Artists

Madrid classroom portraits, shot one decade ago

6 August 2018
San Ildefonso, Madrid, Spain. Year 2 Primary, Reading and Writing, 5th December, 2007.

These children will become doctors, hairdressers, cooks, rickshaw drivers, photographers – any number of destinies await them. There are potential millionaires, celebrities and probably criminals too, and actually some of them may already have died or had children of their own. — Julian Germain.

Most of the people in these 10-year-old photos will now be in their twenties, but if they were to return to their own classrooms, they’d see that very little has changed since they left.

CP San Sebastian, El Boalo, Madrid, Spain.<br /> Year 6 Primary, Spanish Language, 13 February 2008

CP San Sebastian, El Boalo, Madrid, Spain.
Year 6 Primary, Spanish Language, 13 February 2008

CEIP San Ildefonso, Madrid, Spain. Year 3 Primary, Music, 11 February 2008

CEIP San Ildefonso, Madrid, Spain. Year 3 Primary, Music, 11 February 2008

The Formica desks, mint-green chairs and sea-green chalk boards are the same. Something else that also hasn’t changed is the diversity of nationalities in the classroom.

I recall there was a real influx of migrants from Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Far East. Some of the schools had entire classes of kids who’d only just landed and were being taught the language – interesting times.

CP Miguel Blasco Vilatela, Madrid, Spain. Year 3 Primary, mathematics exam, 14 February 2008

CP Miguel Blasco Vilatela, Madrid, Spain. Year 3 Primary, mathematics exam, 14 February 2008

Perhaps some things have changed, though: the children’s clothes, their hairstyles and the importance placed on such tribal identifiers.

IES San Isidro, Madrid, Spain. 1st Bachillerato, Artes, Dibujo Artístico, 6 December 2007

IES San Isidro, Madrid, Spain. 1st Bachillerato, Artes, Dibujo Artístico, 6 December 2007

IES San Isidro, Madrid, Spain. Year 3 Secondary, PE, 11 February 2007

IES San Isidro, Madrid, Spain. Year 3 Secondary, PE, 11 February 2007

Ten years ago, Facebook was a fairly new concept, and Instagram and Snapchat didn’t exist. These kids weren’t swamped in the distresses of social media and they probably didn’t even own a mobile phone yet.

IES Barrio de Bilbao, Madrid, Spain. Year 3 Secondary, Music. 14 February 2008

IES Barrio de Bilbao, Madrid, Spain. Year 3 Secondary, Music. 14 February 2008

Real Colegio Santa Isabel, Madrid, Spain. Year 2, Spanish, 15 February 2008

Real Colegio Santa Isabel, Madrid, Spain. Year 2, Spanish, 15 February 2008

These children were taught in some of Madrid’s first bilingual classrooms. The auxiliares de conversación programme was fairly new back when these photographs were taken, having been launched by the PP government just four years earlier.

IES San Isidro, Madrid, Spain.<br /> Year 2 Secondary, Mathematics, 5 December 2007

IES San Isidro, Madrid, Spain.
Year 2 Secondary, Mathematics, 5 December 2007

The children’s exposure to Brits and Americans was just beginning, and their English language skills would be developing quickly. The younger classes will really have benefited from this programme, while many of the older classes had just missed out.

IES Ortega y Gasset, Madrid, Spain.<br /> Year 2 Secondary, class tutorial, 12 February 2008

IES Ortega y Gasset, Madrid, Spain.
Year 2 Secondary, class tutorial, 12 February 2008

The kids’ outlook on life was different to what we’d expect of children today: these pictures were taken just months before the latest financial crisis hit Spain. The children in these classrooms were on the cusp of an optimistic future, and there’s no doubt whatsoever that this will have been profoundly stunted as a result.

IES Ortega y Gasset, Madrid, Spain. Year 2 Secondary, Technology, 12 February 2008

IES Ortega y Gasset, Madrid, Spain. Year 2 Secondary, Technology, 12 February 2008

Colegio María Inmaculada, Madrid, Spain. Year 2 Secondary, Social Sciences and History, 13 February 2008

Colegio María Inmaculada, Madrid, Spain. Year 2 Secondary, Social Sciences and History, 13 February 2008

IES San Isidro, Madrid, Spain. Year 1 Secondary, Compensatory Spanish, 11 February 2008

IES San Isidro, Madrid, Spain. Year 1 Secondary, Compensatory Spanish, 11 February 2008

But more than any other differences, there are now more foreign children in our classrooms than there were 10 years ago. These children of today are the Spain of tomorrow – a diverse, multilingual, globally minded army of future influencers.

Real Colegio Santa Isabel, Madrid, Spain. Mixed-age group, Integration and Compensatory Spanish, 15 February 2008

Real Colegio Santa Isabel, Madrid, Spain. Mixed-age group, Integration and Compensatory Spanish, 15 February 2008

CEIP Estados Unidos de América-Huarte de San Juan, Madrid, Spain.<br /> Year 4–7 mixed primary class, violin and cello workshop with Suzuki method.<br /> 12 February 2008

CEIP Estados Unidos de América-Huarte de San Juan, Madrid, Spain.
Year 4–7 mixed primary class, violin and cello workshop with Suzuki method.
12 February 2008

CEIP Estados Unidos de América-Huarte de San Juan, Madrid, Spain. Year 5 Primary, Science, 12 February 2008

CEIP Estados Unidos de América-Huarte de San Juan, Madrid, Spain. Year 5 Primary, Science, 12 February 2008

CP San Sebastian, El Boalo. Year 4 Primary, Spanish Language. 13 February 2008

CP San Sebastian, El Boalo. Year 4 Primary, Spanish Language. 13 February 2008

CEIP San Ildefonso, Madrid, Spain. Year 3 Primary, Music, 11 February 2008

CEIP San Ildefonso, Madrid, Spain. Year 3 Primary, Music, 11 February 2008

Colegio María Inmaculada, Madrid, Spain. Year 2 Primary, Mathematics, 13 February 2008

Colegio María Inmaculada, Madrid, Spain. Year 2 Primary, Mathematics, 13 February 2008

CEIP San Ildefonso, Madrid, Spain. Year 2 Primary, Reading and Writing, 5 December 2007

CEIP San Ildefonso, Madrid, Spain. Year 2 Primary, Reading and Writing, 5 December 2007

ARE YOU IN ANY OF THESE PICTURES?

If you see yourself or recognise anyone in these photographs, get in touch – we’d love to know what you’re up to 10 years on.


Thank you to Julian Germain for the use of his images, for your help in creating this article, and for 13 years (and counting) of inspiration.

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