Keep them small

18th April 2008 at 01:00
In the interview with Dave Harris, "The Conversation: All through schools" (TES, April 4), the retiring principal of one of the new vogue all-age schools praised mixed-age teaching; teachers worked more flexibly across the school and across age groups and he could see "no educational basis for separating pupils solely by age".

The virtues he described are already well documented in almost all Ofsted reports on small schools, however. Ofsted has recommended a place for small schools in national provision. But as LEAs enthuse to do government bidding, putting all their eggs into big-school baskets, our dwindling stock of small schools is threatened.

Cumbria says schools under 50 must not survive. Why? Schools under 100 on roll are getting the best results nationally and the Scottish government reported in 2006 that children in its smallest schools had a 25 per cent better chance of reaching higher education. Why then do we need all-age schools at great expense just to capture qualities already thriving in smaller schools? Research affirms that as schools get bigger, the gap between rich and poor widens. We need small schools.

Mervyn Benford, Information officer, National Association for Small Schools, Shutford, Banbury.

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