Madrid to keep schools open to pupils during holidays

Madrid's regional president has announced that schools in Spain's capital will be open during holiday periods such as Easter and Christmas so that pupils can take part in learning and extracurricular activities while their parents work.

Pictured: Children at school (Photo by DESIREE MARTIN / AFP)

From January 2024, schools in the Madrid Community will be open during non-school days for children aged 3 to 6 in early childhood education (Educación Infantil) and those aged 6 to 12 in Primary Education (Primaria).

“The regional government is going to do right by families and help them face day-to-day challenges and ongoing childcare issues,” Madrid’s Regional President Isabel Díaz Ayuso said on Monday as she made the announcement.

The aim is to support students with their studies as well as offer language learning, sports and arts and crafts activities during the holidays.

The average school year in Spain is made up of 175 days of class, whereas in other European countries such as Italy and Denmark it’s around 200 days a year. During the summer, most Spanish schools are closed for two and a half months. 

READ ALSO: What childcare options are available over the summer in Spain?

This is one of the reasons behind Spain’s problem of conciliación familiar, the difficult work-family balance that parents face as they can’t afford that much time off work to take care of their kids.

In order for the measure to be approved, the Ministry of Education must sign an agreement with the different Madrid municipal councils and owners of each education centre.

In addition to this, Ayuso said that her government is going to financially help all those families who are facing challenges so that their children can access extracurricular activities.  

READ ALSO: Spanish cities among least expensive in Europe for international schools

“No student is going to stop visiting museums, going to the theatre, taking part in excursions or learning an instrument due to a lack of financial resources,” she explained.

According to the regional government’s calculations, €12 million will be allocated for both measures and 200,000 families stand to benefit.  

The divisive leader also announced plans to decrease the number of students in each classroom to improve the teacher-to-student ratio.  

The same ratios that were in the second year of early childhood education (ages 3-6) will be extended to secondary education (ESO level ages 12-16) so that the number of students per class will go from 30 down to 25.  

Last September, the regional government already reduced the numbers in primary education from 25 to 20 students per class.

“To start this course, the number of teaching staff was increased by 219 and an investment in the educational infrastructure of more than €1.3 million was made with the aim of adapting the spaces. For 2023/24, it is expected that we will recruit around 650 new teachers,” Ayuso stated.

Investment in education is reportedly a priority for Ayuso and her government, which this year will spend €130 million to build four new institutes, a school and five nursery schools. The expansion of another 23 centres distributed across 19 municipalities will also be carried out.

“These are actions that aim to respond to the needs of schooling in public schools in our region and will mean the creation of about 12,000 new school positions,” a regional government spokesperson said.   

READ ALSO: Almost half of Spanish families pay for private classes for their children

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Spain has highest number first-time mothers over 40 in the EU

Almost eleven percent of births in Spain are to mothers over 40 years of age, a new study has discovered.

Spain has highest number first-time mothers over 40 in the EU

More and more women in Spain are waiting to become mothers and the numbers are increasing every year, according to a recent study prepared by FUNCAS, a Spain-based think tank.

The percentage of older mothers went from 1.8 percent in 1993 to 10.7 percent in 2021. The numbers have multiplied by six since 1993 and are double the rates of some neighboring countries.

In 1981 the average age a woman gave birth in Spain stood at 28.2 years. In 1996 it went up to 30 years and currently, it stands at 32.6 years, the second oldest in the entire EU, only behind Ireland, where the average age is 32.7 years.

READ ALSO – Readers reveal: What it’s really like to give birth in Spain 

Co-author of the study María Miyar explains that the data is a reflection of social evolution; “In the 70s, babies born to older mothers corresponded to being the youngest within large families, but now maternity is delayed in families that end up having fewer children”.  

This is not the only cause of this change in figures, however, it’s also down to several factors including financial situations, women having more prominent careers than they used to, a change in social norms, and higher infertility rates.

A recent study for example found that two out of three Spaniards continue to live with their parents at age 34, meaning that they’re not in a position to be financially dependent enough to start their own families in their mid-30s and are forced to wait longer. 

READ ALSO: Why, despite rise in youth employment, Spaniards continue to live at home age 34

While Spain has the highest number of babies born to mothers over 40 at 10.7 percent there are several neighboring European nations that are close behind. Greece has a total of 9.7 percent, Italy 8.7 percent and Portugal at 8.6 percent.  

However, the rates in Spain are double those registered in northern or central European countries such as France at 5.1 percent, Germany at 4.9 percent and Sweden at 4.6 percent.

There is also a disparity between various regions within Spain. The highest percentage of births to older mothers occurs in Galicia at 14.4 percent, followed by Asturias at 12.4 percent, Madrid at 12.3 percent and Cantabria at 12.2 percent.