The TES is reporting that local authorities across the country are planning for a wave of “super-size” schools with between 12 and 16 forms of entry and up to 3,000 pupils.
Figures supplied under the Freedom of Information Act show that at least 17 local authorities – including shire counties and big cities – will have secondaries with 12 forms of entry or more once pupil numbers hit a peak over the next few years.
Eight of the “titan” schools will have between 13 and 16 forms of entry, and almost all of these schools will have more than 2,000 students. Two of the secondaries will cater for around 3,000 pupils each, the figures reveal.
Asked if he was concerned about such growth, schools minister Nick Gibb told TES: “If you look at Shanghai, their schools are very large and they produce some very high standards of education.” One of Shanghai’s top state schools, Shanghai High, has more than 3,000 pupils.
But Mr Gibb added: “The danger of creating schools too large is they may struggle to attract parents.” Expansion must be balanced with “whether they can be confident they can maintain good behaviour and good academic standards”, he said…
Exmouth Community College in Devon is set to be one of the largest schools, with 2,860 students and 15 forms of entry on one school campus by 2018. At present it has 2,400 students. Headteacher Tony Alexander told TES the school had 163 full-time equivalent teachers, two staffrooms and four restaurant areas. “Although there are some disadvantages to being such a large school, the advantages outweigh them,” he said.
“We are able to provide a broad curriculum that other schools could not afford. And we have a wide range of children with different qualities and different attributes, which can only be good…The main disadvantage is that, as a head, I can’t know all the children individually.”
Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said school expansion did not tend to affect standards…
See more in the latest edition of TES
We need more places and sites for new schools are going to be extremely hard to find – unless we start busing children to out-of-town schools on brown field sites (and even then local authorities can’t build new schools) – so do these ‘titan’ schools make most sense?
If you work in one, how would you describe the advantages and disadvantages? And is Nick Gibb right to suggest the biggest barrier may be parental perceptions?
Please share in the comments or via Twitter…
Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link