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Small schools versus big schools

Comparing the benefits of small and big schools

Is there an ideal school size? This is a controversial question.

While some researchers have looked at this, they often generalize students’ preferences and behaviours. Even some assumptions that seem valid—such as that smaller classes are better than larger ones for some students—lack empirical support. Children vary greatly in how they respond to different environments, and those responses can change over time. Similar to deciding between single-sex or coed schools, it’s best to consider the merits of both small and large schools as they relate to your child at specific times. 

Benefits of big vs. small schools

Small school advantages

Large school advantages

Greater possibility for intimacy 

Greater diversity of opportunities

  • When faculty members know each student, students are better supported and held more accountable—academically and behaviourally. Smaller faculty means increased likelihood for cross-teacher collaboration to provide support.

  • More well-rounded curriculum with greater variety allows students to choose more specialized classes, taught by specialist teachers. Greater number and variety of staff equipped to deal with your child’s unique psychoeducational needs. 

  • Instantly inducts students into a close-knit, whole-school community. Allows them to form close bonds with peers. This can be especially important for shy and introverted children.

  • Offers more social opportunities and increases the likelihood of students finding like-minded peers who challenge and support them. Students (including shy ones) learn to take control of their social lives and carve their own path. Avoids the “fishbowl” effect, and gives kids a healthy escape valve during their social development. 

  • If your child loves sports, but isn’t a star athlete, there’s an increased chance of them making school teams and playing a prominent role. There’s also more opportunities to take leadership positions in core extracurriculars, like student government.

  • Wider range of extracurriculars. Allows students to experiment with different programs and discover new passions, which may change over time. Sports teams tend to be more competitive, with better coaching and resources.

  • Parents feel more connected to the school when they know faculty, administration, and other parents so well.

  • Even larger private schools tend to be highly responsive to parents, with faculty advisors assigned to individual students and parents.

Series: Coed Schools

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