The standard of education and schools in Tampa is largely excellent, and parents making the move to the city will be spoilt for choice when it comes to schooling options. School placements in the city depend on catchment zones, so parents are encouraged to carefully consider which area or suburb they plan to live in.

Factors to consider when picking a school include the type of school, the standard of teaching, the cost of tuition fees, the extracurricular activities available, and the proximity to home.

Public schools in Tampa

Schoolchildren at desks

The Hillsborough County School District (HCSD) is the authority that oversees public schools in Tampa. Tampa residents can have their children attend a public school at little to no cost. In line with the US standard, the schooling system in Tampa is split between three levels:

  • Elementary school – Kindergarten to Grade 5
  • Middle school – Grade 6 to Grade 8
  • High school – Grade 9 to 12

As is the case in most US cities, public school standards vary. Some public schools are brilliant and provide a standard of education that falls in line with those at private schools. On the other hand, there are also underperforming schools that suffer from underfunding and staff shortages. In general, though, the standard of public school education in Tampa is pretty decent.

Charter schools

Tampa also boasts several good charter schools. These are a subset of public schools that are overseen by external actors. Although they have more freedom regarding teaching methodology and admissions, these schools remain accountable to the Hillsborough Country Schools District.

Each of these institutions will have a charter that details the school's operations, programme, goals, and assessment methods. Some serve particular populations or students struggling in a traditional learning environment, whereas others follow a particular instructional theme. Charter schools are generally more flexible when it comes to catchment areas.

Magnet schools

Like charter schools, magnet schools in Florida are partially state-funded, but because they do receive some funding from external sources, they have more autonomy over their curricula. Magnets benefit from allowing students to pursue a more vocational path aligned with their strengths.

Magnet schools tend to focus on areas such as sports, performing arts, foreign languages or STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and maths).

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Private schools in Tampa

There are a fair few private schools in Tampa, many of which have a religious affiliation, mostly with a branch of the Christian faith. Private schools tend to offer a higher standard of teaching and better facilities than most public schools.

Naturally, the downside of private education is the cost. Parents who choose to send their children to a private school in Tampa should be prepared to budget for tuition fees. On top of the fees themselves, they’ll need to factor in other expenses such as uniforms, textbooks, extracurricular pursuits and field trips.

International schools in Tampa

There are a handful of international schools in Tampa, most of which follow the globally recognised International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. IB schools are a great option for expats or internationally-minded families that might see themselves moving overseas again in the future.

It is also worth bearing in mind that there are a number of magnet and charter schools in Tampa that offer the IB programme. Although these schools do tend to be oversubscribed, securing a place at one of them allows families to have their child study for the IB at a fraction of the cost they’d pay at a private institution.

The French American School offers a French immersion programme for early childhood and primary school education, making it a great choice for French students who would like to maintain home language proficiency. Parents looking for a Spanish language immersion programme can explore Tampa Bay International School.

For foreigners who are intent on having their child continue studying the curriculum of their home country, it is worth exploring options in wider Florida, as many of these schools do offer boarding options for their students.

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Special-needs education in Tampa

Hearing aid

The education system in Tampa is well set up to provide for students with learning difficulties. There are multiple federal and Florida state laws in place to ensure that children with disabilities have fair access to quality education at no cost.

Both public and private schools in Tampa have special programmes in place to support students with learning difficulties. Following an assessment, if a student’s disability is said to be too severe for them to be accommodated in the mainstream education system, several special facilities can offer those with special needs various programmes tailored to meet their specific requirements.

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Tutors in Tampa

As academic excellence becomes increasingly competitive, students are often expected to work outside of school to excel and stand out. Tutors are a great source of support for students who want that extra edge in preparation for university admissions exams or simply to keep pace with a new curriculum. Thankfully, there are plenty of private tutors at hand in Tampa.

We’d recommend parents begin by enquiring at the child’s school to find out about recommended tutors in the local area. Failing that, families will find a number of established tutoring agencies that can assist. These companies typically have various packages, ranging from subject-specific programmes to one-to-one classes and group sessions.

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Expat Health Insurance

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