September is already knocking on the door and the Swedish school in Palma has started the new semester. I spoke to the headmaster Therese Lottini who is very happy that the new project to get 16-year-olds to come and study have been so popular they have full house this semester, as full as it can get during Pandemic times.
Schools in the Nordic countries are a lot different compared to the state schools in Spain. Finland is ahead of all the schools with the best results all over. Back up north the books and even the school lunch is free. And the choice of schools is not immense like here. The state school is the standard one and it is very good.
In Mallorca the schools are a lot about money and if you are not prepared to pay a large amount of money, you children are expected to learn all the basics in Catalan. I’m not into politics at all but I do find it sad that an island that lives off tourism does not implicate more languages in the study plan. It would be amazing to start schools at 3 years of age with English classes every day.
Some 10 years ago the ruling government decided that the state school should teach 33% Catalan 33% Castellano and 33% English. An excellent initiative that ended in a catastrophe as the teachers were not prepared and the island could not fill the spaces for English teachers.
The headmaster of the school where my daughters were studying in the village called me and asked if I could consider coming in and give a couple of classes in English – “You can talk about anything” she said. I had to accept as it is not every day I have kids that listen to what I have to say for 40 min without interrupting. On the day of the class, I brought some bribes: Swedish sweets.
For the class of 9-year-olds, we talked about Sweden and the differences between living here in Mallorca and up north. I had a chance to explain that we do not have ice bears on the streets and for most of the winter there is no sun at all.
My daughters start new courses and new schools in the coming week, I have given up the stress of running around and trying to find all the books for the school start. Now it’s all ordered online. Saves me time and time is money. My youngest one starts the institute and this year they have decided to adapt to a book free school, and everyone admitted needs to come with a Chromebook, something that if you don’t have already costs 250€ per student.
I was wondering how many parents were pulling their hair because they cannot afford the material. Some lucky parents have a school bus that passes outside their house but for others we will soon start the struggle of driving our kids to school on time and then the same madness to collect them a few hours later. I am not looking forward to that.
Speaking of collecting and dropping kids in school nightmare, 13 years ago my oldest daughter started school in our village – She was only 2,5 as she is born in December.
She had been doing well in the public day-care school and she even had made some really good friends there. On the open day all schools made, we went to see Sagrada Corazon School, run by local nuns. We had seen the nuns in the village for years and as our daughter was one of the very few blond girls in the village, they already knew her name. I thought that was cute. I was still married, and my husband was Majorcan. He loved the idea of a catholic school for our first born.
We went to visit the school on the open day and the facilities in the old convent where ok except from the fact that there were no toilets inside the house, if the children needed the bathroom, they had to go outside into a very old fashion WC in the patio with Mallorcan shutters to close the door with.
Nun school was not amazing. Dropping my daughter off at the school in the morning was a nightmare as there was no parking on the narrow road and no pavement to wait on. The door opened at 8.50 and closed 09:00. Anyone later than that had to respond to the Abbess. The school also did split shift, morning, and afternoon classes. I had to go and pick her up for lunch and then drive her back in the afternoon for the last 2 hours of class. How could parents work with these hours?
After 2 weeks I had 3 notes for arriving late. We were not best friends me and the Abbess. It was frustrating for everyone. I hated being late but even parking the car outside the village and walking to the school was challenging: no pavements and loads of traffic. One day someone told me one of the nuns had put up a sign on the patio that the children were not allowed to run during their break, only walking.
Then another afternoon the Abbess called me “Your daughter fell and hurt her head, you have to come to school.” I dropped everything I had in my hands and rushed over there, only to find a very sleepy Vanessa with a big bump in her head. The teacher explained that she must have fallen asleep at her school desk and banged her head on the floor. That day I decided Nun school was not for us and I took her home with me.