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Spain goes back to school...even the Royal sisters
By thinkSPAIN Team Wed, Sep 11, 2019
CHILDREN, teens and young adults across Spain have been going back to school and college this week, and parents digging deep in their pockets to find the cash for textbooks and notebooks – which pupils are required to buy each year – pens, pencils, felt-tips, rucksacks, school buses, school lunches and, in some cases, uniforms.
Costs per pupil range from €200 to €800 depending upon whether they attend a State-run or private school, or a colegio concertado, a 'halfway house' between State and private and an ideal solution for mums and dads who want their children's education to have an extra 'edge' but cannot afford the full fees for private schools.
These costs are net of school fees for private or concertado schools, many of which require kids to attend in uniform.
Since the financial crisis, town halls and regional governments have been making an extra effort to help soften the blow to hard-pressed families' wallets, with textbook loan or exchange schemes and council grants towards costs in general, and some schools now offer free lunches to children whose families are on very low incomes.
If you're aged over 16, education or vocational training remains voluntary – unlike in the UK where young adults are required to go to college, sixth form or follow an approved apprenticeship scheme for a minimum of two years - but strongly recommended, since most jobs right up the scale from the most menial to the top professions require post-school qualifications, making it very hard for anyone with less than sixth form education to find work.
And between the ages of three and 16, nobody escapes the back-to-school rush – not even Royalty.
Crown Princess Leonor and the Infanta (non-Crown princess) Sofía started back today (Wednesday), even though most schools in Spain went back on Monday.
Their €7,000-a-year Santa María de los Rosales school in Madrid is a popular one with aristocracy and celebrities – Carlos Fitz-James Stuart, the current Duke of Alba and historic heir to the Scottish throne, if this still existed, is among the alumni – meaning the presence of the future Queen of Spain and her younger sister does not cause too much of a sensation.
But the school remains hermetically-sealed to all those outside of its community, so little is known of what happens in the classroom.
What information has been released, however, is that Princess Leonor – who started back in third year today, as she will be 14 on October 31 – is among the top pupils in her class and consistently achieves excellent grades, and that her sister Sofía, who was 12 in May, works very hard and never fails to hand in her homework.
Sofía starts back in the secondary school wing today, in first year, meaning she will see more of her sister between classes now she has finished primary.
Both girls play a musical instrument in school – Sofía's has not been revealed, but Leonor's is the cello.
Their uniform is similar to those worn by other girls at schools in Spain which use them – grey skirt, white shirt or polo shirt, navy-blue jumper or sweater, and black shoes.
Taking advantage of a rare day off from their punishing Royal schedules – and an even rarer day off together – the hard-working King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia were able to drop their daughters off at school today, talk to the teachers and other pupils' parents, and pose for reporters hanging around outside, waving to the photographers.
Queen Letizia was seen carrying the girls' PE bags and the girls themselves carried rucksacks full of textbooks and pens – Leonor's was the official Rio 2016 Olympic souvenir bag with the Spanish flag on it, and Sofía's is adorned with multiple keyrings and decorations in the shape of animals and shoes.
Both girls wore neat ponytails and black socks.
Although they rarely get to do more than drop the girls off at the gate and wave to them from the car window, the King and Queen do their best to talk to teachers and other parents in person as often as possible, since they want to keep as involved as they can in their daughters' education.
Spanish children have the best part of three months' holiday in summer, since they do not get half-term, but many will spend some of this time on educational activities – attending remedial English or maths classes, going to a summer camp for sporting, musical, artistic and academic training, or in some cases, on language courses abroad, and they will all have a substantial amount of homework to get through.
The Royal sisters are no exception – they spent a month in a youth camp in the USA to perfect their already-fluent English, although they were able to relax for several weeks on the beach at the Royal summer residence in Mallorca, Marivent.
All the above photographs were published on the Instagram site, Spanish Royal Family (@spanish.royals).
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