Rural school on verge of disappearing sees boom as families flee city life

Many families from urban areas moved to Vilada, in inland Catalonia, after the Covid-19 pandemic

Students on the playground at Vilada school
Students on the playground at Vilada school / Nia Escolà
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

July 9, 2024 10:05 AM

A rural school in Vilada, a town of 430 people in inland Catalonia, was on the verge of disappearing a decade ago. 

Thanks to the efforts of parents and former students, the school has attracted new families and now has more than 50 students

"The parents created a platform to spread the word about the advantages of the rural school in the area. Since then, the school has grown exponentially," says Quim Espelt, mayor of Vilada. 

One of the problems was that the town did not have a kindergarten, causing many children to go to another town and not return for primary school. 

The key moment came in 2016, when a pilot test was carried out for the school to include a kindergarten. 


Since then, the school has become attractive to many families seeking a new life outside the city. 

The family of one student, Berenguer, from Barcelona, moved to Vilada after the Covid-19 pandemic in search of a "quieter and more peaceful life." 

"We wanted a better environment for our children. We also wanted a town with a school, so they would not have to use the car every day," explains Sergi Martín. 

The differences in classroom density are staggering, with only 50 students in all courses in Vilada's school, compared to the usual 30 students per classroom in urban schools. 

"We are like a family. We are all together, we know each other very well, and there is a lot of interaction between older and younger children; they help each other," says school director Judit Contijoch.  

Thanks to the new families that have moved to Vilada from the city, the village's population has increased and the school is thriving. 

Children from the school in Vilada watching a chick
Children from the school in Vilada watching a chick / Nia Escolà