St Anthony's College, the first British school to open on the Costa del Sol, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last weekend. The milestone event was marked with a special open day where teachers, former and current students, and parents came together to share their stories and experiences concerning the school's long history.
A celebratory party took place in the school grounds and included live entertainment and a huge paella, along with pony riding, a bouncy castle and face painting for the children.
A speech was given by the school's owner, David Noble, during which he praised the foresight of the college's founder, Patricia Goold, a music teacher, who, after moving to Spain, saw that there was a demand for British education on the Costa del Sol. She opened the school to just six children in 1968.
Setting up a British school in pre-democratic Spain was an endeavour in itself; however, after overcoming numerous obstacles, the school began to expand. By the mid 1970s, the school had outgrown the small room in the Plaza de la Constitución in Fuengirola, and so it was decided to move to a larger building, next to the river that divides Fuengirola from Los Boliches. At the time this area was virtually open countryside and catered well to the school's needs. St Anthony's continued to grow and moved once more in 1981, to Avenida Acapulco in Los Boliches, and then in 1994, to its current location in Mijas Costa.
The college has undergone many modifications over the years, including the building of a new science block and state-of-the-art kitchen, a football pitch, multipurpose hall, new classrooms and additional buildings.
During its 50 years of existence, the school, which has a large range of nationalities in both its student body and its teaching staff, has had to comply with various regulations to be accepted as a British School in Spain, recognised by the British Council, and also by the Spanish Ministry of Education.
Today the school has more than 250 students between the ages of three and eighteen. A number of students have entered into successful careers and these include Olympic swimmers, top class chefs and international models.
Head teacher at St. Anthony's College, Richard Sutcliffe, explained to SUR in English why be believes the school has been a success. "As a school our philosophy has always been to educate the students in all aspects of life, from simple respect to academic success. We have steadily improved our IGCSE and A-level pass rates, matching top schools in the UK, which is down to the hard work of our students and the dedication of our teachers."
Richard, who has been teaching at St Anthony's for seven years, also praised the school's founder. "As head teacher of St Anthony's College, it is pleasure to oversee the college's fiftieth anniversary year. Unfortunately, Patricia Goold passed away this summer. She was ever present at the school and always made sure she got to know all the students as much as possible."
President of the student body, Holly Goldsborough-Pike, praised the school's philosophies, saying, "It truly is like a family away from home; always making you feel comfortable and safe, all the while pushing you to always do more, do better. St Anthony's College has taught me vital lessons that will stay with me for the rest of my life, from the power of giving to others to the knowledge that with people's never-wavering support you can do things you never thought possible."