Buildings in Medellin

A guide to International Schools in Medellín, Colombia

If you are a parent with a school-aged child or an international teacher hoping to find a job in this fun city, this post is for you.  This article will cover the options for international schools in Medellín, Colombia.

If you’ve looked at other international cities popular with expats, you’re probably wondering why there is almost no information available in English on the internet about schools in Medellin.  Medellin is definitely an up and coming hotspot, but popular for retirees and for digital nomads; two groups which generally don’t have school-age children.

So, I have to break it to you that there are NO true international schools in Medellin. It’s the sad truth.  If you define an international school as one that uses an international curriculum like the International Baccalaureate and has staff and students from dozens of countries with less than half of the enrollment made up of students from the host country, then there are zero international schools in Medellin.  Zip. Zero. Zilch. 

View of Medellin, Colombia

Now that we’re clear, what follows is information about education in Colombia and a list of bilingual, multilingual, international curriculum but not-quite-truly-international schools in Medellin.  

Moving to Medellín? Read about 10 crazy-cool things you’ll see there.

The Colombian Education System

While many schools have some teachers from other countries and even teach with curriculums from other countries, the vast majority of students (ie. upwards of 90%) are from Colombia.  This means that many schools operate with a Colombian mindset and follow more traditional methods and routines.  Think a more teacher-centered, less hands-on experience.  For example, students may have 12+ teachers and subjects, even in elementary school.  Sometimes, the students stay in their homeroom classroom all day and specialist teachers come to them.  Elementary students may not be learning to read in centers or reading groups, but all together as a class.  

This can be a big shock to students who are used to a North American or British model that is very student-centered and provides lots of time for movement.

In a Colombian model the student-teacher relationship is very informal and students may even call teachers by their first name (even without the Ms./Mr.).  Students tend to form very close relationships and be very friendly and welcoming.  They also like to talk a lot and the accepted noise level may be louder than in North America.

The School Year Calendar

An important factor to consider when deciding on your school is the school year calendar.  In Colombia, schools are either Calendar A or Calendar B.  A Calendar A school starts the school year in February, which is the more traditional Colombian and South American model.  Most of the schools in Colombia are Calendar A.  A Calendar B school starts in mid-August to align better with other countries.  Most of the internationally-minded schools here use the B calendar, however, since there is usually a long break at Christmas for both systems, there really isn’t that much difference between an A and B Calendar. 

Colombia has more national holidays than just about any other country, at 18.  When these fall on the weekend they are usually celebrated on a Monday, so there will be many Mondays without school.  This may also mean that summer and winter breaks are a bit shorter but the holiday season from mid October to January is peppered with days off.

Medellín Schools

The Columbus School

  • Grades: 4K-12
  • Enrolled students: 1800+f
  • Location: Envigado (Alto De Las Palmas)
  • Curriculum: American and Colombian national diploma, 80% of classes taught in English by English native speakers
  • Subjects taught:
  • School year: Calendar B, August to June

The Canadian School

  • Grades: Pre-K – 12
  • Enrolled students: 800
  • Location: La Estrella
  • Curriculum: Colombian National, British Colombian diploma(10th-12th)
  • Subjects taught: Business, French
  • School year: Calendar B, August to June
  • Other: Immersion semester in Canada (9th)
The Canadian School in Medellin, Colombia

Vermont School

  • Grades: Pre-K-12
  • Enrolled students:
  • Location: El Retiro with a small Pre-K-1 site in Poblado
  • Curriculum: Cambridge Assessment International Education, IB Diploma (grades 11 and 12)
  • Subjects taught: English  and Mandarin (from 4th grade)
  • School year: Calendar B, August to June
  • Other: Immersion trips to Canada and England

Marymount School 

  • Grades: 3-year-olds to 11th grade, All-girls
  • Enrolled students: 1000
  • Location: Poblado
  • Curriculum: Cambridge, Colombian National Program
  • Subjects taught: English from Pre-K, French from 5th grade 
  • School year: Calendar B
  • Other: Sacred Heart of Mary group

El Colegio Colombo-Británico

  • Grades: Pre-K – 11
  • Enrolled students:
  • Location: Envigado
  • Curriculum: Colombian
  • School year: 
  • Other: Immersion trips to Canada (5th) and England (8th)
Colegio Colombo Británico in Medellin, Colombia

Liceo Francés / Le Lycée Français Medellin

  • Grades: Pre-K – 6 
  • Enrolled students: ?
  • Location: Envigado (Las Palmas)
  • Curriculum and degrees: Colombian and French diplomas, English, robotics
  • School year: Calendar B, September to June
  • Other: School opened in 2015

Deutsch Schule/The German School Medellin

  • Grades: Pre-K -12
  • Enrolled students: 1,100
  • Location: Itagüí
  • Curriculum: German and Colombian national program, IB Diploma (11th and 12th grade), English, band
  • School year: Calendar A January to November
  • Other: semester in Germany
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