Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Downsizing Schools


Welcome to Big School- you are number 36927

A couple of weeks ago we blogged school size, arguing that the Cameron/Willetts wheeze of a grammar stream in every secondary school meant schools of 1500, which is FAR TOO BIG (see this blog).

This week's TES has an interesting article on size, describing how "28 state secondary schools, and a consortium involving three local authorities, are all involved in a Human Scale Education project with the Gulbenkian Foundation. They aim to create smaller learning communities and a more human experience for their pupils."

Based on successful US experience, Westlands School in Kent for example, has now split itself into four separate units, each with its own dedicated staff, and none bigger than 450 pupils. The head says: “The children have more pride in their school, they feel more confident and at home. And the teachers’ reactions have been positive, because they are able to get more involved with the children.” By 2013, the school will be rebuilt in three entirely separate areas.

The article also quotes Professor Alan Smithers, director of the centre for education and employment research at the University of Buckingham and special adviser to the House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, as estimating the optimum size for a secondary school at 800 pupils.

Just like the vast majority of independent secondary schools.

Or indeed, state secondaries pre the whole dismal comprehensive experiment.

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