Looking for schools in Santander or Cantabria (Spain)?

One of the most important considerations for families moving not just to Spain but to any new location is finding the right school for their children.

Santander and Cantabria are no exception, so we want to provide additional information to assist families moving to Cantabria in search of the best education for their children.

In this article, we will recommend some schools in Santander and Cantabria, but first, we would like to share a couple of very important sections to help you understand how the education system works in Spain, and specifically in Cantabria. Education is a regional competence, which means Cantabria has almost complete control over its education system. This means that Cantabria has its own school calendar and its own teaching guide (within a national directive framework).

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Before listing some recommended schools in Cantabria, we will discuss two very important concepts:

What are the educational stages in Cantabria?

As in the rest of Spain, there are several educational stages, with schooling being mandatory for children between the ages of 6 and 16. The stages are divided as follows:

  • Educación Infantil (Early Childhood Education), also known as preschool: This is a non-mandatory stage consisting of a first cycle from 0 to 3 years (which can be in daycare centers) and a second cycle from 3 to 6 years (usually carried out in specialized centers or schools).

  • Educación Primaria (Primary Education): This stage goes from 6 to 12 years old and is mandatory, consisting of 6 academic years. It provides basic education where children face their first exams.

  • Secondary Education (also known as ESO): This is a mandatory educational stage that goes from 12 to 16 years old and consists of four academic years. In the last two years, there can be some specialization (science vs. humanities). Upon completing this stage, students receive the “Graduado en Educación Secundaria” (Secondary Education Graduate) diploma, which is necessary to continue with post-compulsory studies. Students may repeat a year or leave school without completing this stage upon turning 16.

  • Bachillerato: This is a pre-university stage consisting of two academic years, generally from 16 to 18 years old. These are specialized courses in certain fields (sciences, humanities, technology, health, etc.). At the end of these courses, students take the university entrance exam (PAU). Admission to university depends on the combined grades of the Bachillerato and the PAU.

What types of schools are there in Cantabria (and in Spain)?

In Spain, we can classify schools into three main groups (They may offer bilingual options):

  • Escuelas Públicas (Public Schools): Fully funded and managed by the government, with no charges for students. Secular education.

  • Escuelas Privadas (Private Schools): Privately funded with considerable independence and autonomy in education within the basic guidelines set by the Ministry of Education. They require tuition fees, which are generally high, making them somewhat elitist.

  • Escuelas concertadas (Charter Schools): These are a hybrid between public and private schools. They are privately funded but receive government co-funding, which reduces their autonomy compared to private schools. They may have a religious emphasis and are not supposed to charge tuition fees for education, although some schools do charge fees for various purposes. Some are called cooperative schools.

Apart from the aforementioned groups, it’s interesting to mention the following two types:

  • International Schools: These offer international education (British) independent of Spanish educational guidelines. Generally, all subjects are taught in English.

    IMPORTANT: There are no schools of this type in Cantabria.


  • Special Education Schools: Designed for students with special educational needs.

The best schools in Santander and Cantabria

Let’s create two groups: religious schools and secular schools.

Secular schools in Santander and Cantabria

  • Jardin de Africa:
    Located in Santander it is one of the first private subsidized schools (charter school)  in Cantabria. It is bilingual and covers from early childhood education to secondary education.
    C. Aviche, 37, 39012 Santander, Cantabria https://www.jardindeafrica.com/

  • Colegio Atalaya:
    Located in Santander it is non-bilingual subsidized school that covers from early childhood to secondary education.
    Bajada de Rumayor, s/n, 39006 Santander, Cantabria https://colegioatalaya.com

  • Colegio Verdemar:
    Located in Santander it is non-bilingual cooperative school that covers from early childhood to secondary education.
    C. la Llanilla, 102, 39012 Santander, Cantabria http://colegioverdemar.com/

  • Waldorf Cantabria:
    The only non-religious private school in Cantabria, located in Villanueva. It offers bilingual education in early childhood and primary levels.
    Barrio Castanedo, 97 39690, 39690 Villanueva, Cantabria http://www.waldorfcantabria.es/ 

  • Colegio Altamira:
    Located in Revilla, it is a subsidized school with a bilingual program covering from preschool to secondary education.
    Lugar, Bo. el Bardalon, 16, 39600 Revilla de Camargo, Cantabria http://altamiracole.es/

  • Colegio Puente III:
    Located in Astillero, it is a subsidized school with a bilingual program covering from preschool to secondary education.
    Av. de España, 20, 39610 Astillero, Cantabria https://www.colegiopuente.com/

  • Liceo San Juan de la Canal:
    Located in Soto de la Marina it Is a subsidised bilingual school that covers preschool to primary education.
    Av. Playa San Juan de la Canal, 7, 39110 Soto de la Marina, Cantabria http://liceosanjuandelacanal.com/

  • CEIP Eloy Villanueva:
    A public school located in Santander known for its high level of education and partial bilingual programs. It covers early childhood education and primary education.
    C. San Pedro del Mar, 53, 39012 Santander, Cantabria http://www.eloyvillanueva.com/

Religious schools in Santander and Cantabria

There are more recommended schools in Cantabria. If you need any specific information, feel free to contact us or use the forum.

Do you need more information about Santander or Cantabria?

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