Choosing a school for their children is one of the big decisions that parents face when raising children. And it is because many factors intervene in it: the education model, the distance or proximity to home or work, languages, whether they will be able to pay (in the case of subsidized and private centers), ideology and Most importantly, if the child or adolescent will integrate into school. But what happens if, in addition, the parents do not agree on where to enroll their child?
“I always wanted to take my children to the French Lyceum in Madrid”, explains María P. (fictitious name). “I was so clear that it didn’t even cross my mind that it could be a problem, and a big one, with his father,” she adds. According to his account, the father refused to allow them to study in that center: “He wanted them to do it in the same school that he had studied: much more expensive, with little experience and very far from our house, about 35 kilometers,” he adds. “Those variants weren’t enough to convince him quickly, though,” she continues, “he eventually came to his senses and accepted. He now he is delighted ”.
Nieves Horcajo is the creator of the Coles y Guardes platform, whose objective is to provide detailed information on all kinds of centers in the Community of Madrid, although, given its success, she acknowledges that she plans to grow towards other communities. She personally visits the schools and establishes a comparator with all kinds of details: if it is public, subsidized or private; if he is religious or secular; what educational method does it have and what languages are taught; values by which they are governed; extracurricular activities that they offer… “I pay close attention to all the details because I know that it is a complex decision,” he assumes, “and my intention is that through my page they already make a pre-selection and then come to see the ones that interest them the most.” they liked it”.
As Horcajo explains, when it comes to giving priority to a school, you always have to try to choose the center that the parents believe best suits the child in the most objective way possible, even more so if there is no agreement between them. “Talking among themselves about the requirements and characteristics that the desired school must meet is important, always keeping in mind that the good of the child should be above their preferences.” “If the parents do not agree and they are schools that are similar in terms of educational projects and characteristics,” he adds, “it would be convenient to think about which of those that the father or mother prefers is more likely to be admitted.” The common admission criteria throughout the State (the communities with competences in Education can also establish their own), which are applied only in the event that there are not enough places to cover the demand, are the existence of brothers or sisters enrolled in the middle; the proximity of the home or workplace of one of their parents or legal guardians; the rent per capita of the family unit or that the fathers, mothers or legal guardians work in the center itself, among others. “In addition, the application must be signed by both parents, so agreement is essential; except if the impossibility of doing so is proven or one of them does not have parental authority.
The role of the mediator
When there is no agreement, a family mediator can be very useful. Mediation is a way of conflict resolution where an impartial and neutral third party facilitates the disagreeing parties to make their own decisions to resolve their conflict. This professional tries to make the parties understand the origin of their differences and their consequences, confront their visions and put themselves in the other’s shoes. Mediation allows the problem or grievance to develop peacefully, simplifying procedures and time, without emotional costs for children or additional financial costs, typical of contentious processes before the judicial authority.
“The mediator is an impartial third party who, in a neutral space, facilitates the parents’ communication so that they are able to resolve the disagreement,” explains Sofía Maraña, family lawyer and mediator, a very useful figure to resolve situations like this without have to go to trial. Although it may not seem like it, “disagreement in choosing a school in very complex divorces is more common than it seems,” adds the expert.
Maraña explains that during the informative session the mediator explains the principles of mediation: “They are confidentiality (what is dealt with in the sessions cannot be used outside), neutrality (the mediator lacks the power to decide the agreements), impartiality ( the mediator cannot have their own interests) and voluntary (parents can leave the mediation at any time)”. In addition, continues Maraña, if the mediator considers that the agreed pacts are unfair, he can invite them to obtain legal advice. “When we are faced with a discrepancy in the exercise of parental authority, such as the choice of school, the best way to resolve it is by negotiating or mediating, to avoid parents going to court,” he says. “This figure, unlike that of a lawyer, although they often have identical training, attends to both parents at the same time, there being no possibility that each parent has a different one. What is recommended is that the mediator have joint and individual sessions to find out the real interests of the parents regarding the choice of a particular school”, says the lawyer and mediator.
Mercedes Gil, an expert in Montessori pedagogy and director of the British Montessori center in Murcia, believes that taking into account what children need is the most important thing when choosing a school. “The first advice I would give to choose a school is to establish our objective, why. For example, if we want the child to get a 10 at all costs, we should not choose a center where emotional well-being is prioritized, because there will be a clash. If, on the contrary, what we prioritize is your health and happiness, let’s flee from highly demanding and bureaucratic centers ”.
“So, do we want an international education that allows the child or adolescent to go out into the world, or do we want them to be autonomous and free?” the expert asks. In Gil’s opinion, standardization can be counterproductive because there is no single objective that is supposed to be obtaining an official educational title, or going to the University to do a certain degree, you can also aspire to get the best out of the person, from our son, enhance his talents, creativity, curiosity or abilities: “The title is very valuable, and academic excellence, but it is not the only thing”.
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