This prestigious and internationally recognised bilingual project was set up by agreement between the Ministry of Education and the British Council in 1997 and was established in all of the regions then under M.E.C. administration. In Cantabria the project began in the Eloy Villanueva primary school and the first group of students from the primary school began at the I.E.S.Cantabria in 2004. The mandate for the MEC/Britsih Council bilingual project only covers the years of primary and secondary compulsory education and so the two years of further education at Bachiller level comprise a curriculum adapted to the demands of the students in the subject of English as a foreign language.
At the present time the bilingual project offers the subjects of Social Sciences and Natural Sciences (which separate into Biology and Geology as one subject and Physics and Chemistry as the other in 3º ESO and 4ºESO) and Music as well as five hours per week of English adapted to the demands of the project (which means students have an hour extension to their normal timetable on Tuesdays and Thursdays).
At the present time the Geography and History department employs a full time British state school secondary Geography teacher while the Science department employs a British state school Biology teacher as a specialised classroom assistant alongside other subject teachers with the corresponding language accreditation.
Families that wish to register their children in the bilingual project in any of the school years should contact the Head of Studies to receive information regarding the necessary steps.
Any student that wishes to join the project will also be required to show the necessary level of linguistic competence in English that corresponds to the school year they would like to join. As a rough guide a student entering 1ºESO should have a level of A2 according to the Common European Framework of reference for languages while a student entering 3º/4º ESO should be able to demonstrate a B1 level of English.
The I.E.S. Cantabria is also a University of Cambridge International Examination Centre.
In 2008 the M.E.C./British Council bilingual project reached an agreement with Cambridge International Examinations (C.I.E.). This organization is a non-profit making body which provides, among other qualifications, certificates for secondary school students in more than 150 countries. The I.E.S. Cantabria is accredited to organise International General Certificate of Secondary Education qualifications (I.G.C.S.E.s) in the subjects of Geography, Biology, Music, Mathematics, Spanish and English. Within the U.K. five of these qualifications is the requirement to be able to continue onto further education at the level of Bachiller while a good pass in English is recognised as a B2 equivalent and also recognised by the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and New Zealand as meeting University English language requirements for applicants to their degree courses.