Three classrooms must teach at least one main subject in Spanish, court rules

Ruling at odds with Catalonia's education law establishing Catalan as main working language

Pupils at Turó del Drac school on September 5, 2022
Pupils at Turó del Drac school on September 5, 2022 / Àlex Recolons
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

July 12, 2023 02:08 PM

July 12, 2023 08:59 PM

At least one more core subject must be taught in Spanish in three classrooms in Catalonia, after a ruling from Catalonia's High Court on Wednesday. The ruling is at odds with Catalonia's education law, which establishes Catalan as the working language in schools.

Judges studied three appeals against the linguistic immersion system in place in public and semi-private schools. The court partially approved the families' appeal that their school provide "effective and balanced" teaching in Spanish.

Thus, as well as Spanish language lessons, children will have at least one more core subject taught in Spanish.

On the other hand, the court ruled the claimants' request to cancel the linguistic projects of the affected schools.

Education department to appeal  

Catalonia's education minister Anna Simó responded on Wednesday, saying her department would appeal the decision in the Supreme Court

It was "shameful" that the government found out about the Catalan High Court's ruling via the media, Simó said. 

She accused the court of "wanting to take part in the electoral campaign," with the Spanish general election of July 23 less than two weeks away. 

Simó said she was not aware of what schools or individual classes were affected by the three families' appeals, nor did she know if they were the same schools that already had established interim measures in favor of the use of Spanish. 

The minister accused the Catalan High Court of being "very far from reality," and having a lack of understanding of how contemporary education in Catalonia works, not on a subject-by-subject basis, but on projects incorporating various subjects. 

The court asked for another core subject to be taught in Spanish "when schools no longer work like this, but work with transversal skills," the minister said.  

Simó sindicated the department will launch and appeal and do not plan to comply with the court's measures: "A sentence is not final until the entire procedure is over."

The education chief also accused the court of "playing politics by disregarding the legislation that parliament and the government have provided."

She criticized the Catalan High Court for making the ruling without waiting for the Constitutional Court to respond to an ongoing appeal to another High Court decision in relation to the law on language use in classrooms. 


The education minister also announced that the process to roll out the 'Second Title' of Catalonia's education law, pending since 2009, will begin on Monday and take "at least six months." 

It provides definitive guidelines for language use in schools and gives "legal security" to management teams, the education minister said. 

Catalan in schools

Article 11.1 of the Catalan education bill states that "Catalan, as Catalonia's own language, is the usual language used as the working and teaching language in the educational system." 

The Catalan immersion system is in place to strengthen the use of the language. As Spanish is the dominant language in the media and online, the education policy is designed to protect the Catalan language, ensure bilingualism, and avoid the creation of separate language communities. 

But some political parties want a change, and some families have asked schools for their children to be taught in Spanish as well as Catalan.  

The conservative People’s Party and Ciudadanos have criticized the system and challenged the method in court. In November 2021, the Spanish Supreme Court ruled that 25% of school instruction must be done in Spanish, a decision has not been implemented and which the Catalan government has appealed. 

The Catalan parliament then passed a new law with the intention of protecting Catalan in schools, considering it the working language in classrooms, with Spanish named as a "curricular" language. 

The government also signed a decree that the use of languages in classrooms should depend on the sociolinguistic situation of each school and its pupils and not a "homogeneous" plan obliging all schools to have the same specified amount of hours in each language. 

Both were passed to avoid having to enforce the Supreme Court ruling. 

The current Spanish cabinet said that because education is a devolved power, it is the Catalan government rather than the Spanish government who should enforce the ruling on teaching 25% of classes in Spanish. 

After the July 23 Spanish election, a new Spanish education law could be implemented. Since the restoration of democracy after the Franco dictatorship, new governments have pushed for a new education system. Since 1980, eight different education laws have been passed.