The biggest schools in the world present a unique landscape where education, society, and evolution converge, and the importance of these institutions in shaping our societies can’t be overstated.
These vast institutions, some embracing multiple sprawling campuses, accommodate tens of thousands of students. From the breathtaking aerial views of their extensive compounds to the bustling scenes of their packed classrooms, the scale can be overwhelming. The colossal student populations are a testament to the immense administrative challenge, complex infrastructure, and dynamic learning methodologies these institutions must employ.
Join us on this educational odyssey where we’ll be looking at the world’s largest schools based on the number of students. Some are on single sites, while others are spread over a number of campuses. It’s worth noting that student numbers vary each year so our figures are approximate based on the most recent available information.
Location: Victoria, Australia | Pupils: Approx. 3,600 | Founded: 1892
With five staff and seventeen pupils, Oxford University graduate and former pupil at Haileybury College in the UK Charles Rendall, founded Haileybury in Victoria. Today, it’s one of the world’s biggest schools and among the most prestigious private schools in Australia, Haileybury is spread over four sites in Victoria, one in Northern Territory and an international site in Tianjin, China.
Allen High School
Location: Texas, USA | Pupils: Approx. 5,300 | Founded: 1910
The 177-acre campus of Allen High School sits twenty-five miles north of Dallas and is home to 219 classrooms and a 1,500-seat performing arts centre. One of the largest schools in the world, it was founded in 1910 as a six-room, two-story school. The first graduating class in 1914 had a grand total of eight students. With an alumni including dozens of former and current NFL players, Allen High School has a $60 million state-of-the-art, 18,000 seat stadium known as the Allen Eagle Stadium.
Brooklyn Technical High School
Location: New York, USA | Pupils: Approx. 5,900 | Founded: 1922
Brooklyn Tech is among America’s most prestigious educational institutions as well as one of the biggest schools in the world. Specialising in STEM – Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths – it was founded in 1922 by Albert L. Colston. He was a local high school maths professor, who believed that in the aftermath of World War I the US needed a more comprehensively trained technical workforce. Today, approximately 30,000 students sit the entrance exam every year, resulting in around 1,400 – 1,500 admissions. Alumni include NASA astronauts, Nobel Laureates, Oscar winners, US senators, Air Force generals, and Lou Ferrigno, a former Mr. Universe and The Incredible Hulk.
Rizal High School
Location: Manila, Philippines | Pupils: Approx. 20,000 | Founded: 1902
Originally called Pasig Secondary School when it opened in 1902 with twenty-eight students, Rizal High School – the name changed in 1914 – has grown to become one of the world’s biggest schools. The school was named after writer and political reformist José Rizal, a national hero in the Philippines.
City Montessori School
Location: Lucknow, India | Pupils: Approx. 55,000 | Founded: 1959
The largest school in the world is City Montessori School in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Founded in 1959 by Drs. Bharti and Jagdish Gandhi, it started as just a single room in their home with only five students. Today, the supersized school spreads over more than twenty campuses throughout the city of Lucknow. With over 1,000 classrooms, City Montessori School admits children from the ages of three to seventeen. In 2002 the school was awarded the UNESCO Peace Prize for Education, believed to be the only school to have received the award in its history.
The Biggest Schools in the UK
The UK has a number of large schools and, like those from around the world, the quoted student numbers are approximations given the fluidity of intakes from year to year.
Known locally as Methody, Methodist College Belfast is a voluntary grammar school and one of the biggest schools in Northern Ireland with around 1,800 students. It opened in 1868.
Holyrood Secondary School in Glasgow with over 2,000 students is a mile away from Hampden Park, Scotland’s national football stadium. It opened in 1936 and is one of the biggest schools in the UK. Every year it welcomes over 400 first year pupils, the biggest secondary school intake in Scotland.
Cardiff’s Whitchurch High School may not be one of the world’s largest schools, but it is believed to be the biggest secondary school in Wales with around 2,400 students. Notable former pupils include former Spurs, Real Madrid and Wales footballer Gareth Bale, 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, and Sam Warburton, former captain of the Welsh rugby union side and the British and Irish Lions.
England has a number of the biggest schools in the UK. Exmouth Community College in Devon has about 2,200 students, while Ashfield School in Nottingham has approximately 2,500 students, as does Robert Clack School in East London.
The biggest school in the UK and one of the biggest schools in the world is Nottingham Academy in Nottingham. It is located across three campuses and the academy is a result of a 2009 amalgamation of three schools – Elliott Durham School, Greenwood Dale and The Jesse Boot Primary School. It is known as an ‘all-through’ school, serving children from the ages of three to nineteen and is believed to serve just under 3,000 students.
The Evolving Edifices of Extraordinary Education
The echo of the last school bell leaves us standing in the vast shadow of the world’s largest schools, struck with awe at the monumental scale of these educational establishments.
The sheer size of their operations, the hundreds of classrooms, the sprawling campuses stretching as far as the eye can see, all underscore the gigantic task these institutions have undertaken. These mammoth schools bear testimony to the power of education on a grand scale.