| Community Information - Primary School - 'Two stage' -
Fife Council report calls for 'three stage'
primary schools with minimum of 52 pupils
FIFE COUNCIL - January 2005
OPTIMUM RANGE OF SIZE OF PRIMARY SCHOOLS
A number of factors need to be taken into account in
determining the optimum range of size of primary schools.
The organisation of a wide range of programmes of study is
easier in a larger school. In schools with multi-stage or two-stage composite
classes, the organisation of teaching and selection of resources is more
problematic. Additional planning is necessary to ensure a quality experience
for pupils and to avoid the duplication of teaching topics and resources.
In very small schools, peer learning is less likely to be
In order to ensure a quality experience for children and
young people, small schools have sought ways of delivering a wider experience.
These include, for example, links with neighbouring schools for the delivery of
certain parts of the curriculum. Such opportunities can lead to a richer
learning experience for children and young people but usually involve
travelling to access resources, facilities and/or work with other schools.
Transport costs, particularly in the rural area, can be prohibitive.
In schools with a roll of less than 111 the headteacher
very often has a teaching role. This means that the headteacher has to balance
the demands of leading and managing the school with teaching a class. In very
small schools, this is likely to be a multi-stage class.
There are enhanced opportunities for collegiality among
staff and greater opportunities for in-house continuing
professional development in larger schools. In double stream schools, for
example, a collegiate approach to planning and teaching (e.g. setting) is more
likely. Such approaches can lead to an enriched experience for staff and pupils
alike. Staff in smaller schools can experience a sense of isolation from
colleagues and particular arrangements have to be made to enable collegiate
Owing to the population base, smaller schools can offer
greater opportunities for children and young people to adopt leadership roles
and to participate in school events and activities. For example opportunities
are available to a larger percentage to be mentors and to participate in school
clubs and teams, orchestra, choirs and dramatic performances. This can lead to
a greater sense of belonging and pride in the school and community as well as
to personal growth. In larger schools, particular school events tend to become
the responsibility of stages within the school in order to give opportunities
for involvement. In smaller schools there is also greater potential for a
larger number of children and young people to influence the life and work of
the school and its community through consultation and involvement in
decision-making. Similarly, there is potential for greater involvement of
parents and those in the community.
The geographical location of schools clearly determines the
travelling distances for children and young people between home and school and
consideration needs to be given to the maximum desirable distances for primary
age pupils. This needs to be balanced with the provision of various facilities
and consideration given to schools accessing these where they are not available
Social deprivation factors, for example, free meal
entitlement (FME), are known to have a potential impact on attainment and
achievement of children and young people. The nature of a planned catchment
area of a school should be given consideration in ensuring that the school is
an appropriate size to allow best organisation of classes and effective
targeting of resources.
There is general agreement that larger schools face greater
challenges in providing for the social and emotional needs of pupils. Smaller
schools can encourage increased interaction among pupils across a wider age
range. In terms of the social and emotional well-being of children and young
people, closer relationships can exist between pupils and a greater number of
adults in smaller schools leading to more effective pastoral care. The strong
sense of identification and belonging can lead to an increased sense of being
valued and can alleviate the feeling of anonymity and alienation which can
exist in larger schools.
Based on the principles of learner entitlement and taking
into account the factors outlined above, it is proposed that the optimum range
of size of primary schools for Fife Council should be 52 pupils (to allow for
three stages of classes) to 444 pupils (to allow for a two stream
According to Fife Council, the current 'two stage'
Kingsbarns Primary School capacity is 47. more Community
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