The saturation in northern schools de L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelonès) has stirred up various agents of the public educational community of the second Catalan city. City Council and unions concur in demanding more resources and equipment to the Department of Education to give outlet to the needs of the neighborhoods of Collblanc-Torrassa, Pubilla Cases and La Florida-Les Planes.
“In all the schools in the north of the city we are at the limit”, warns Carlos Nadal, union delegate of CCOO Education in L’Hospitalet, who explains that, from the union, it has been three years since they declared the “schooling emergency” in the neighborhoods of the northern part of the second most populous municipality in Catalonia.
Thus, at the beginning of this 2022-23 academic year, the City Council estimated that, after completing the remaining ‘live registration’ from last September —referring to registrations that occur after the deadline—, L’Hospitalet would return to a occupancy close to 99% —taking into account both public and concerted—, with excesses of 103-104% in northern neighborhoods from the city, where the pressure is higher.
This scenario, recognized municipal sources, left the town practically without cushion for the rest of the ‘live enrollment’ that occurs throughout the courseespecially during the months of January and February, after the school year comes to an end in Latin America and when the arrival of students of migrant origin is concentrated in L’Hospitalet and, mainly, in the northern neighbourhoods.
“Everyone sees the need to fix this, but it is not fixed”, laments Nadal. Thus, according to the CCOO, in the northern zone, the (public) schools are already touching the 110% occupancy (the maximum allowed), something that translates into that if a group has 25 students per class, by adding 10% of students arriving by live enrollment, it has 27 or, in the case of centers of maximum complexity, of 22 students becomes 24.
The Councilor for Education of the City Council of L’Hospitalet, david quiros, remarks that “obviously, there is a very important need for places”. “We can go lower ratios, that with the live registration that we have we end up exceeding them”affects.
More groups ‘bolets’, less spaces
“There are no spaces. We have teachers giving reinforcements in the corridors because there are no classrooms”, remarks Enric Rafolsschool teacher pau casals from L’Hospitalet, located in the La Florida-Les Planes district. Ràfols explains that in the center where he works there are already four extraordinary groupspopularly known as ‘bolets’those created once the demand in a course and an area is so high that it forces to create an extra class.
“There are too many children and there are few teachers per group,” he points out sally next to the entrance of the Pau Casals school. “They have been taking spaces away from us. There is no psychomotor gym anymore because they have turned it into a classroom & rdquor ;, he adds for his part Neli. Both have children who study at Pau Casals and demand more teachers and reinforcements for the school.
Silvia Ortizdirector of the Territorial Services of Education in Barcelona Comarques, recalls that the problems of ratios go back years and although he comments that all the large metropolitan cities have a “remarkable & rdquor; live enrollment”, he acknowledges the “specific casuistry & rdquor; of L’Hospitalet, where, according to data from the Department of Education, in recent years there have been fifteen groups ‘bolets’, five of which during this academic year.
For their part, from the CCOO they point out that the situation of Pau Casals is not extraordinary and is reproduced throughout the northern zone. Thus, they defend that they are currently eighteen open ‘bolet’ groups.
“These extraordinary groups occupy two entire schools, since in a one-line school, if you count the three infant groups and the six primary ones, you get nine groups per school,” emphasizes the CCOO union delegate Carles Nadal, who, Given the number of extraordinary groups and the high occupancy percentages, he claims that Educació three new schools in the north of the city to appease the high demand.
lack of spaces
The neighborhoods of Collblanc-la Torrassa, Pubilla Cases and La Florida-Les Planes are one of the most densely populated areas of Europe, which is a great inconvenience when it comes to finding locations to, for example, build these new schools that are claimed by CC.OO. “The administrations pass the ball. The City Council provides some spaces that the Generalitat considers are of no use to it and we have been like this for three years& rdquor ;, asserts Carles Nadal.
In this way, Nadal proposes that, if the problem is the land, “the necessary laws should be modified so that smaller spaces can grow in height.” “The Department has certain criteria, which is totally logical, but when you find yourself in a dense city with little space It can’t be that it doesn’t fit this need“, reaffirms David Quirós.
In addition, the CCOO union delegate explains that, beyond saturation, many arrive at these centers students from other countries and that require a process of adaptation. “For example, kids who come from Ecuador and who, for whatever reason, haven’t been to school in two years. Then they arrive and because of their age they have to do fifth grade, but they haven’t been to class for a year and a half; This is a very big difficulty & rdquor ;, she says. In fact, the northern neighborhoods of the city have all a percentage of foreign population greater than 35%a long way from the city average (21.86%).
This is also explained by Enric Ràfols, from the Pau Casals school: “Extraordinary classes fill up with newly arrived students and you find yourself having to teach Catalan to twenty students at a time. A student body from Brazil or Senegal and would need more personalized attention. Ràfols points out that in the ‘Reception Classroom’ of his center, the one in charge of teaching Catalan to the newly arrived student and where he himself teaches, “there are 45 students and we have a teacher and a half”. For his part, David Quirós asks to sit down with the Department of Education so that “there is a real commitment to build new schools, because we need more places.”
Asked about the possibility of building new schools, the director of the Serveis Territorials d’Educació in Barcelona Comarques, Silvia Ortiz, says that “we are studying it & rdquor ;. “We are meeting with the City Council to see how we are at the level of plots & rdquor ;, she adds. Thus, as an alternative to opening new schools, both Ortiz and Quirós explain that they work in a new educational zoning of the citynot so marked by the borders of the different neighborhoods, and that “would allow more educational places to be obtained and fight against school segregation & rdquor ;, explains Ortiz.
In Infantile the ratios do not drop
A significant example of the consequences of the saturation of the schools of L’Hospitalet is found in students per class in child 3 —formerly known as P-3— from public schools.
Thus, the Department of Education announced in February that, for the second consecutive year, will reduce the ratio on I-3, a measure that “will already benefit more than 87,700 students & rdquor ;. Thus, of the total of 2,125 public offering groups, 91.3% would leave with a ratio of 20 or lessa figure that last year was 86.1%.
In L’Hospitalet, in the academic year 2022-2023classes I-3 they maintained a ratio of 22 students per class due to the high number of students. For the next course, a good part of the city will be able to go out to 20 students per class, but not the northern neighborhoods of the citywhich will maintain, at least for one more academic year, an I-3 with 22 kids in the classroom —not counting the ‘live registration’.
“Almost all of Catalonia will be in the course that comes with I-3 at a ratio of 20 students per class and in some municipalities, such as Castelldefels, they drop even more,” remarks Carles Nadal.