Does size matter? Debate emerges over effect of ‘super schools’ on pupils

Councillor Elaine Norman opens the Oaks Park High School Bricklaying ceremony to mark the start of t

Councillor Elaine Norman opens the Oaks Park High School Bricklaying ceremony to mark the start of the extension to Oaks Park High School. - Credit: Vickie Flores

A debate has broken out over the effect of large schools on education standards as Redbridge Council continues its school expansion programme.

Cllr David Bromiley (Con, Fullwell), who teaches geography at a school in Newham, said having big schools was “not a good model for education”.

He said: “Children do not do well in very large schools.

“It damages your relationship with the children [as a teacher], it damages discipline. You can’t possibly know all of the children.

“The greater the number of children the less education they can get. Primary schools tend to be smaller so it’s not such a problem there.

The problem in Redbridge is that we are moving in this direction of having too many big schools.”

But Cllr Bromiley admitted one problem was finding the land to build new schools, especially against the backdrop of the borough’s housing shortage.

Most Read

“There’s a lot of pressure in terms of planning to provide housing – we don’t have the same kind of obligations to provide infrastructure,” he said.

“From an educational point of view there should be more emphasis on finding new sites for schools.”

Kash Mallick, secretary of Redbridge NUT, said concerns were more focused on class size rather than school size.

He said: “I don’t think the size of the school makes a difference.

“Even if you’ve got 1,600 pupils, if you’ve got good management, facilities and resources, that’s the important part. If you’ve got large schools you’ve got more revenue and you can do more things.

“Class size is getting to be a concern in Redbridge. The council has pre-empted it. Hopefully in the next year or so we will address it by these expansions.”

Cllr Elaine Norman, cabinet member for children and young people, pointed to Redbridge’s school results – with figures last month putting the borough fifth highest in country for GCSEs.

“We’ve got an excellent school improvement team working in partnership with schools, not only to maintain standards but to raise standards,” said Cllr Norman.