How many kids were at your school growing up? I don’t know, but I certainly hadn’t seen a portable before I entered high school at Guildford Park Secondary in the 90’s.
Today, our schools in Surrey (and surrounding areas) are often overcrowded, especially in family-friendly areas of the city that have been more recently developed.
When my kids first began at school, they were at one of the district’s smaller schools, with an enrollment of less than 200 children. I loved being at a smaller school because I felt like I knew just about everyone of the kids, and it created a real sense of community – when we were in the neighbourhood and saw an older child they knew my kids’ names!
Other things we enjoyed about a smaller school were little things like school plays and annual concerts, which may just be too difficult to manage in a larger school.
There are of course, downsides to a smaller school. We struggled sometimes to get teams together for sports, although on the upside, there were sometimes actually more opportunities to play as we had multi-age teams. There are limited peers, so there’s a smaller pool to find new friends during that special time of life when friendships are tricky. In my experience there were limited resources for my child’s special needs.
We moved to a larger school with around 750 students, and it was quite a change. The bigger school was much more organized, as they would have to be given the number of families to deal with and of course they had more staff to facilitate. My biggest shocker was that the library was open every day! There are also more clubs
The downsides to a larger school are somewhat obvious – it’s more difficult to manage for administration; having a portion of your student body outside in portables is not ideal and doesn’t always lend itself to community building. Kids on sports teams may get less playing time, or only get to play one year if they’re multi-age teams. I was always going to two assemblies, because they’d have to do two separate assemblies because there wasn’t enough room in the gym for all the kids at once. It can seem chaotic with that number of children (to be fair, I get overwhelmed just having 3 in my house). Of course, there are staggered breaks as all the kids also can’t play on the playground at once. I won’t even mention the parking situation or the drop-off line!
Whether your school is smaller or bigger, the people are at the heart of any school and my kids loved learning at both larger and smaller schools. The teachers and administration do the best they can to make sure our kids thrive, and as parents we can help contribute to that by volunteering where we can and just generally being as involved as possible.