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Beyond 16! Will there be room?

Recently my children informed me that they will now have to stay at school until they are 18.  I found it strange that I was unaware of this, so I set out to try and find out if it was true.  I began asking friends and colleagues and they too had heard only a rumour, but had no detail.  Having a number of friends who are teachers at both primary and secondary school level, I thought that surely they would know about this and also about what facilities were going to be provided to accommodate this extra two years of education.  They confirmed the fact to be true but knew little more than that.  To say I was shocked is an understatement!

My eldest daughter is nearly fourteen and fast approaching the traditional end of school at the tender age of 16.  She has not yet been informed of the options she will have between 16 and 18.  Traditionally some students have gone on to what we have always referred to as 6th form, some to colleges for vocational courses or further learning, others have found jobs and sadly the remaining few have found themselves unemployed.

The problem as I see it is that if they ALL have to stay in some form of education until they are 18 where are the additional facilities going to come from?  Do existing schools have the capacity in terms of space and teachers to suddenly retain an additional two year groups of pupils?  And if this is FACT why aren’t those that will be providing these facilities making plans now?  It all seems a little worrying to me but maybe as architects our services could soon be needed to find innovative, cost effective and clever ways to extend existing facilities?

Written by Gareth Williams

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