At least 17 local councils plan to create schools for over 2,000 pupils, the Times Educational Supplement (TES) finds from Freedom of Information requests.
Speaking to the TES, schools minister Nick Gibb stressed his confidence that larger schools could produce very good results. "If you look at Shanghai, their schools are very large and they produce some very high standards of education. The danger of creating schools too large is they may struggle to attract parents," he said. Shanghai High, one of Shanghai's top state schools has more than 3,000 pupils.
As the population continues to grow, the demand for school places does too. In 2014 8.3 million pupils were enrolled in schools, a one per cent increase from 2013. This is expected to increase by almost 880,000 pupils by 2023.
With budgets being cut, it is impossible for councils to build enough smaller schools to cope with the surge of students in the next decade. The more viable option is instead to expand existing schools. A key benefit of this option is that larger schools will have the capabilities to offer a wider range of subjects to students.
Schools across the country are developing expansion plans to cope with the increasing intakes of students year on year. The first of these to be confirmed is a 16-form entry school planned by Barking and Dagenham Council in east London to cope with a dramatic rise in pupil numbers.
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 campus by 2018. At present it has 2,400 students. Head teacher Tony Alexander said: "Although there are some disadvantages to being such a large school, the advantages outweigh them. 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."
Posted by Alan Douglas