Francisco de Paula Ruiz Estévez founded the School in 1885. In 1886 the School moved to 15 Calle de los Alcázares, its present location. As, at that time, schools could not issue official qualifications, it was a member of the General and Technical Institute, now the San Isidoro Institute, with which it has always maintained a close relationship.
Francisco de Paula Ruiz Estévez headed up the School for ten years and made José María Rey Repetto (Mathematics teacher from 1890) his deputy head in 1896-97. He also retired that year, allowing José María Rey to manage the School alone, and to buy it for the sum of 1,500 pesetas, within the next two years. This marked a new era for the School, which, for the next one hundred years, until 1997, was managed by three successive generations of the Rey family.
José María took charge of studies, while his wife Teresa Guerrero looked after the School’s administration. According to José María himself, in a document outlining the teaching faculty for the school year 1900-1901, twelve teachers were working in the School in total. He taught Geography, Astronomy and Physics and a little Arithmetic, Geometry and Gym. José María had a highly talented teaching staff, among them José Mariano Mota Salado, who went on to become a professor and later vice-chancellor of the University of Seville, Manuel Portillo Jochmann, later professor and Head of the General and Technical Institute, and Manuel Álvarez López, the School secretary until his death in 1939.
The School’s resources were already significant, even boasting equipment, scientific material and numerous contemporary books (both those that were standard at the time and those that were fiercely modern). The 1917 copybook of the pupil José Vivas Ustriz details more than fifteen experiments carried out during the school year.
However its most valuable resource, already evident in 1896, was, as it is today, the unquenchable zeal and tireless work of its Teachers. This was most evident in the Table of Daily Rankings. Respect and hard work have been characteristic of the School since its inception.
The General and Technical Institute’s 1911 to 1912 Report lists its member schools. Those still in existence are the Calasancio Hispalense (or the Scolopi, in the plaza de Ponce de León), Santo Ángel (in Albareda) and the Inmaculado Corazón de María (the Jesuit school in the plaza de Villasís), and Colegio de San Francisco de Paula - the only one left in the city centre.
In 1920, the Management and Teachers agreed that children of the teaching staff would not have to pay fees, but would receive their education at the School for free. The School and its Teachers (who also donated part of their salaries) were pioneers of what would later come to be known as social welfare. A similar regulation in relation to primary schools would be published in Spain, in the Official State Gazette on 6 October 1951…more than thirty years later!
The oldest of the Rey Guerreros, José Antonio, studied Teaching, Arts and Law. A lively man of great brilliance, he was at the Student’s Residence in Madrid at the same time as García Lorca. In 1923, the Director of the Institute authorised him to head up the School with his father José María Rey Repetto, who died in 1925.