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Education and Schools

Gibraltar - Education and Schools

The education system in Gibraltar is very similar to the system in the UK. Children at the age of 3 can attend nursery or preschool, which is not compulsory. Primary education begins at the age of 4 or 5 and secondary education starts when children reach the age of 12. Secondary education is compulsory to all those between the ages of 12 and 16, after which all students have to take public exams. After they pass the exams, students can choose to study for two more years at school or continue with a higher level of education. Grants and funding are available to those students who wish to obtain certain degrees at university, which includes studying abroad, mostly in the United Kingdom. University students who attend UK universities are also eligible for the UK student loan schemes.

All teachers who work in Gibraltar have been previously trained in the United Kingdom. In order to work they all have to acquire a UK registration number and qualified teacher status. In this country there are 15 state schools and a certain number of private schools as well. There are also several private nurseries as state-run establishments, which are all strictly monitored when it comes to health, safety and the level of staff qualifications. When it is time for children to start primary education, they do it on a part-time basis at first, slowly integrating into the system. All primary schools in the country follow the UK national curriculum. At this early stage, all pupils begin learning Spanish as well.

All the secondary schools in Gibraltar also follow the UK national curriculum. Students are offered a wide variety of subjects, which can later be narrowed down for exams. There are also compulsory subjects that include English, mathematics, sciences, religious studies and physical education. The qualifications that can be acquired include GCSEs and A Levels. Gibraltar offers special education for children between the ages of 5 and 16. The most famous special school is St Martin, built in the 1970s, providing education for pupils with special needs. Each secondary school in the country is also equipped with a special needs unit as well.

Those who do not wish to attend schools that follow the UK curriculum can choose private international schools just across the border in Spain. Those who wish to acquire knowledge in areas such as accounting and marketing can go to college in Gibraltar. While students generally attend day courses, there are also numerous evening courses available to adults.

The Department of Education official website is here.

Public schools in Gibraltar

In Gibraltar, compulsory education starts at the age of 4 with primary education, which lasts for eight years, in first and middle school. All primary schools are co-educational. Secondary schools, for children aged 12 to 16, tend to follow the GCSE programme. Students who are interested in continuing their studies after taking their GCSEs can move on to sixth form at the same school.

Private schools in Gibraltar

In Gibraltar, there is only one official private school. Loreto Convent is a Catholic co-educational junior school catering for children from nursery to age 12.

International schools in Gibraltar

Expats who wish to send their children to an international school mostly choose to send them to one in Spain. The most popular choices are Sotogrande International School in Cádiz and the English International College in Marbella.

Tertiary education in Gibraltar

The University of Gibraltar officially opened its doors in 2015. It offers courses in a variety of fields, including health sciences and hospitality.

Education by levels

Pre-school education

The Gibraltar government supports numerous nursery places for pre-school children. The current provision for pre-school age is catered for by Varyl Begg Nursery, St Paul’s Nursery, St Mary’s Nursery, Governor’s Meadow Nursery, St Bernard’s Nursery, Notre Dame Nursery and St Joseph’s Nursery. One more nursery is attached to St Martin's Special School as well. There are also private nurseries and playgroups, 10 of which are currently registered with the Department of Education which monitors them along with the Environmental Agency and City Fire Brigade to ensure a satisfactory level of accommodation, numbers on roll and staff level.

Primary education

Primary education in Gibraltar is free, full-time and compulsory. Schools are all co-educational and English is the language of instruction. Spanish is introduced as a subject in middle school, but can be employed even earlier as a teaching aid in some special circumstances. All curricula are based on the national curriculum for England, with specific differences in respect of Spanish and other subjects, such as Religious Education, reflecting local culture.

Secondary education

In Gibraltar, secondary education is free, full-time and compulsory for students between the ages of 12 and 15 years. The secondary curriculum is defined by national curriculum legislation. In the first two years, at grades 8 and 9, secondary schools offer a compulsory curriculum that includes English, Mathematics, Science, French or European studies, Spanish, History, Geography, Art, Music, Religious Education, Physical Education, Design and Technology, and Information and Communications Technology. In grades 10 and 11, students can choose various additional subjects, keeping to national curriculum requirements. In addition, all students take the core subjects, such as English, Mathematics and Science, with Religious Education and Physical Education. Vocational education is also available.

Special education

St Martin’s School is the school for children with special needs between the ages of 5 and 16. Notre Dame School and Bishop Fitzgerald schools are learning support facilities (LSFs), which are meant for children of early school age who cannot go to St Martin’s. There is also one LSF at each secondary school in addition to an Alternative Learning Centre at Bayside School, which aims to provide extra support for pupils.

Gibraltar College

Full time college education in Gibraltar is primarily focused on advanced courses in information technology, business and finance studies, and built environment studies. It is considered an area of rapid growth, so all those courses aim to lead students to high level professional qualifications. The college provides tuition support for bodies such as ACCA, ILEX, ICSA, AAT and the institute of bankers. A large number of qualifications are offered, and the college caters to full-time students, as well as offering part-time courses in the evenings.

Higher education

In general, university degrees and higher national diploma courses are followed at United Kingdom universities. Gibraltar government scholarships are available to eligible students.

Read more about this country

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