The report below is just the latest example of the resistance by Spanish parents and communities to education cuts and the privatisation of schools. It was sent to us by Anna Wolmuth* 

Parents and carers of children at Altabaca Infant School in the neighbourhood of Nueva Málaga are fighting against the closure of a class of 4 year olds. Moving from three to two classes in the year group would mean the number of children in each class rising from 19 to 28, with serious consequences for the quality of their educational experience, and the workload of their teachers.

As recently as 2010, Altabaca Infant School was adapted to have the infrastructure for three classes in each year group. Last year, however, two new ‘concertados’, private schools that receive public funds, similar to the model of Academies and Free Schools in the UK, opened in the area. The closure of a classroom in the public infant school will have a direct impact on the connected primary school, Ramón Simonet, and follows a disturbing pattern for state education of education ministries closing classrooms in state schools to encourage enrolment in the semi-private concertados. This was seen in the struggle of parents of Colegio Arkipreste de Hita in Madrid, who occupied an empty classroom for over three months to demand a local public school place for their three year olds. Closer to home, parents in the nearby municipality of Campillas are furiously resisting having to send their children to religious concertados because there are not enough places in the secular state primary school.

At the demonstration of parents, carers and supporters outside Altabaca Infant School, with a lively backing track of music and children’s voices coming from the classrooms, parents spoke about what they thought was special about this school. They passionately related examples of project-based learning that were being developed, with starting points that captured the imaginations of their children such as carnivorous plants, musical instruments and storybook monsters. Hopefully, with the strong support of the parents, neighbours, and the Marea Verde campaign for public education, three classes of 4 year olds will be able to benefit from these experiences next academic year.

 

* Anna Wolmuth is a UK teacher, who has been working in a primary school in Spain this year.