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Back to school with higher numbers and a positive outlook

The new school term opens its doors to 1,562,780 students with two innovative projects

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12 September 2017 07:28 PM

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ACN | Rachel Bathgate

The new school term began on Tuesday, already set to achieve an ambitious task: turning some of the year’s difficult subjects into positive, teachable moments. Specifically, the aftermath of the Barcelona and Cambrils terror attacks and the repurposing of the infamous Model Prison.

These projects come at a time when attendance is also up, with a total of 1,562,780 students enrolled in this school term in Catalonia, alongside 5,514 new educators – both representing a growth of 7%, and setting the student / teacher ratio to 12.9 in Preschool and Primary education, and of 10.6 in Secondary and up. With more people comes the need for more space, which is why 15 more schools have been opened and current ones remodeled.

In the city of Barcelona

The Catalan capital saw 179,221 students starting a new term today. This shows a growth of 1.22% compared with last term (with an enrollment of 177,058), as communicated by the Consorci d'Educació de Barcelona organization. 10 new schools were opened in Barcelona to handle this growth, with the amount of educators increasing to over 10,000 (a 6% growth). The support for special education has also grown, with 7 new units and 17 more psychopedagogues on the counselling staff within the city of Barcelona. Additionally, individuals to accompany students within the classroom have also increased by 7%.

  • "The response has been very positive"

    Josep Polanco · Director of territorial services of Catalan Department of Education in Girona

From prison to preschool

Out of the 10 new centers in Barcelona, one stands out: it’s housed in the Model Prison. The oldest in Barcelona, this central correctional facility – seen as a standing symbol of Francoist oppression - was closed in the summer of 2017, and has now been given new life.

It goes by the name Eixample 1, although that denomination is set to change as the project evolves. Starting at preschool level, the project is made for around 50 children and 8 teachers. It’s focused on the individual development of each child, explained Ferran Galimany, principal of the Eixample 1 school. Galimany further highlights the importance of games in the program, which play a fundamental role in the formative years of a child and are therefore “very present.”

Despite the unusual grounds, Galimany described the atmosphere as “very good” and “warm,” which the principal attributes to the families’ trust in the project – even without having seen the school. The principal further explained that the school’s peculiar history is not being ignored. “A lot of things happened here,” detailed Galimany, the last of which is the creation of the school, which he wants to be “part of the history of this place,” he added.

Training on mourning and diversity

Ripoll, the Pyrenees mountain town home to the young men responsible for the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks, has taken the tragedy as a learning opportunity. There, 1,360 students returned to the classrooms this term, and teachers were offered special training to address the tragedies. If they so choose, educators can be trained to manage students’ grief and, simultaneously, to teach them about diversity, two of the issues that are central to life post-attacks in Ripoll. The response has been “very positive,” according to the director of territorial services of Catalan Department of Education in Girona, Josep Polanco.This all follows a first meeting with students’ parents held last week, where the subject was already discussed.

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  • A child and her mother go into the new Eixample 1 school in Barcelona (by ACN)