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Community Information - Primary School - 'Two stage' - Capacity 47
Fife Council report calls for 'three stage' primary schools with minimum of 52 pupils
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FIFE COUNCIL - January 2005


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 an option.

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 working.

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 on campus.

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 school).

According to Fife Council, the current 'two stage' Kingsbarns Primary School capacity is 47.

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