One thing every expat parent must consider before taking the leap and moving to Andorra is the quality of the country’s education system. Given its relatively small size and small population, Andorra actually boasts great schooling options.
In Andorra’s education system, schooling is mandatory in Andorra between the ages of 6 and 16. Parents have the right to choose between four distinctive school systems for their kids.
Every parish boasts its own primary school. Additionally, most communities have a secondary school. There are also creches for younger children as well as private nurseries. If you’re looking to relocate to Andorra, understanding the education system is a must. In fact, it is paramount to your child’s quality of life.
Below, we’ll guide you through schooling in Andorra to help you best prepare for what to expect. We get that finding schools in Andorra can be an exercise in patience. After all, you want what is best for your child, whether that comes in the form of a private school or a public option. Let’s dive right into the Andorran education system.
Public Schooling System in Andorra
One thing that makes Andorra such a tempting place to live is that the standard of education is very high. Small countries often get a bad reputation when it comes to schooling but Andorra has made great strides to ensure they do not fall into that trap. As a parent, you can expect to choose between three different public school systems:
- French, and
Keep in mind, all public schools are free in Andorra.
Once you choose an education system, attendance is mandatory until your child is 16. Home-schooling is not currently permitted in Andorra. Regardless of which school system you choose, students will be heavily exposed to English, French, Spanish, and of course, the official language of Catalan. Basically, all local languages are covered.
Additionally, you can expect the following subjects to be taught in all schooling systems in Andorra. They include:
- Social Studies
The goal is to create well-rounded students who are diverse in language and culture. In our experience, Andorra does a great job of educating its students. No wonder the Andorra literacy rate is 100%. This is a claim few other countries in the world can boast. You can rest assured as a parent that your kids are getting the very best education available.
The French System
As mentioned above, you can choose between three key school systems in Andorra. French is one of the most popular options. Around half of all Andorran children attend a school that is part of the French education system. Students officially enter the system at 6 years old, though there is a maternal system starting at age 3. There is a focus on literature, music, mathematics, the French language, and art.
In the French system, each year will bring an additional subject. That means one more class will be added to the curriculum with each passing year. Upon finishing upper secondary school, children receive a diploma. After that, many take the next step to further their education. It is worth noting that children who complete their studies in the French system can later attend university in France for free.
The Spanish System
Spanish used to be one of the more common education systems in Andorra but as time continues it’s become much less common. This system is managed by the Spanish government and is a less common option for ex-pat children. The school consists of three disparate levels:
- Primary Education: ages 3 through 6
- Basic General Education: ages 6 through 12
- Baccalaureate program: ages 12 through 18
Upon completion of the Spanish schooling system, students can pursue higher education in Spain. This is often appealing to both students and parents. It opens up the opportunity for students to take flight in a larger country as Spain also has some rather renowned universities. Job opportunities can be plentiful in this region, especially when compared directly to Andorra.
The Andorran System
Finally, you have the Andorran schooling system. Given the number of expats in Andorra who are not from Spain or France, this is a popular option. Most expats do place their kids in the Andorran system. Schools in Andorra are committed to teaching French from a very early age. With that said, Catalan is the main language in Andorran schools and this language is not commonly spoken abroad.
Once students complete secondary school, they receive a certificate. This certificate allows them to continue on with their studies in Andorra. However, students are not limited to staying within the principality. Instead, the certificate will allow them to pursue an education in another European country. This includes colleges and universities.
Levels of Andorran Schooling
Despite its low population and small size, Andorra boasts a very progressive schooling system. Expect frequently updated curriculums, age-appropriate teaching methods and excellent infrastructure. Just like most other education systems in the world, the Andorran system provides 4 levels of education:
The first level of schooling provides a solid foundation for children aged 3 to 6 years. This level prepares them with by inculcating a basic set of skills including communication, emotional and cognitive development, and social skills.
Primary school, also known as Primera Ensenyança, is the first formal-schooling milestone which begins at age 6 and goes on till age 11. The curriculum consists of math, social science, science and technology, and physical education.
Secondary schooling, or Segona Ensenyança, is similar to primary schooling — the main difference is that the curriculum is more comprehensive and includes subjects such as art, music, nature, literature and more.
Higher secondary schooling constitutes the final year of formal schooling. It starts at age 16 and concludes when students are 18 years of age. Note that unlike primary and secondary schooling, higher-secondary schooling is not mandatory.
Higher-secondary students are encouraged to apply for a diploma and continue their academic journey.
Private International Schools in Andorra
Many expat families who speak English opt to send their children to a private school. One particular favorite is the Agora International. Most private schools offer up a multi-national multi-lingual environment. Additionally, most grant access to a smattering of winter and summer sports like skiing and golf, as well as other extra-curricular activities. Unlike public schools, these private schools are not free.
Seeking international schools in Andorra rather than one of the public school systems?
Agora International School
Currently, there’s one key international school known as Agora International. This is a private school located in La Massana. It offers boarding facilities for children between 9 and 18 years.
Agora boasts a 4 language curriculum (Catalan, English, French, Spanish). Given how many students are from different nationalities, they are adept at teaching Catalan and making sure all students are well-versed in a variety of tongues.
Annual tuition is over €7,000.
The British College of Andorra
The The British College of Andorra is a great option for expats because their core language is in fact English. They also teach and speak a small amount of Catalan. Located in Andorra la Vella, annual tuition is almost €10,000.
This school takes students ages 3 through 18 where they are taught the British National Curriculum. It is also operated by the team who runs the British College of Gava.
The school itself is located at the site of an ex-hostel in La Comella. Many parents find that the location is idyllic for children with lots of nature nearby. However, it is not exactly centrally located, which can make winter drives a bit of a hassle. Luckily, there is bus service to and from the English school. This is a great private option for any student whose core language is English yet wants to learn the many languages of Andorra.
University and Tertiary Education
Though small, Andorra’s education system does offer University and tertiary education. Courses typically last four years. While many students who want to go to university will move to France (Toulouse) or Spain (Barcelona), Andorra does have options.
Universitat d’Andorra is a relatively new university, but it is gaining a solid reputation. It is particularly renowned for computer science, nursing, and management degrees. They also offer a highly reputable virtual studies center which allows for online courses.
Additionally, students can attend the Universitat Oberta la Salle. As a long distance university, Oberta la Salle offers masters in business and computing. Whatever university students choose, they will get a quality education in Andorra and learn Catalan in the process.
Education in Andorra — What To Expect
How would we rank schools in Andorra? Call us biased, but we do believe Andorra has a very advanced and progressive education system. This is particularly true given how small the country itself actually is. There is a reason the Andorra literacy rate is an astounding 100%.
Students from all walks of life can expect to learn multiple languages while enjoying plenty of time in the great outdoors. With multiple education systems to choose from, parents can opt for what works best with their child whether that be through a down to earth Andorran school, a more formal French school or one of the other private systems. The only thing you cannot do in Andorra is homeschool your child.
If you’re interested in moving to Andorra, you do not need to be concerned about the schooling system. No matter which region you call home, you’ll find a great public option offering a comprehensive education that suits the modern world. Pupils are left well equipped for further education or employment. The goal is always to create well-rounded students who become valuable members of society.
Get in Touch
Still not sure where to start with Andorra’s education system? We can help! Contact us today and we can help you to navigate the many choices you have when it comes to schooling in Andorra. Don’t let the many choices and options overwhelm you, we’re always here to help guide you on your journey to life in Andorra!