1973-1984: Turmoil

1973-74 ushered in a new era. The number of students had increased from 600 in 1965 to 1200 in 1975 and there had been a proportional increase in new staff. This ensured the continuing existence of the School on the one hand, but sowed the seeds of instability on the other; an instability that was to prove dangerous in the years to come. Between the new hires and retirements, the School lost of a part its vital essence. 
The circumstances were, moreover, complex. In 1974, General Franco’s regime was coming to an end, and one could feel it in the air. However the pressure, if not the oppression, of the crumbling system only served to increase tensions, and the clear divisions evident within society in general were also reflected in the School. Added to this were the various individual interpretations of the 1970 Law – the famous “continuous evaluation” reference in particular – and certain psychopaedagogical theories in vogue at the time, which broke radically with traditional thinking in the field. 
Meanwhile, the State was drawing up a new system of subsidies for private schools. The Parents Association asked the School Management to avail of these subsidies, a request perfectly in accordance with their right as contributors. There was enormous reluctance, but the position of the School was understandable. After a period of deliberation, the School opted for the least compromising of the options, the so-called Ayuda a Precio, which was equivalent to 37% of fees. They send off the relevant request… and were granted the subsidy. However, new, additional challenges were to arise. 
Luis Rey Romero took over as Head Teacher in 1977. Almost from the outset, the new Head outlined the ideals that he would hold to: the need to continue, or increase, the community service performed by the School; the importance of coordinating the various subjects and qualifications; the benefit of drawing up a school curriculum to create a coherent and sound syllabus; and the dream of working towards cooperation between schools from different countries, to provide a more international education. For the most part, his words, ahead of their time, fell on deaf ears. Moreover, the ambitions of some leant more towards politics… 
It is, as they say, a funny old world! After forty years labelled as “reds”, the new liberals dismissed the School as “fascists”. These criticisms did not come from the alumni among the traditionally progressive families, nor from the conservatives, whose children had studied alongside them – a coexistence, as always, governed by the abiding rule of respect. Where therefore, had it come from? Throughout this period, MENDRUGO displayed an acerbic tone, and often contained ferocious criticisms (not always spontaneous) of anyone and everyone… 
The teachers, meanwhile, did not neglect their subjects. The drop in EGB (Basic General Education) levels was not overly dramatic, and most years saw the School receive more than one Special Prize. 1983, moreover, saw the School receive two National Prizes, for Luis Gahona Fraga and Antonio José López Tarrida. 
During the year 1983-84, Luis went to Madrid to try and find a solution to the deficit that had resulted from the subsidy shortfall. What was he advised to do? To let his staff go and to employ younger, cheaper teachers. His reply was a forewarning of changes to come. He responded that a school was not its bricks, but its people, and that if redundancies were the solution the Administration was presenting him with, he would have to find another. That same year, the Regional Government of Andalusia praised the School for its Annual report. 
On 4 July 1984, he took a momentous decision, and announced that, unless circumstances changed considerably, following consultation with the Teaching Staff, the Parents Association and the School Board, and in accordance with one of the options provided by Law, the School would become private from the year 1984-85. Collaboration, at that time, was not an option…

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