The National Association of British Schools in Spain (NABSS) was founded in 1978 by a group of leading British schools in Spain.
Membership has grown steadily since then, corresponding to the sustained growth of British education within Spain. The association now comprises around 70 schools who, collectively, are educating more than 30 000 children.
All NABSS member schools are fully authorised and recognised by the corresponding education authorities in Spain, as foreign schools teaching the British education system. In order to obtain this authorisation they have to be certified by the British Council in Spain after having successfully passed inspections meeting British education standards. In order to be eligible for NABSS membership, schools must also be well established and with a proven track record. New schools that are still developing are not immediately admitted as members.
The main purpose of NABSS is to represent the common interests of these British schools in Spain and to encourage collaboration between them. This extends to providing opportunities for professional development and to keeping schools fully up to date with developments in education in the UK.
Central to this is the NABSS annual conference, an event which brings together representatives of the schools, expertise from the UK, providers of the latest educational resources and guest speakers who are “key players” in education or in UK-Spain relations.
Year by year the NABSS conference is becoming a larger event. Recent conferences have been attended by up to 500 delegates and, apart from the schools, over 50 education-linked companies have participated.
NABSS is represented by an elected executive committee. Over the years, and with a view to ensuring optimal recognition of the education provided by NABSS member schools, these representatives have participated in key meetings with organisations such as the British Council and the British Embassy in Spain, the Spanish Ministry of Education and the UNED, the Department for Education in the UK, OfSTED and international inspection bodies, leading UK examination boards and other international schools organisations worldwide.
In 2001, NABSS inaugurated its schools’ inspection service (NIS) in collaboration with the British Council in Spain. This allows British schools in Spain to use an inspection service which follows BSO (British Schools Overseas) accreditation criteria, but with a greater awareness of their particular local context. NABSS inspectors are trained by UK approved organisations and the inspection service is quality assured by a member of HMI and by the British Council. In more recent years NIS has also organised collaboration agreements for joint inspections with two recognised BSO inspectorates; Cambridge Education and SIS.
Currently, the majority of British schools in Spain are using the NABSS inspection service, which is available to both member and non-member schools.
The inspection service has facilitated the role of NABSS in promoting high standards among its member schools and also in helping developing schools to reach expected standards before becoming members of the association.
In 2008, NABSS set up a collaboration agreement with the Spanish private schools’ association (ACADE). This allows both organisations to benefit from each other’s initiatives while remaining essentially independent.
The work of NABSS over the years has been recognised and highly appreciated, both by its member schools and externally. Three previous NABSS executive committee presidents have been awarded honours (MBE or OBE) by the British authorities, for their work in promoting British education in Spain.