The British School of Alicante,
an unfortunate experience

Spanish Version

As the parents of Pedro (barely 5 years of age) we have created this page to divulge our experience with the British School of Alicante.

Although we are very upset and we believe that the practices of the British School of Alicante are unacceptable, we will make an effort at objectivity in recounting our experiences. We will also say what we believe are the motives and interests underlying the aforesaid practices.

We believe that our experience should be disclosed to other parents who are seeking what is best for their children, before they make the decision to register them at the British School of Alicante.

By the time you read this, our son Pedro will have ceased to be a pupil of the British School of Alicante, for the reasons which we will explain, and this is why we have called our website www.byebyeBSA.com.

If we summarize our experience in a nutshell, we might say that we had to pull our son out of the school in a hurry for a series of reasons we will now explain, and we will let you be the judge of whether the behavior of the British School of Alicante is acceptable in this country.

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The British School of Alicante, an unfortunate experience
We wanted the best for our son, and considered the economic sacrifice entailed to be worthwhile. We considered that speaking English could be an important advantage for him in his life, and assumed that the values taught by the school would be as good as or better than those taught at other schools.
At the admission interview, everything seemed wonderful: we were persuaded that their system was personalized, meaning that each child’s personality would be respected and his or her special qualities would be enhanced.

Pedro digging for dinosaur fossiles at Dinopolis (Teruel)

Our son Pedro, under 4 years of age at the time, that is shortly after entering school, garners the disfavor of the teachers: he is restless, does not follow class discipline, walks around during class, pays no attention to reprimands, etc. We are summoned regularly to meetings at the school at which we are told he is a problem child, and that we should consult a psychologist to see what can be done.

We go to see a psychologist from the Social Security service (i.e. someone who is supposedly impartial), who sees no problem in Pedro and tells us that in any case, as he is so small, a problem such as attention deficit would be impossible to diagnose. He tells us that perhaps we should look for another school for our child. Over time we will realize that we should have followed this good piece of advice.

Cutting our “Calvary” short, after many meetings to “talk about Pedro’s behavior”, we became desperate because it was actually becoming a free-for-all in which an increasing number of teachers kept telling us how terribly incompetent Pedro was, and suggesting that he might have a psychological problem, because he did not look people in the eye, did not eat properly, played obsessively with scissors and Plasticine (play dough), and that they were all “very worried about his mental health”.

Each of our visits saw us emerge in a state of shock and incomprehension, generating much worry, sleepless nights and suffering for us, because Pedro seemed to be a totally normal, affectionate and happy child, etc., albeit a bit disobedient, but that was all. After a few more meetings of the same kind, at which we were not heard, but simply subjected to further “proofs” of Pedro’s “total incompetence” and the uselessness of his continuing at the school, we decided that we were at the end of our tether, and that Pedro would have to leave.

That was in late October 2007. They told us to speak to the headmistress of the elementary school, thus shrugging off any responsibility on the matter. Although we quite obviously wanted to find him another school, because we know that Pedro is a normal child who would have no difficulty in adapting better elsewhere, due to the fact that vacancies are hard to find halfway the school year, we assumed that Pedro would be able to stay on until its end. This was our hope prior to attending the meeting.

At that meeting we received the worst blow since Pedro had become a pupil at the british school of alicante: there was no way of arranging his removal decently. Pedro “had to leave before Christmas at any price”. We expressed our preference that he should stay a longer time, enabling us to find him a suitable school. We even said that we understood his performance might not be good, and accepted that, but that we might need more time to make the change.

This proved impossible, and here something happened to amaze and infuriate us, leaving us with a sense of impotence that lasted for several months afterwards. The elementary school coordinator told us that Pedro had to be removed from the School imperatively, since if we refused to withdraw him voluntarily, the School would do what was necessary to have Pedro expelled.

We were livid with rage. We were being told matter-of-factly that they intended to do something that would be inconceivable for any school in the case of a child who had barely turned five years of age. We left numbed with shock. What could we do? We had been threatened that Pedro would be deliberately treated in a way calculated to cause an incident that was sufficiently serious to justify his expulsion.

We decided that the best thing for Pedro was to quickly find a different school and, once Pedro was out of the British School of Alicante, to do all in our power to denounce these facts to all who are willing to listen to us, and do all in our power to prevent the same thing happening to other parents: hence this web page.

Naturally, we had to face one further problem caused by the British School of Alicante: there was a school with very good references that seemed willing to accept Pedro after an interview with us, but when they asked the BSA for references on Pedro, they were given a deplorate report, causing them to reject his application. One more nail in the coffin from the British School of Alicante, not only do they force your child out by threatening expulsion, but they also prevent your finding another school for him that will fulfill your expectations of a good education.

We finally found a public school in which Pedro feels very comfortable, and in which his teacher understands that children’s education is a difficult task demanding major doses of patience and subtlety.
A few days before his leaving the school, we requested an interview with the headmistress, who listened to us and promised that we would get an official reply. Three months later, we still have not received this reply. We are simply being ignored or slighted.

We presented a writ of protest, served by a notary public. We went to the Territorial Council of Culture and Education of Alicante where we were properly received and our grievance was attentively heard. We learned that the British School of Alicante is not a dependency of the Ministry of Education and Science, but is rather governed directly by the British educational system, according to high-level signed agreements. We went to Madrid, to the most important school in Spain of the King’s College Group, to which the British School of Alicante belongs, in order to explain our experience, but our effort was in vain. (Incidentally, Pedro’s father was a pupil at the King’s College in Madrid many years ago and has fond memories of it.)

We went to the British Consulate, where we were politely attended and the unfairness of our child’s treatment was understood. They told us clearly that the school is a private corporation over which they have no authority. It would seem that the British School of Alicante is using a legal “gray area” to act with impunity.

And what follows is our totally subjective opinion, which we nevertheless hope may be of help to some parents: the British School of Alicante is a hard-nosed business, driven by mere economic profit, with no educational vocation whatsoever.

Nevertheless, there is great demand for their services due to the modern idea that speaking English is a basic skill, and the willingness of many parents to undergo economic sacrifice to offer the best education to their children. They are enjoying tremendous economic success and have a lengthy waiting list. Their success has led to a haughty, overbearing and arrogant attitude. They believe that they are free to act with impunity and that all their actions are irreproachable. However, this is not so: they are extremely mediocre and lack the basic subtlety necessary in education. As they are flooded with applications, they select the children they accept for reasons of profitability. They are like self-service diners on the expressway, they don’t have to be good because they are always getting customers, although their services may be of poor quality.

If a child challenges them, they expel him or her (invite the child to leave) using the above method, and obtaining a double profit, to boot. They choose the next child on the waiting list and pocket the enrolment fees, which are very high and non-returnable, as per the small print on the admission form that parents sign guilelessly. (Mark this point, because it is a really hard-nosed business.)
We are aware that the BSA does have some competent people on its staff, but their honor must be of a personal nature and not compelling enough for them to jeopardize their jobs by going against the strictly mercantilist criteria of the school.

Moreover, if you decide to register your child at the school despite our warning, you will be able to observe that they are miserly and (if you forgive me the old-fashioned expression) money-grubbing. So, don’t say nobody warned you. We would be delighted to make contact with parents who have had a similar experience to ours at the BSA. There are bound to have been cases in the past, and there will no doubt be cases in the future, while all this is not made public knowledge, and the BSA does not change its leadership or policies.
Pedro’s parents, Alicante, March 2008

A brief “summary of suffering”
1) Jan-07 .- Pedro, just 4, garners disfavor due to his "low performance".
2) Jan-07 to Nov-07 .- Regular meetings at which only negative things are said about Pedro, including insinuations about his mental health.
3) Nov-07.- We decide Pedro must no longer remain at the school, and seek a decent solution in a meeting with the headmistress of the elementary school.
4) The headmistress of the elementary school, in a very aggressive and haughty way, tells us that Pedro must leave peremptorily before Christmas because, if he doesn’t, the BSA will take all necessary steps to have Pedro expelled for bad behavior (meaning he has to leave at once, by hook or by crook).
5) We are numbed with shock but, in our efforts to do what is best for Pedro, desperately seek another school. Later there will be time for us to claim justice.
6) Dic-07.- A new school that we approve of is willing to accept Pedro but, wondering why we are changing his school at mid-term, requests a report from the BSA, which comes back highly negative. Pedro is rejected (apparently one can have a curriculum vitae at 5 years of age).
7) Pedro is accepted at a public (government-run) school close to home, where we at last find some peace and a competent teacher with common sense. Both Pedro and we, his parents, feel much better after many months of suffering.
8) We decide to adopt all the legal actions we have recourse to in order to claim justice and publish our experience. We unsuccessfully accuse the school at the Territorial Council. We create www.byebyebsa.com to tell people about our experience.