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Secondary schools are too big

John Rentoul

schools 300x158 Secondary schools are too big

This is a repeat of an old blog post of mine, from about three years ago, I think, in which I agreed with Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, that the expansion of secondary schools in the 1970s and again from 1990 to 2005 was an educational and social disaster.

These figures, “Average size of UK maintained schools 1950-“, go up to 2010, and say that new figures will be available in April this year.

Secondary schools have expanded from an average size of 300 pupils in 1950 to nearly 1,000 now. The trend seems to have turned downwards, but if anyone can tell me what the dashed line represents, I’d be grateful.

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  • ribock

    In the early 1940s I attended New York City’s tiniest 2ndary school – Far Rockaway: over 1200 students. No special scientific or academic qualifications were required. Yet we claimed 3 Nobel Prize winners within 5 years, including Richard Feynman (and most certainly *not* me!) You can look it up.

    Oh I suppose you’ll dismiss that as a special case of just before wartime in a quite different culture and an upwardly striving population to choose from, but even so you had a huge school by British standards and large classes, often over 40 kids, and Far Rockaway was a sample set of just 1, and so not significant. But even so …

    … that seems to hint that school size and class size don’t always determine outcomes. I expect to be swept aside by a deluge of learned arguments. But just sayin’…

  • creggancowboy

    Number of Tarquins and Fionas in Whitehall from public schools? My Dad was at Harrow;)


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