Letter: Parental choice may swamp good schools

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Sir: I am amazed that The Independent has jumped on to the "expanding successful schools" bandwagon (leading article, 8 February). As a teacher for 34 years, in both large and small secondary schools, I can tell you that when it comes to effective education size does indeed matter.

A secondary school needs to be big enough to offer a full curriculum range and yet small enough to offer a friendly, caring environment. The danger of simply making popular schools bigger is that that this may destroy the very ethos that made them successful and therefore popular in the first place. The prospect of precious school playing fields being dotted with portable huts is certainly not conducive to effective education, as many who taught regularly in them will testify.

Your news report mentions the prospect of closing unpopular schools to allow their buildings to be taken over by their more successful neighbours. I thought we went through this in the 1970s, with fleets of taxis and buses ferrying teachers and students between split-site schools and realised what a logistical disaster it was.

Putting parental choice at the forefront of educational policy is not the answer to our problems in education. By all means, we should listen to what parents and, more importantly, students, say, but what we should be doing is ensuring that every school is a successful school and not allowing schools to enter a beauty contest to attract the "right" type of parents - sorry, students. The education of future generations is just too important to allow simply "market forces", by whatever criteria, to cloud our judgement.