Comment: Problem has been years in the making

hands up if you have heard this one before.

The school roll is rising and there is not enough space in the existing buildings for the growing number of pupils. So the city needs an answer quick – and it’s got to be cheap, or at least not too expensive.

The last time it was primary schools. This time it is the high schools. The problem is exactly the same, however. How do you cope with an influx of new pupils over and above the number you have been used to dealing with?

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It is not always easy, especially when you are dealing with ageing buildings and limited funds. But the proposals for pupils to be shuttled around schools to be taught different classes in different locations looks ill-conceived.

This is not just a proposal for highly specialised subjects such as Latin or accountancy which it is unrealistic to expect to be taught in every high school. This is something that could affect pupils learning subjects as important and popular as science and languages.

Parents will be deeply concerned about the impact this will have on their child’s learning. And they will have lots of questions. If pupils are repeatedly being ferried from one school to another, you don’t need higher maths to work out that will take time – potentially a considerable amount of time over the course of a week or a school term. Will all of that be taken out of the time pupils would otherwise be spending at their desks being taught? And how will they catch up on all the time that they are losing out on? Will there be extra homework? Or will they just be left to their own devices to do whatever catch-up they can?

There is some sympathy for the city authorities who face a growing funding squeeze exacerbaed by the ongoing council tax freeze.

But Green councillor Melanie Main is right to decry the lack of a long-term plan.

This problem has been years in the making and no-one has grabbed the bull by the horns.

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