Top school heads not keen on expanding

Heads today dealt a blow to government proposals to allow popular secondary schools to expand.

Two thirds of heads of comprehensives at the top of this week's GCSE league tables said they would not take on more pupils, despite often overwhelming demand from parents. Seven of the 45 schools surveyed by The TES said they might consider expanding in the future. Eight said they were either planning to expand or were doing so.

Many heads of the top 75 comprehensives ranked on the proportion of five good passes, said it was not practical for their schools, to grow. Several said they did not have any land on which to build. Others said the school's character would change if it expanded, making it less attractive to parents.

Sir Alan Steer, head of Seven Kings high, in Ilford, Essex, said: "The principle of stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap may work in supermarkets but it is not a recipe for successful schools."

Ruth Kelly, the new Education Secretary, told the North of England Education conference last week that she was committed to allowing schools to "expand more quickly and more easily".

Academics have suggested that the proposal would concentrate problems in schools serving deprived communities. Successful schools tend to serve better-off areas, according to analysis of more than 500,000 pupils'

GCSEGNVQ results by two former National Foundation for Educational Research academics. These areas would be more likely to benefit from any expansion, they said.

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