Educating in Manlleu since 1880
La Salle Manlleu (formerly called Col·legi del Sagrat Cor de Jesús) is one of the most longstanding schools in Catalonia founded by the Brothers of Christian Schools barely exceeded in seniority by La Salle Comtal, located in the historic quarter of Barcelona. At present, not only does La Salle ount with 23 schools throughout Catalonia but it also enjoys an International Engineering, Architecture and Business University. These centres are part of an educational network with an outreach spreading into over 80 countries.
The first group of De La Salle Brothers came to Manlleu in 1880 responding to a request put forward by prominent members of the civil society and above all, by the determination of Father Pere Comas. The aim of this claim was to improve the educational situation within the town and accomplish it by following the Christian thought and ideology that had been proving its pedagogical efficacy since the 17th C, when Saint Jean Baptiste De La Salle founded the first schools which implemented his new methodological approach.
From the founding year to the Civil War (1880-1939)
On 18th April 1880, three Lasallian brothers arrived in Manlleu led by Enric Delaris (born in Cotlliure). Brother Delaris would become the principal of the school for virtually 35 years and a soon-to-be a distinguished citizen in the town. Without delay, the De La Salle brothers began to teach in a what had been a hall of the factory Can Barrera (nowadays the Sixth Form wing of the school) loaned provisionally by Mrs. Filomena Torrent.
Due to the fact that the Lasallian brothers strived to keep a tuition-free school, they encountered quite a few problems to carry on with their task as they totally relied on the financial contributions provided by relevant citizens of Manlleu. In 1885, the imperative to help with the upkeep and growth of the school, brought along the opening of a boarding school which would host local boys or the ones arriving from elsewhere. In order to assist the worse-off sectors of the population, the community also put their commitment to a Sunday School which was conceived to educate boys already in the labour market who were lacking formation and training.
The death of Brother Eric Delaris in December 1914 brought great disturbance both to the school and the town of Manlleu. Nevertheless, the educational institution continued growing and it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1930. Matching this date, Josep Sanglas fostered the creation of the Patronat de Cultura, which promoted the development of cultural activities open to all the citizens of Manlleu. Furthermore, he envisaged the tuition-free school and an evening school, to train the apprentices of local factories. The De La Salle brothers would also take care of both schools so the Patronat de Cultura was placed in a space adjacent to the main building in order to allow a fluent management.
During the Republican period, a new legislation that aimed at eradicating religious teaching was enacted. La Salle maintained its line by changing the ownership of the school. There were many social and political upheavals resulting in the beginning of the Civil War in 1936. In response to the conflict, there was a revolutionary outbreak in Catalonia followed by uncontrolled groups who led a religious persecution that put an end to the lives of various religious people. This was the case of three Lasallian brothers, among whom Brother Victori, manager of the Patronat de Cultura, who was killed at the beginning of the war. During this period, the Republican authorities, embracing a secular approach, set up the Escola Nova Unificada in the same site of the school and of the Patronat de Cultura.
1940-1960: Difficult years
After the harsh disruption caused by the Civil War, the Lasallian brothers regained the school installations and resumed their classes, although they would very soon have to face the wreckage derived from the flooding of 1940. Having overcome these setbacks, in 1944 Mr. Josep Sanglas transferred the building of the Patronat de Cultura in perpetuity to the De La Salle Brothers. In exchange, they would take care of the training and education of the underprivileged students apart from keeping the evening school open as far as the odds would allow.
In 1947, Col·legi del Sagrat Cor (nowadays known as Col·legi La Salle Manlleu) broadened its educational programme offering Baccalaureate studies, thus triggering a need of larger rooms and other areas which was duly met by performing major renovation works. In the same year, the institution Patronat de Formació Professional was established. It would be in charge of managing the vocational studies in collaboration with the Lasallian brothers not only in relation to teaching but also when referring to the use of the building. This agreement has remained unchanged up to the present day.
LThe cultural activity of Col·legi La Salle boosted form the 50s onwards thanks to the ex-alumni association (Associació d’Antics Alumnes) created in 1951. It proved itself very operational not only in the events which were organized to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the school in May,1955 but also for publishing the newsletter Delaris until 1970.
In the academic year 1958-1959, the school was entirely tuition-free, including the classes that fully depended on the Patronat de Formació Professional. At the time there were 150 male students who were able to receive a Lasallian education thanks to the scholarships and partial grants which the institution awarded their pupils with. This brought a redeployment of the different areas inside the school. The 430 students attending Elementary studies (the first four courses), First Year Baccalaureate and Commerce Studies were distributed around the wing nearest to the industrial canal (the original building). On the other hand, the senior students who amounted to a total of 320, could be found in the building of the Patronat de Cultura. The evening school, depending on the Patronat de Formació Professional, continued offering Vocational Studies targeted to train students who would most possibly work in local companies and factories.
1960-1980: Winds of Change
Life of the school was characterized by an increasing relevance of the vocational studies. For this reason, La Salle Vocational School was opened in December, 1960 entailing important reshaping and expansion works in the building of the Patronat. The final opening of this area took place in 1967. As we can still see today, the 4-storey building begins at the former building of the Patronat de Cultura and ends in Sant Antoni Street (Carrer Sant Antoni, aka Carrer del Gas). In addition, on 28th March,1963 a sports site was opened in Masies de Roda, where today you may find the facilities of Club Tennis Manlleu. In those years, pupils of the school following a brother to these sport fields would become a regular, well-known activity in our town.
The 70s brought along a certain amount of noteworthy social changes in relation to various fields, being education one of them. Col·legi La Salle followed suit in the wake of this decade. The General Education Law (Llei General d’Educació) was enacted in the last years of Franco’s dictatorship (1970) resulting into a restructuration of the educational levels: EGB (aged 6-14) and FP (Vocational Studies (aged 14 onwards). On the other hand, it also implied the incorporation of coeducation, concluding with the arrival of the first girls to our classrooms.
From the centenary to the 21st C
The celebration of the 100th anniversary of La Salle Manlleu took place in spring 1980. The covered pavilion was built in time for the commemoration, occupying part of the playground. At that moment, it was the only one in town. During the 80s, the De La Salle brothers renewed the agreement with the Patronat de Formació Professional, enabling the Patronat to deal with the management of FP-2 (Advanced Vocational Studies) and use the school facilities for the evening classes.
The decade of the 90s would carry substantive changes and a positive spur to the country’s educational framework with the application of the LOGSE (Act on the General Organization of the Education System). This fact favoured a complementarity agreement with the school El Carme-Vedruna, according to which this institution would take over Pre-school and Primary Education whereas La Salle Manlleu would provide ESO (Secondary Education) and Batxillerat (Sixth Form) as well as Cicle Formatius (Vocational Studies) under the management and supervision of the Patronat. This existing agreement is still valid nowadays, therefore allowing La Salle Manlleu to ensure an all-inclusive educational offer besides a quality learner-centred teaching methodology based on Christian values.