A couple of linked BBC News reports caught my eye today. The first, that schools are seeing an increase in the amount of spare capacity they have and the second that there have been demonstrations in Shropshire about proposed school closures and amalgamations. Here’s my thoughts…
First of all, it’s my fundamental belief that schools should be learning communities. And not just in a trite sense, but in a real sense. Within a community one usually knows or at least knows of pretty much everyone. That’s (just) possible in a school of around 1,000; it’s certainly not possible in a school of 2,000! I would say that an 11-16 school with around 150 students per year (750 in total) would be ideal.
Second, in my experience, bureaucracy increases almost exponentially with the size of the organization. When you get up to 2,000 students there need to be between 100 and 150 members of teaching staff, plus learning support assistants, plus administrative staff, etc. I would submit that this can sometimes lead to the focus being upon data and ‘outputs’ rather than actual learning experiences for each individual student.
Finally, schools need to be part of and feed back into the local community. They should not dominate the local community as monolithic schools tend to do. Schools should reflect the needs and aspirations of society whilst preserving a link to fundamental truths, ideas and values. They should not, however, dictate these. Smaller schools have more of a symbiotic relationship with the local community, I would say.
What do you think? Should ‘super’ schools be created? Do the ‘improved facilities’ make up for their faceless nature?