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Audacious plan for east London secondary to become Britain’s biggest – dramatic expansions expected elsewhere to meet demand for places

11 September 2015 2,138 views One Comment

Sarah Cassidy Independent
Friday 11 September 2015
welcome-back-to-schoolThe growing crisis over the shortage of school places could see “titan” secondary schools swell to cope with thousands of extra pupils, despite concerns over the impact on children’s education.
As local authorities try to cope with a surge in demand as a result of earlier increases in the birth rate, with those children now moving from primaries into secondaries, one east London council has drawn up proposals for a single secondary school to take in 16 forms of new pupils each year.
The council, which has asked all of its nine secondaries to consider admitting more pupils, is not alone in resorting to expanding existing schools to cope with the situation. Councils in Birmingham, Peterborough and Slough are also considering major expansions to cope with the “unprecedented” rise in demand.
Official government figures, published last year, project that by 2023 there will be 8,022,000 pupils in England’s schools – up from 7,143,000 in the current academic year, a rise of almost 880,000 pupils.
But education experts have warned that “titan” schools could damage their pupils’ prospects and have called for funding to create new, more modestly sized institutions.
Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, has warned: “If you are an 11-year-old who has left a small primary school, to walk into a secondary school with a couple of thousand students, could be very off-putting. It will take some of them a long while to feel known and valued at school,” he told The Independent.
“Education is not just about working towards exams, it is about developing as a person. Many leading schools have rejected the chance to expand because they feel that the optimum size is between 800 and 1,200 students. The answer is to build more local schools.”
Emma Leaman, the assistant director for education infrastructure at Birmingham City Council, said: “The numbers starting secondary school this year are higher than ever, and they will keep rising for at least the next 10 years.”
She anticipated a “substantial appetite among secondaries to expand on their current sites and make more use of existing space”, to bring in extra funding at a time of tightening budgets. “They’re starting to sweat their assets,” Ms Leaman added.
Ruth Bagley, the chief executive of Slough Borough Council, said her town was facing an “unprecedented” rise in secondary pupil numbers and planned to expand three of its 11 schools.
Since 2012, the borough has been trying to create a 64 per cent rise in secondary places by 2022 – an increase in entry forms from 57 to about 95.
Nationally, council leaders warn that by 2018, 60 per cent of areas in England will have a shortage of primary places despite schools going to “extraordinary lengths” and converting non-teaching space into extra classrooms.

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One Comment »

  • Mike Wade said:

    On choice of languages in school, obviously we do not know what languages our children will need later when they might travel and even live in another country, so we need to ensure they have language training which gives the best preparation for any later language they might need to learn. Research has shown this is not given by moving between national languages at all. This is because they were never designed to be easy to learn as they evolved over centuries from when only the king and his court needed to be literate. National languages are communication software based on tradition and not on logical design for ease and speed of learning. We all know the difference between good and bad software. In 1887 a linguist, Ludwik Zamenhof published a new language which has been found to be the best example of good language software(not so far bettered) by every child that has learned it – it is called Esperanto. It is so efficient to learn that children are sufficiently fluent to use it quite well after only a year. So as we don’t live in a single faith world but in a multi cultural and multi religious world, then as parents we should be seriously checking the research for best practical results for assisting our children to live together and co-operate in the real world. This means not transferring directly between national languages which in practice are bad software for learning, which is why fluency outside one’s own birth language is so difficult to achieve using the wrong method of starting with bad software, usually taking well over ten years. Compare that to our children becoming able to communicate after only a year with Esperanto. When they are not much older they will be saying, ‘Hang on parents, why on earth didn’t you tell us about this advance for us all, and why didn’t our schools use it?’ So parents, as you’re already on the internet then check it out for the sake of a better future for all of our children together, African parents already have and their children are using it. Then ask what your child’s school is doing about it.

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