1. Policy Statement

The British Council School is committed to the highest standards of education for the pupils in our care. We aim to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum which has been developed to ensure that all pupils are able to achieve their potential. Pupils are expected to leave the British Council School equipped not only with relevant academic qualifications but with the life skills needed to thrive in the world.

2. Aims and Objectives

The British Council School is a non-selective, co-educational independent day school which predominantly serves the Spanish community in Madrid. The school is part of the British Council which is the United Kingdom's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations.

The school seeks to develop young people who:

  • are bi-lingual (as a minimum, many are multilingual) and bi-cultural
  • embody the school’s five key life values of caring, loyalty, resilience, flexibility and challenge
  • accept and are engaged with the British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs
  • have the essential knowledge, skills and competencies to thrive in, and contribute to, their local, national and international communities

The school seeks to achieve this by providing:

  • a broad and balanced curriculum based on the English National Curriculum and complemented by Spanish language and cultural studies up to Year 11, continuing onto the Bilingual Baccalaureate (BiBac®) following the Spanish Programmes of study in English or Spanish
  • an exceptionally rich supra and extra-curricular programme
  • high quality teaching that combines the best of British and Spanish teaching methodologies
  • an innovative pastoral system using a vertical grouping system (“Families”) by Key Stages that supports students from 2-18

This document explores this provision in more detail. Other related documents and policies include subject specific policies, the exams policy, the assessment policy, the additional needs policy and the career and university guidance policy.

3. Curriculum Content

The British Council School curriculum is based on the English Early Years Foundation Stage and English National Curriculum up to Year 11. It is complemented by mandatory Spanish language and cultural studies and continues on to the Bilingual Baccalaureate in Key Stage 5 (BiBac®).

3.1. Pre-Nursery, Nursery and Reception

In Pre-Nursery, Nursery and Reception, children follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum. This broad and balanced approach offers the children the 7 essential areas of learning:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Education
  • Physical Development
  • Communication and Language
  • Mathematics
  • Literacy
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts

These are delivered through the medium of English Language both inside and outside of the classroom in a unique, purpose built and resourced Early Years learning environment. Phonics is taught from the third term in Nursery using the Read, Write, Inc. Programme. Between 10 and 15% of the timetable is delivered in Spanish, including Literature, Language and Understanding the World.

3.2. Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 3

Key Stage 1 includes Year 1, 2 and 3 in our school. Key Stage 2 includes Year 4, 5 and 6. Key Stage 3 includes Year 7, 8 and 9.

In Key Stages 1 to 3, pupils study the English National Curriculum which occupies approximately 80% of their 35 period school week. This is delivered in English. Pupils spend the remaining 20% studying Spanish language and cultural studies (Geography, History and optional RE) which are delivered in Spanish.

GL/NFER tests are taken in Key Stage 1, 2 and 3 in order to give pupils and teachers a clear indication of progress made. SATs are taken in Key Stage 2. At the end of Key Stage 3, Year 9 pupils sit the Cambridge First Certificate for Schools Examination in English Language. CEM testing (Durham University) is carried out internally in Year 9 to support student monitoring, tracking and counselling.

3.3. Key Stage 4

In Key Stage 4, students normally take 10 IGCSE subjects of which 8 are compulsory and 2 are optional.

Students take English as first language International GCSE and English Literature IGCSE in Year 11. Other compulsory IGCSE/International GCSE subjects are:

  • Mathematics
  • Double Science
  • French
  • Spanish as a first language
  • Spanish Literature

Students also choose 2 optional subjects from Chinese, Computing, Economics, History, Art, Drama, PE, German, and Triple Science (All students take Double Science – Physics, Chemistry and Biology). Some students choose or are advised to choose Extra Mathematics and/or Extra English and when necessary Extra Science in order to reinforce these subjects. All students take weekly Physical Education and Religion/Ethics classes.

At the end of Key Stage 4 students receive the Spanish Certificate of Secondary Studies as well as their official IGCSE and International GCSE Certificates.

In Year 9 students receive careers guidance in Term 3 through the PSHE/Tutorial Programme. This also supports them when choosing IGCSE/International GCSE Options for Year 10 and 11.  In Year 11, students continue to receive careers guidance through the PSHE programme and there is an extensive advice programme to support them in choosing subjects in Year 12 and Year 13 focussed on University and Degree choices.

All Year 11 students are offered a short work-shadowing experience with a range of Madrid based companies and institutions including public hospitals, multi-national business consultants, legal and architectural practices, science research centres and engineering businesses.

3.4. Key Stage 5

In Year 12 and 13 students complete the British Council School BiBac® Programme (Bilingual Baccalaureate). The programme of study is the Spanish National Baccalaureate Programme.

The BiBac® Programme is a broad programme of study where, in Year 12, all students must study English, Spanish Language and Literature, Mathematics (or Latin) , Philosophy and Physical Education. Students can then choose one of the following Baccalaureate programmes and when the subject is offered bilingually, students can choose to study the subject through English or Spanish: 

  • Technological: includes Physics (bilingual) and Chemistry (bilingual), & Technical Drawing (bilingual)
  • Health Science: includes Physics (bilingual).and Chemistry (bilingual), & Biology (bilingual)
  • Humanities: includes Contemporary World History (bilingual), Economics (bilingual) and Universal Literature (bilingual)1 - Choose 2

All students choose one additional subject from a range of alternatives such as Artistic Drawing (bilingual), Industrial Technology, French and Economics (bilingual). Students must become members of a Year 12 club and the choices range from a Chinese, German or French club, a Theatre or Art club, an Economics & Society Club, Model United Nations Club, Journalism Club, a Programming Club, a Laboratory Techniques Club or an Introduction to Critical Theory Club.  A range of extended essay projects and competitions take place annually offering students opportunities to develop competencies and skills in practical application of the theory developed in class.

Students also choose between Religion, Scientific Culture & Programming.

All students in Year 12 follow our wide-reaching Community Service Programme which involves working with Madrid Elderly Community, the Madrid Down Foundation, support and collaboration on initiatives related to our school Foundation which fundraises for investigation into cancer and an optional visit to a Romanian Orphanage at the end of Year 12. All Year 12 students are offered a short work-shadowing experience similar to that offered at the end of year 11. This gives them the opportunity to participate in a professional environment of their choice.

In Year 13, students continue with the BiBac® Programme. All students must study English, Spanish Language and Literature, Spanish History History of Philosophy and Maths (or Latin).

Students usually continue in the same Baccalaureate Programme and when the subject is offered bilingually, students can again choose to study the subject through English or Spanish: 

  • Technological: includes Physics (bilingual) and Chemistry (bilingual) & Technical Drawing (bilingual) – Students choose 2 subjects.
  • Health Science: includes Chemistry (bilingual), Biology (bilingual) –
  • Humanities: includes Economics (bilingual) and History of Philosophy2

1Subjects with bilingual in brackets are available in both English and Spanish.

2Subjects with bilingual in brackets are available in both English and Spanish.

All students then choose two additional subject from a range of alternatives (depending on BiBac® such as Business Administration (bilingual), Geography, Psychology, World Literature (bilingual), Artistic Drawing (bilingual), Industrial Technology, French and Economics (bilingual).

Students choose a subject from ALE (Ampliación de la Lengua Extranjera) which provides them with the opportunity to increase their technical English and continue to develop skills and competencies in areas similar to those offered in clubs.

At the end of the BiBac® Programme students who are successful achieve their Spanish Título de Bachillerato.

At the end of Year 13 (for entrance to Spanish universities), students complete the Spanish University Entrance Exam which has two parts: General part and Optional part. Students can also opt to study for the S.A.T. (US college preparatory exams, both general and specific exams) during Year 12 or Year 13 if they wish to apply to US universities or prepare for Aptitude Tests to enter UK Universities where this is a requirement.

3.5. An enhanced supra curricular offer across the School

The British Council School offers an outstanding programme of extra-curricular and supra-curricular activities throughout the school. Music, robotics, drama, public speaking, dance, sport and art are given high priority. Public performance is a regular requirement for pupils throughout their school life and through a wide variety of activities. The activities may take place in school, locally, or internationally.

Examples of supra- and extra-curricular provision include:

  • Sports opportunities: rugby, basketball, football, athletics, hockey, table-tennis, survival expeditions, swimming and lifesaving
  • Creative opportunities: flamenco, ballet and modern dance, primary choir, Secondary choir, A cappella, Big Band, Rock Band, Class Band, Strings in a Class, musical theatre, individual instrument classes
  • Other opportunities: choral speaking, declamation, Spanish poetry competitions
  • Local, national and international community service (charity events, residential visits, fundraising)
  • Residential and educational trips for different age groups

The school believes that children and young people should have the opportunity to develop resilience and leadership through competitions and examples of these include choral speaking, animated film and science competitions. In addition, students are given the opportunity to learn a musical instrument either through the regular curriculum (e.g. strings in class and Class Band) or via the peripatetic music team.

3.6. Religious Education

The 5 key life values to which the school aspires reflect the religious beliefs of multiple faiths. The school is non-denominational and inclusive.

The school follows the Spanish Religious Education curriculum which is Catholic based but which refers to world religions. Parents may choose to withdraw their child from Religious Education and should they do so, alternative provision is offered (in KS1 & 2 and in KS4 & 5, alternative provision at KS3 is currently under review).

Pupils are given the option to prepare for their First Communion and their Confirmation at school outside of normal curriculum time. More detail on the provision for Religious Education can be found in individual key stage documentation.

4. Quality of Teaching

The British Council School believes that in order to secure outstanding outcomes, the quality of teaching is of the utmost importance.

In order to secure this, the British Council School has a detailed role profile and the person specification within requires that all teachers:

  • are fully qualified teachers have good experience of UK practice gained from either teaching in the UK itself or in another UK school overseas and likewise for teachers teaching Spanish curriculum subjects
  • have native speaker level competence in English (or Spanish if teaching Spanish subjects)
  • have an approved DBS certificate (and the Spanish equivalent)

The British Council School operates safer recruitment practices in line with British Council policy. More details of which can be found here.

The British Council School bases its expectations of teacher performance on the English Teaching Standards. More details of which can be found here and which can be found as an appendix to this policy.

In return, the school offers comprehensive professional development including:

  • 8 full days of professional development (50 hours)
  • a rigorous, transparent and fair performance management process (in line with British Council policy)
  • regular performance reviews via lesson observations with constructive and professional feedback provided to support teacher development (with an entitlement for new teachers to receive this more frequently to support their integration into the school)
  • teaching and learning review walks
  • line managers carry out British Council performance management procedures which include professional development objectives
  • external agencies (e.g. Roehampton University, independent advisors/consultants)
  • Excellent Practitioners sharing best practice
  • Support to individuals in further professional/educational study

5. Expectations of Performance

The British Council School has high expectations of its students academically, socially and morally not only within the context of the school but within wider society.

5.1. Academic expectations

Although the school is non-selective when students enrol at the age of 2, there are very high academic expectations of every individual. Challenge is a key value and, accordingly, all young people are continually encouraged to extend their horizons and raise their aspirations.

Foundation stage:       

The school expects all children to achieve the Early Learning goals by the end of the Foundation stage.

At the end of KS2:        

The school expects all children to have achieved the English National Curriculum expected Standards per year group in Maths and English ( Previous NC level 4 ). The school aims to achieve a year on year increase in expected Standards for the Year group, aiming for Greater Depth ( Previous NC Level 4 and Level 5.)

At the end of KS4:

The school expects all students to achieve and indeed exceed the requirements for the Spanish Secondary Certificate and progress to KS5. We expect most students to gain between 8 and 10 IGCSEs/ International GCSEs with A* to C.

At the end of KS5:

The school expects all students to go on to university. To achieve this, we offer the BiBac® Certificate which gives them access to national and international universities. Students add their Spanish University Entrance results to their BiBac® giving them access to Spanish universities.  All students go on to University either in Spain or to other countries including the UK, Europe and the USA (see appendix about university destinations). Student numbers choosing overseas destinations have increased.

5.2. Additional support

Where pupils have been identified as having additional needs (see Additional Needs policy) the school makes appropriate adjustments where possible.

5.3. Languages

All students follow the curriculum for English and Spanish as first language. They also take English as a foreign language (Cambridge Assessment English exams).

All students study French from Year 7 to Year 11 as a mandatory IGCSE.

In Year 8 students can select German as a co-curricular club. German is offered as an IGCSE option in Year 11, and as a Year 12 option subject.

Chinese is offered in Year 8 and Year 12 as a co-curricular club.

Language examinations:





Year 9


Cambridge First Certificate for Schools in English (B2)

Year 10


IGCSE English as a Second Language (not all students)


IGCSE French Foreign Language (not all students)

Year 11


IGCSE First Language English


IGCSE French Foreign Language


IGCSE German Foreign Language (Option)


DALF - Alliance Française (B2) (not all students)

Year 12
(BiBac® 1)


CPE - Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (C2) / CAE – Cambridge Advanced Certificate in English  (C1)


DELF / DALF - Alliance Française (B2, C1,) (Option)


Goethe Zertifikat (A1, B1, B2) (Option)




Year 13
(BiBac® 2)


CPE - Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (C2) / CAE – Cambridge Advanced Certificate in English  (C1)


Business English Certificate Higher (BEC Higher) (C1)

DELF / DALF- Alliance Française (B2, C1, C2) (Option)

 Adopted:        October 2018                                  Review:      October 2020

See also