 to 18 years
  • Facilities: The school's state-of-the-art facilities support its diverse curriculum, ensuring students have access to the best resources for both academic and extracurricular activities.
  • Contact Information:

British International School of Marbella (BISM)

The British International School of Marbella (BISM) is more than just an academic institution. It's a vibrant hub of learning and community engagement, where students are encouraged to explore their passions in the creative and performing arts, sports, and community initiatives. The school boasts a rich arts program, with exceptionally strong departments in Music, Art, and Drama. Students have numerous opportunities to showcase their talents, be it through music performances in various styles, drama productions, or art exhibitions.

The school's sports program emphasises the importance of leading a healthy, active life. With facilities including an all-weather sports field, basketball court, indoor swimming pool, dance studio, and more, students are nurtured to excel in their chosen sports and understand the value of teamwork.

Beyond the arts and sports, BISM is deeply committed to community engagement. The school supports various local organisations, and both students and staff actively participate in events like the annual Winter and Summer Fairs, donation drives, and other charitable initiatives. Through these efforts, students learn the importance of giving back and making a positive impact in the wider world.

  • History:BISM is a part of The British Schools Foundation (BSF), a UK registered non-profit organisation. Since 2004, BSF has been at the forefront of establishing premier international schools worldwide, with BISM benefiting from this rich legacy.
  • Trajectory:Guided by Headteacher Dean Moore, BISM has emerged as a leading educational institution in Spain. The school's unique curriculum, combined with its emphasis on personal development, has seen many of its students achieve outstanding academic results and secure places in top universities.
  • Languages Spoken and Taught:English is the primary language of instruction at BISM. The curriculum also ensures students become proficient in both English and Spanish, reflecting the school's commitment to bilingualism.
  • Age Groups: BISM caters to students from the Early Years stage right through to Secondary, providing a seamless and comprehensive educational journey.
  • Contact Information:

English International College (EIC)

Nestled in Elviria, East Marbella, the English International College (EIC) stands as a beacon of academic excellence and student development. Established in 1962, the EIC offers a conducive environment for the British curriculum, catering to approximately 500 students aged 3 to 18 years. Over 50% of these students hail directly from the UK.

The campus is a blend of modernity and functionality, with 14 primary classrooms, specialised secondary suites, state-of-the-art science laboratories, a computer lab, a well-stocked library, and a music studio equipped with cutting-edge digital equipment and instruments. The school's hall, with a seating capacity of 200, serves as a vibrant space for performance art, theatre, dance, and art exhibitions, reflecting EIC's commitment to nurturing students' creative expression.

  • History: Founded in 1962, the English International College has consistently championed academic excellence, with its graduates being accepted into some of the world's top universities. Over the decades, the school has remained steadfast in its mission to nurture and encourage student talents across various fields.
  • Trajectory: The EIC's trajectory is marked by its dedication to ensuring that students are not only academically proficient but also well-rounded individuals. The school prides itself on fostering an environment where students are encouraged to be inquisitive, independent learners who are confident in expressing their ideas and opinions.
  • Languages Spoken and Taught: The primary language of instruction at the EIC is English. However, the school's curriculum and ethos promote multilingualism, preparing students for a globalised world.
  • Age Groups: The EIC caters to a diverse age range, offering education from the Primary School (ages 3-10) to the Secondary School (11-18 years). Qualifications attained are GCSEs and IGCSEs, with A Levels and IA Levels for university entrance at the end of Year 13.
  • Facilities: The EIC boasts state-of-the-art facilities, including specialised science labs, a computer lab, a comprehensive library, and a music studio. Physical education is an integral part of the curriculum, with facilities like a climbing wall, a learner pool, a competition-ready 25m swimming pool, an astroturf pitch, a sprung volleyball court, and two basketball courts.
  • Contact Information:

Laude San Pedro International College, Marbella

Situated in San Pedro de Alcántara, Marbella, Laude San Pedro International College offers a comprehensive educational journey for students aged 1 to 18 years. As an esteemed member of the International Schools Partnership (ISP), the school stands shoulder-to-shoulder with over 50 schools globally, all devoted to delivering unmatched learning experiences. The college seamlessly integrates both British and Spanish curricula, enhancing its global perspective, state-of-the-art facilities, and a staunch commitment to unlocking the unique potential in each student. The overarching aim is to provide an unparalleled education that readies students to make meaningful contributions in our rapidly changing world.

Laude sports hall, Marbella
  • History: Founded in 2004, the institution stands as a beacon of cultural diversity and global citizenship with students hailing from over 52 different nationalities.
  • Education: Laude San Pedro International College adopts a holistic education approach, encompassing the Early Years Foundation Stage, Primary, Secondary, and the Sixth Form:
    • Early Years: Tailored to nurture children's initial developmental stages with a spotlight on fostering communication, physical skills, and overall personal, social, and emotional growth. A space where the flames of curiosity and confidence are kindled.
    • Primary Years: This stage offers a broad and balanced curriculum that envelops subjects like Music, PE, Spanish, Art, and more. It champions inquiry-based learning, igniting both creativity and critical thinking.
    • Secondary: Beyond a mere academic landscape, this environment is sculpted to foster intellectual, emotional, and social development. The IGCSEs are a pivotal aspect, complemented by a focus on personal, social, and health education – reflecting the institution's 360-degree educational perspective.
    • Sixth Form: This transitional stage is structured to prep students for university and their subsequent future. It encompasses A-levels and vocational qualifications. Moreover, a robust pastoral system ensures emotional well-being is catered to.

    In addition to the British curriculum, the school also embraces the Spanish curriculum, preparing students for the Spanish university access exams, the 'Selectividad'.

  • Facilities: Laude San Pedro houses state-of-the-art facilities tailored to create a conducive learning atmosphere:
    • Specialised playgrounds catering to early years, primary, and secondary students.
    • A multi-purpose sports court coupled with an artificial turf football pitch.
    • Cutting-edge science labs, IT suites, and a library.
    • Dedicated spaces for music, drama, and a canteen serving a palette of global cuisines, mindful of varied dietary needs.
  • Languages Taught: Depending on the path of study, the core language of instruction is English, or Spanish, although there is a strong emphasis on bilingualism. Furthermore, students are introduced to French and German, aligning them with a multilingual global scenario.
  • Contact Information:

Atalaya International School

Located in Estepona, Spain, Atalaya International School is a contemporary educational institution, embodying innovation and excellence in education. The school’s modern facilities, spanning over 16,000m2, are meticulously crafted to foster a nurturing and stimulating learning environment. Atalaya’s educational ethos is deeply rooted in providing a multidisciplinary, holistic, and customisable learning experience, ensuring that each student’s educational journey is uniquely tailored to their aspirations and potentials.

  • History: Atalaya International School, a relatively modern establishment founded in 2014, has swiftly made a significant mark in the educational sector, recognised for its innovative approach and unwavering commitment to educational excellence.
  • Trajectory: The school’s trajectory is characterised by an approach that emphasises not only academic excellence but also a rounded development of students. The curriculum is enriched with values education, physical education, and the cultivation of healthy lifestyle habits including healthy menus prepared and cooked on the premises, preparing students to navigate the complexities of the modern world with resilience and integrity.
  • Languages Spoken and Taught: Atalaya’s curriculum is linguistically rich, offering robust programs in English, Spanish, and German, ensuring that students are well-prepared to thrive in a multilingual global society.
  • Age Groups: Atalaya provides a diverse and comprehensive educational journey, catering to students from Preschool Education to Primary Education, and extending to the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and Spanish Bachillerato. The school’s environment is safe and supportive, allowing students to flourish academically, physically, and socially.
  • Facilities: Atalaya’s state-of-the-art facilities include modern classrooms, expansive sports areas including a multi-sports hall and swimming pool, and dedicated creative spaces, ensuring that students have access to a diverse array of resources and opportunities to explore and enhance their talents and skills.
  • Contact Information:

Sotogrande International School

Situated in Cádiz province, Sotogrande International School (SIS) stands as a values-driven learning community deeply committed to fostering globally-minded students who strive to make a meaningful difference in the world.

By wholly integrating the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme across all educational stages, SIS offers a vibrant platform for dynamic, collaborative, and inspired learning. The school's ethos, as mirrored in the headmaster's message, underscores the importance of a nurturing environment that extends beyond the traditional academic sphere to equip students for a rapidly evolving international landscape.

  • History: Founded in 1978, Sotogrande International School has over four decades of heritage in providing world-class education. From its modest beginnings, the school has grown exponentially and now caters to over 1000 students from more than 50 nationalities. This vibrant, multicultural community is housed within a spacious 20-acre campus, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. The school's boarding house, Sotogrande International Boarding House, provides accommodation for more than 160 students, further enhancing its diverse and inclusive community.The school is committed to developing innovative, caring, and socially responsible individuals. Drawing inspiration from its values, which include respect, responsibility, integrity, passion, and excellence, SIS strives to provide an education that instills these ideals in its students, equipping them to be active contributors to the global community.
  • Education: SIS is dedicated to offering a comprehensive educational experience through the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme:
    • Primary Years Programme (PYP): For learners aged 3-11, the PYP adopts a transdisciplinary approach, emphasising active inquiry, participation, and the interconnected nature of academic subjects.
    • Middle Years Programme (MYP): Tailored for students aged 11-16, the MYP delivers a holistic educational experience, promoting intercultural understanding, effective communication, and a global perspective.
    • Diploma Programme (DP): Catering to students aged 16-19, the DP is rigorous and provides a solid foundation for university education and future endeavours.
    • Elite Sports: The school also offers an Elite Sports Programme. Customised for students with exceptional sporting talents, this programme ensures they receive top-tier education without compromising on their athletic training. SIS collaborates with several elite sports organisations to offer unparalleled support.
  • Facilities: SIS is nestled within an expansive 20-acre campus, featuring state-of-the-art facilities that cater to both academic and extracurricular needs. In addition to well-equipped classrooms, the campus boasts specialised facilities for arts, sports, and science. The Sotogrande International Boarding House offers a comfortable and modern space for over 160 students, ensuring a home-away-from-home experience
  • Contact Details:

Spanish Educational Establishments

Colegio San José

Located in San Pedro de Alcántara and Estepona, Colegio San José champions a long-standing tradition of excellence in education. With nearly two centuries under its belt, the institution operates two vibrant centres, offering students a fusion of tradition and modernity. Drawing inspiration from its Christian ethos, the school integrates values-based learning with its comprehensive academic programs, ensuring that students are not only scholastically prepared but also morally grounded.

Colegio san jose sede estepona
  • History: Colegio San José's profound legacy traces back to its foundation almost two centuries ago. The visionary behind this educational endeavour was D. Miguel Álvarez Bocanegra, born in Cadiz. His initial efforts in the educational sphere took place in Cañete la Real (Malaga). The vision of D. Miguel was to create an institution that would offer an integral education, based on the promotion of values, respect, and personal development.
  • Trajectory: Today, Colegio San José stands as a symbol of academic prowess in Estepona and San Pedro. Its commitment to high-quality education is evident in its diversified programs, ranging from Infant Education to Baccalaureate. With the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, the school not only offers an academically challenging environment but also cultivates inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young individuals.
  • Languages Spoken and Taught: The institution recognises the importance of multilingualism in today's world. Hence, aside from the predominant Spanish, students are exposed to English, French, and German. The school is also a preparation and examination centre for the Cambridge English Qualifications and Trinity College London. Moreover, curricular preparations are made available for official certification in the DELF tests set by the Alliance Française (France) and by the Goethe-Institut (Germany).
  • Age Groups: Catering to a wide age bracket, Colegio San José provides education from Infant stages up to the Baccalaureate level.
  • Facilities: The school boasts of modern and state-of-the-art facilities, ensuring that students have access to a conducive learning environment. From science labs, IT rooms, to expansive sports areas, the institution offers a myriad of amenities designed for holistic student development.
  • Contact Information

Colegio Alborán

Situated in East Marbella near Elviria, Colegio Alborán epitomises a harmonious blend of time-honoured values and innovative educational practices. With an unwavering commitment to values such as respect, effort, perseverance, discipline, and tolerance, the school not only promotes academic excellence but also places significant emphasis on personal and emotional growth. It's a school with a clear international vision, dedicated to the holistic development of students, and fostering a profound respect for cultural diversity. This blend of traditional ethos and contemporary methodologies renders Colegio Alborán a distinguished institution in Marbella.

  • History: Founded in 1997 by Mr. José Luis Cordero Gálvez, Colegio Alborán has, over the decades, firmly established its reputation as an institution that offers a top-class comprehensive education. The dedication to maintaining high educational standards and the emphasis on fostering individual talents have been the cornerstone of its success.
  • Trajectory: Colegio Alborán has always aspired to impart education that goes beyond conventional wisdom. By integrating pioneering pedagogical techniques and embracing technological advancements, the school has been successful in creating an environment that's conducive to multifaceted learning.
  • Languages Spoken and Taught: Spanish serves as the primary language of instruction at Colegio Alborán. However, given the school's international outlook, English holds a prominent position in the curriculum, ensuring students are well-equipped to engage with global communities.
  • Age Groups: Colegio Alborán offers a diverse educational landscape catering to students from the age of 3 all the way to 18. This range ensures a seamless educational journey, right from the foundational years to the threshold of university education.
  • Facilities: Spanning an impressive 40,000 square meters, the campus boasts state-of-the-art facilities that include science and computer laboratories, a library, a multi-purpose hall, an auditorium, and sports facilities. These amenities collectively provide a comprehensive learning experience, blending academic rigour with extracurricular engagement.
  • Contact Information:

Other International Educational Establishments

Svenska Skolan Marbella – The Swedish School Marbella

Situated in the beautiful environs of Marbella on the outskirts of Puerto Banús, The Swedish School Marbella has firmly established its reputation for providing quality Swedish education abroad. The institution has been a beacon of academic excellence, drawing upon the Swedish educational system's strengths, and blending them seamlessly with the vibrant culture and ambience of Spain's Costa del Sol.

Since its inception in 2003, the school has grown significantly, now catering to approximately 200 students. The institution offers preschool (ages 3-5) and primary education up to grade 6, following the Swedish curriculum. Additionally, students can study grades 7-9 via Sofia Distans and high school via Hermods, with the support of trained teachers throughout the school day. Svenska Skolan Marbella is one of only 15 schools approved by the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) and is also under the supervision of the Swedish School Inspection.

From 2023, the school has begun implementing the Cambridge model, allowing guardians to opt for an international education for their children from grade 7 up to high school level. The school's strengths lie in its 20 years of experience in Spain, a focus on well-being, and a blend of Swedish and Spanish traditions, with an international touch.

  • History: Founded in 2003, The Swedish School Marbella celebrates 20 years of educational excellence in 2023. Over these two decades, it has grown and evolved, continuously adapting to the changing educational landscape while staying true to its Swedish roots.
  • Trajectory: The school follows the Swedish curriculum, adapted to suit the international setting of Marbella. Fostering a love for learning, the institution offers a nurturing environment where students are encouraged to grow both academically and personally. The comprehensive educational journey ensures that students are well-prepared for their future, be it in Spain, Sweden, or elsewhere in the world.
  • Languages Spoken and Taught: The primary medium of instruction at The Swedish School Marbella is Swedish. However, given the school's international setting, English and Spanish also play significant roles in the curriculum.
  • Facilities: Prioritising the well-being of its students, the school provides nutritious meals that are a favourite among attendees. Physical education and recreational activities are enhanced by the school's expansive garden, 25-meter swimming pool, and an artificial turf pitch for football. Moreover, students can enjoy spacious play areas, complete with climbing trees and a sandbox. Its proximity to a large park and the beach further augments the school's appeal, ensuring that students are constantly in touch with nature.
  • Age Groups: The Swedish School Marbella caters to students aged 6 to 16, ensuring a comprehensive educational journey from primary to secondary levels.
  • Contact Information:

Deutsche Schule Málaga (DSM)

Nestled in the tranquil surroundings of Elviria, Marbella, DSM stands as a beacon of over a century of distinguished German education. Merging time-honoured German traditions with contemporary educational methodology, the school ensures students are academically and culturally prepared for an interconnected world.

  • History: Originating in 1898, DSM's legacy positions it among the most longstanding German schools abroad. Starting in Málaga, it transitioned across several sites before anchoring at its present expansive campus in Elviria, Marbella, in 1974. From its modest beginnings with 23 students, DSM has flourished, continually adjusting to changing educational needs while preserving its foundational ethos.
  • Trajectory: DSM champions German educational benchmarks, fostering an inclusive learning environment. Seamlessly interweaving the German educational structure with Spanish elements, it offers students an unparalleled academic experience, honouring their Spanish surroundings without diluting the rigour of German education. The school's holistic approach accentuates languages, sports, arts, and music, crafting multifaceted individuals.
  • Facilities and Infrastructure: DSM's modern Elviria campus epitomises its dedication to premier education. It boasts cutting-edge classrooms, dedicated spaces for music and art, a sports hall, swimming pools, and vast playgrounds. Moreover, students have a plethora of extracurricular activities, including:
    • Sports: From basketball and volleyball to tennis and athletics, the school provides diverse sports offerings.
    • Music and Dance: DSM encourages musical development, offering activities like choir, instrumental lessons, and dance.
    • Language Enrichment: Additional language courses, including English, aid students in broadening their linguistic abilities.
    • Arts and Crafts: Creative workshops help ignite students' artistic passions.
  • Languages Spoken and Taught: While German is the primary instructional language, Spanish is given significant emphasis due to the school's Spanish locale. English also holds considerable importance, fortifying students' linguistic capabilities in today's globalised setting.
  • Curriculum: DSM offers a blended curriculum, infusing the German school system with elements of Spanish education, prepping students for qualifications pertinent to both nations.
  • Age Groups: DSM caters to students from Kindergarten through Sekundarstufe II, guiding them through their foundational and transformative educational years.
  • Contact Information:

The American College in Spain

The American College in Spain (ACS) is the first North American High School in Andalusia to offer both the American High School Diploma and University programs. Serving as a bridge between the Spanish and American educational systems, ACS presents students with a unique opportunity to study the American education curriculum in Spain.

  • History: Founded as a pioneering institution introducing the region to the U.S. education system and curriculum. Its establishment has provided countless students with a seamless transition between Spanish and American education systems.
  • Educational Stages:
    • High School Diploma: The school offers the American High School program, allowing students to earn their American High School Diploma.
    • GED (General Education Diploma): This program enables students who have not completed high school to continue their studies in U.S. universities.
    • University Program: ACS offers the first two years of American university in Spain. After completing these two years, students transfer their credits to a North American university to finish their bachelor's degree.
  • Facilities and Extracurricular Activities: Sports Program: ACS has a diverse sports program that ranges from basketball to paddle tennis. This program emphasises the importance of physical activity, teamwork, and discipline.
  • Contact Details:

ATLAS American School of Malaga: An Overview

Situated in picturesque Selwo Hills, Estepona, newcomer ATLAS American School provides students with a genuine American educational experience infused with international elements. In a short span, ATLAS has risen to prominence in the realm of international education in the area.

Committed to serving the diverse needs of both local and international communities, ATLAS prioritises individualised learning and growth. The school seamlessly blends American educational standards with an intrinsic value for Spanish culture and language.

  • History: Though ATLAS is a recent addition to the educational landscape of Estepona, it's founded upon timeless educational virtues. Since its establishment, the institution has been dedicated to fostering an environment that spurs students' individual passions while promoting their overall development.
  • Curriculum: ATLAS follows a rigorous American curriculum complemented by Spanish language and cultural studies, ensuring students receive a globally relevant education. The curriculum is designed to foster critical thinking, creativity, and ethical awareness. The school is poised to obtain authorisation for introducing the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme for the 2022-23 academic year.Furthermore, ATLAS is taking leaps in academic innovation by introducing:
    • French Program: An intensive French curriculum initiated from Grade 5.
    • Entrepreneurship Initiative: Targeted for students aged 14 to 17, nurturing their entrepreneurial spirit.
    • High-performance Sports: Specialised programs in golf, tennis, and paddle tennis, all of which are synchronised with the school's timetable.
  • Academic Levels:
    • Early Childhood: Pre-K3, Pre-K4, Kindergarten.
    • Elementary School: Grades 1 to 5.
    • Middle School: Grades 6 to 8.
    • High School: Grades 9 to 12.
  • Facilities: The school boasts state-of-the-art facilities tailored to meet both the academic and extracurricular demands of its students. The modern infrastructure is designed to foster creativity, innovation, and individual exploration.
  • Atlas American School houses:
    • Modern and spacious classrooms.
    • High-quality science and computer labs.
    • Libraries filled with resources.
    • Sports facilities for football, basketball, and volleyball.
    • Dedicated areas for golf, tennis, and paddle tennis as part of their high-performance sports programs.
  • Contact Details:

Further Education

Marbella International University Centre (MIUC)

Marbella International University Centre (MIUC) provides an enriching learning environment tailored for an international experience. Celebrating diversity with students from over 60 nationalities, MIUC promotes a vibrant atmosphere where different global viewpoints are valued and celebrated.

  • History: Established in 2013, MIUC is dedicated to delivering an outward-looking academic experience. The institution holds a firm commitment to programmes that incorporate a blend of international and interdisciplinary content, designed to prepare students for their future careers.
  • Courses: MIUC offers a rich array of bachelor's and master's programs, specifically designed to cater to the contemporary needs of students in various fields. Here's a brief overview of the courses available:
    • Undergraduate Programs:
      • Bachelor in Business Administration: Tailored for those aiming for a career in global business, this course focuses on the essentials of business management and practice.
      • Bachelor in Political Science: Aimed at students passionate about politics, this program delves deep into political theory, systems, and structures.
      • Bachelor in Marketing and Advertising: This course equips students with the skills to navigate the complex world of marketing and communications in the digital age.
      • Bachelor in International Relations: Students are trained in the intricacies of international politics, diplomatic relations, and global conflict resolution.
      • Bachelor in Media and Journalism: Aspiring journalists and media professionals learn the tools of the trade, with an emphasis on ethical reporting and modern media technologies.
      • Bachelor in Computer Science: This program is designed for those looking to break into the tech industry, offering a deep dive into software development, network systems, and more.
    • Postgraduate Programs:
      • Master in International Relations: This program offers an advanced study into global politics, focusing on diplomacy, international conflict, and peace studies.
      • Master in Marketing and Advertising: For those looking to take their marketing skills to the next level, this master’s offers advanced strategies and methodologies.
      • Master in Media and Journalism: Building on the undergraduate course, this program offers a deeper understanding of the media landscape, with a focus on modern journalistic techniques and ethics.

    All courses at MIUC are delivered in English, emphasising the institution's commitment to catering to an international student body. The university's unique teaching approach ensures that students not only receive theoretical knowledge but also gain practical experience, benefiting from small class sizes and direct access to professors. Additionally, MIUC places a significant emphasis on research, which helps students assimilate a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical insights.

  • Facilities: Supporting its advanced curriculum, MIUC offers:
    • Contemporary lecture theatres fitted with cutting-edge technology.
    • A well-stocked library with an extensive range of resources.
    • Specialised research labs for hands-on experience.
    • Modern media and recording studios.
    • Technologically advanced computer labs.

    Moreover, MIUC extends services beyond academics, offering academic counselling and career advising for holistic student development.

  • Contact details:

Other Options

While Estepona further along the coast doesn’t currently have a centre of higher education, there are plans underway to open a public university in the near future.

Moreover, Marbella is home to the Les Roches Marbella International School of Hotel Management. This world-renowned private institution offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs in the fields of hospitality, tourism, and event management. Its multicultural environment, with students from over 60 different countries, provides a real-world setting mirroring the globalised industry it serves.

In addition to formal educational institutions, Marbella offers various language schools and professional training centres. These institutions provide courses in Spanish for foreigners, thus enabling international students to immerse themselves in the local culture and language.

With its diverse range of educational offerings, Marbella not only caters to the needs of its local community but also positions itself as an attractive destination for international students seeking quality education in a multicultural setting. Whether one is aiming for a career in business, or hospitality, or simply wishes to experience the rich Spanish culture while studying, Marbella offers an unparalleled educational journey.


Marbella offers an invaluable setting for children to thrive in a multicultural and multilingual environment. The town is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and languages, which not only enriches the social fabric but also lays the foundation for a holistic education.

Growing up in such a diverse setting allows children to develop cultural awareness, adaptability, and linguistic skills that are crucial in our interconnected world. The educational institutions in Marbella reflect this ethos. With their high standards of teaching and wide array of curricular and extracurricular activities, these schools are recognised both locally and internationally.

Furthermore, the choice and versatility of schools available cater to the needs of both the international community and local residents. In essence, Marbella provides an ideal backdrop for families who prioritise an inclusive, high-quality education, ensuring their children are poised to become informed, empathetic global citizens.

Pia Arrieta, 26 Jan 2024 - Lifestyle

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