Editorial comment: School places ‘crisis’ is not main issue

PUBLISHED: 07:15 27 September 2017

GCSE results, Barking Abbey, School Sandringham Road. Picture: PAUL BENNETT

GCSE results, Barking Abbey, School Sandringham Road. Picture: PAUL BENNETT


I have quite a pragmatic approach to life and business.

When it comes to problem solving it’s often not the problem but how you respond when faced with it that matters and you are eventually judged upon.

For 10 to 15 years I’ve heard and read warnings from authorities and independent experts about the school places “crisis” in London and parts of Kent.

With new housing developments shooting up, more families moving into the south east and a baby boom in recent years there becomes greater need for more spaces. It’s not rocket science.

In London this “crisis” is being handled with various authorities seeking funding and then going on a mass school expansion programme. It’s often simpler, quicker and more cost effective than building new schools. It ticks a number of boxes and if you have a hugely successful head why not increase the size of their school building, roll call and use their expertise and passion to influence a greater number of pupils and staff?

But expansion must be managed and tracked.

Getting bigger does not always mean better.

The real success of any school will be determined by motivated leaders, passionate teachers and engaged pupils. Teenage poet Tracy Agidi (see the Q&A) knows exactly what I mean as she credits her English teacher Ms Cooper as “the most inspiring person” she has ever met.

I’m more concerned about our government’s role as they flip-flop with policies, knock teachers morale and damage recruitment and staff retention in the industry.

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