First day of the school year in a school in L'Hospitalet.
First day of the school year in a school in L’Hospitalet.Gianluca Battista

Families and schools are beginning to worry about not knowing when the next school year will start. It is only known that it will be the first week of September and that schools and institutes will open on the same day. But the educational community does not agree on the date: families want to start as soon as possible; the teachers prefer to delay it as long as possible (even after the Diada, as up to now), while the Department of Education remains silent, but defends a more intermediate position. The different positions have been reflected in the report of the School Council of Catalonia, approved in plenary session last week, but published this Thursday.

Traditionally it was known that the course began after the Diada, but last year the Department surprised by advancing its start by a week (September 5). This has generated uncertainty about what will happen in September. Rumors point to the 4th, but it will hardly be so because teachers and directors are directly opposed, since it only leaves them one working day to prepare the course, and Education is not interested in once again setting fire to the collective’s spirits. In addition, the teaching hours would be exceeded and it would mean enabling more days of free disposition to balance the days of the teaching staff.

What the Department has made clear is that the course will start the first week of September, and that all compulsory education (from 3 to 16 years old) begin on the same day, while post-compulsory education (Baccalaureate and FP) do so for a few days. later. Education at the moment does not announce the date it has in mind, because it assured that beforehand it wanted to hear the position of the School Council of Catalonia and the unions. Still, on several occasions the department has made it clear that deciding the day is up to them. All these movements and delays are not helping to rebuild trust between the educational community and the Department, which has been badly affected a year ago when Education unilaterally decided to advance the calendar.

The School Council -which brings together representatives of the Administration, teachers and families- held a plenary session on March 15 to discuss the school calendar. But it did not propose any date, on the one hand, because it did not achieve a consensus among its members, and on the other, because what the advisory body traditionally does is assess the calendar order that Education prepares.

The little consensus between the parties is reflected in the report resulting from the plenary session. Families ask “that the start of the course should be advanced as far as possible”, while the teachers maintain the opposite position and ask to delay the date as much as possible to have more days to prepare the course. The unions ask for at least five days, so bet because it does not start before September 8. For their part, the representatives of the Department are not defined, but, according to several members of the organization, they opt for early dates. Thus, the Council has only managed to agree on a general formula that proposes “maintaining sufficient time to prepare for the start of the course in September.”

In other aspects, there is consensus, and the body admits that advancing the start of the course “can contribute to the rationalization of the school calendar in relation to the summer break”, but it also points out that sufficient time must be guaranteed for the preparation of the course”.

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The teachers also demand to have the template beforehand to prepare the course. Although Education advanced part of the appointments at the end of June, these teachers do not join the centers until September 1, and some substitutes do not do so until the first day of the course.

However, the Education proposal should be known in the coming days. After last week’s plenary session, the Department assured that a sector table with the unions would be held beforehand, but it has not yet been convened.

Do not repeat the intensive in September

The full School Council also analyzed the report commissioned by Education to assess the intensive day last September, which was covered with hours of educational leisure with monitors. The document -prepared from the opinion of 72 people- reflects that teachers and families ask not to repeat the experience because of the little benefit it had on the most vulnerable students or because of the low quality of the activities, which turned this time into a moment guardian of the students, but without a pedagogical profile.

In the evaluation of the September afternoons, the School Council does not have a unanimous opinion either -the representatives of the Administration defend the initiative, unlike the rest of the sectors-, but it does admit that it should not be a measure that must be perpetuated. “The time model compacted in the morning and educational leisure is not sustainable over time due to the inequity that it can generate and the lack of preparation of the monitors,” the report states.

The different unions have presented individual votes in the Council report in which they criticize, mainly, the quality of the study commissioned by Education.

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