Of the 99 schools that petitioned the government of the autonomous region, only one, Cristobal Colon primary school in Albacete, was refused permission to drop the bilingual programme after parents voted unanimously to keep it.
In the last decade, bilingual state schools teaching some subjects in English or French have spread rapidly across the regions of the country where Castilian Spanish is the first language.
Educational outcomes in the richer regions, such as Madrid, have reportedly been good across all academic subjects, although critics of the system complain it discriminates in favour of middle-class families who can afford to send their children to private lessons after school.
Academic results have been more disappointing in the rural areas where it has proved difficult to find teachers with a high enough language level to teach their subject in English.
Spain’s anti-Clil campaigners have celebrated the decision in Castilla La Mancha as a victory over a divisive and discriminatory system.
Supporters of bilingual education, however, also welcomed the move, described by Xavier Gisbert of the association Enseñanza Bilingüe as ‘difficult but a brave and wise decision’.
The roll out of bilingual schools in the region was uncontrolled and excessive, he argued, and the logical consequence of this expansionism was to drop the programme, at least temporarily, in schools that were struggling to cope.
‘The Asociación Enseñanza Bilingüe celebrates this measure,’ Gisbert told the Gazette, ‘and we hope that it presages the beginning of a real improvement of bilingual education in Castilla La Mancha.’
The regional government has already announced the introduction of bilingual teachers into 35 other schools.
Pic courtesy: Iglesia Valladolid