The impact of large schools on education

High School Students In ClassroomThe current trend is to build large schools to accommodate lots of students. One of the most compelling arguments for building larger schools is that it makes more sense economically. And with housing and mixed-use development booming in Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield over the past few years, it seems obvious that we need bigger schools to teach the increasing populations of young people in the metro Richmond area. But is bigger really better? Not necessarily. Here’s a look at the advantages and disadvantages of big and small schools:

Involvement & Community

Teachers, students and parents are more likely to build strong relationships and feel connected to school culture at a small school. This personal connection and sense of community means students are less likely to slip through the cracks unnoticed. Larger schools, on the other hand, have the ability to offer a greater range of clubs and activities.

Classes & Curriculum

Big schools tend to offer a large variety of classes and services, but students at small schools have a greater chance of mastering the lessons presented. Additionally, private schools tend to be smaller than state funded schools and can provide more variety in curriculum because they are not bound by state regulations.


Large schools allow students to have a greater sense of anonymity, which can be detrimental to security measures. Security policies and discipline are easier to enforce at small schools because everybody knows your name, which allows strangers to be identified more easily and reduces incidents of bullying and fighting.


As previously mentioned, one of the benefits of larger schools is the economic savings, as purchasing items in bulk is usually more cost effective than ordering on a smaller scale. Alternatively, small schools face less bureaucracy in making financial decisions and often have more flexibility in their budgetary considerations.

Identifying the right school size

The most important factor in choosing a school size is finding the school size that is right for your child. Some students thrive in larger schools, while others relish in smaller classes and schools. Contemplate the following questions to help evaluate the right school for your student.
If you’re considering a small school

  • Are there enough extracurricular activities for your child to be involved in?
  • Does the school’s curriculum and approach appeal to your student?
  • Will your child feel embraced and supported in a small class?

If you’re considering a big school

  • Is discipline a concern?
  • Do students seem to be receiving enough attention from teachers and support staff?
  • Are there opportunities to build a sense of community and belonging?