Britain's biggest secondary proposed in plans to deal with pupil places crisis

Kaye Wiggins

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An East London local authority is drawing up proposals for a “titan” 16-form-entry secondary school, as the pupil places crisis deepens, TES can reveal.

Barking and Dagenham Council has asked all its secondaries to consider admitting more students and has requested that one school consider growing to 16 forms of entry, which would take its roll to more than 2,500. 

If the proposal is agreed, the school would become the largest of its kind in the country.  

It comes as councils across the country make plans to cope with the “unprecedented” bulge in pupil numbers that is moving up to secondary level. Growing rolls in primary schools have caused major upheaval over the past five years. 

Meanwhile, one of the country’s largest schools is considering expanding to 15 forms of entry. Julie Taylor, principal of Thomas Deacon Academy in Peterborough, told TES that her school was likely to grow from its current 12 forms of entry and could take an extra three forms. “We’re heavily oversubscribed and the situation isn’t going to get any easier,” she said. 

Emma Leaman, assistant director for education infrastructure at Birmingham City Council, told TES: “The numbers starting secondary school this year are higher than ever, and they will keep rising for at least the next 10 years.” 

She said she anticipated a “substantial appetite among secondaries to expand on their current sites and make more use of existing space”, because doing so would bring in extra funds at a time of squeezed budgets. “They’re starting to sweat their assets,” Ms Leaman added.  

Ruth Bagley, chief executive of Slough Borough Council, said the town was facing an “unprecedented” rise in secondary pupil numbers. Between 2012 and 2022, she said, the number of secondary places would have to rise by 64 per cent, with the number of forms of entry across the borough’s secondary schools rising from 57 to about 95. 

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Kaye Wiggins

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