The Gibraltar government provides nursery places for pre-school children for all parents who wish to enrol their children at this age, the current provision for these children is catered for by all Lower Primary Schools (Notre Dame, Governor’s Meadow, St Paul’s, St Bernard’s, St Mary’s and St Joseph’s). There is also a nursery attached to St Martin's School. In addition there are privately run playgroups and nurseries, 10 of them currently registered with the Department of Education which inspects them jointly with the Environmental Agency and City Fire Brigade to ensure minimum standards of accommodation, numbers on roll and staffing levels.
Primary education is free, full-time and compulsory for Gibraltar. Schools are all co-educational and English is the language of instruction. Spanish is introduced formally as a subject in upper primary school (year 3), and is introduced in a less formal capacity in the lower primary setting. Spanish may also be employed as a teaching aid as and when appropriate. All curricula are based on the national curriculum for England, but with specific differences in respect of Spanish and other subjects (including Religious Education) reflecting local realities. Formal education in lower primary schools begins at the commencement of the autumn term each year, so organised that all children who will turn 5 during the academic year are enrolled at the start of the academic year. To ease the transition into schooling, morning sessions only are attended for a period of time as children commence the Reception year. Both morning and afternoon sessions follow, later on in the year.
Secondary education is free, full-time and compulsory for Gibraltar residents between the ages 12+ and 15+ years. The secondary curriculum is defined by national curriculum legislation. In the first three years (7, 8 and 9), secondary schools offer a broad compulsory curriculum that includes English, Mathematics, Science, Modern Foreign Languages, Spanish, History, Geography, Art, Music, Religious Education, Physical Education, Design and Technology and Computing. In years 10 and 11, pupils opt for subjects from a range of disciplines, keeping to national curriculum requirements. In addition, all pupils take the core subjects (English, Mathematics and Science), Spanish, Religious Education and Physical Education. Vocational education are also available.
St Martin's School caters for a wide range of special needs for children between the ages of 2+ and 16. Nand Governor’s Meadow Lower Primary Schools and St Anne’s and Bishop Fitzgerald Upper Primary Schools have well established Learning Support Facilities (LSFs), which cater for children of primary school age, for whom St Martin's would be inappropriate but whose special needs cannot be met satisfactorily in the mainstream classroom. As from September 2023, additional LSFs will be created in St Paul’s, St Mary’s and St Joseph’s Lower Primary Schools. There is also a LSF at each secondary school in addition to Alternative Learning Centres, which aim to provide support for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs.
Full time education in Gibraltar is primarily focused on intermediate and advanced courses in information technology, business and finance studies, and built environment studies. The Gibraltar College is an accreditation centre for UK’s main awarding bodies and professional institutes. Full time qualifications range from academic, vocational and technical courses, allowing individuals to combine these and create a programme of study that suits their individual learning style and needs. A large number of qualifications are offered, ranging from GCSE to AS/A levels, to full-time students, as well as part-time courses in the evenings.
Degree and higher national diploma courses are followed at United Kingdom universities, in the main. Gibraltar government scholarships are available to eligible students.