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This is an essay on notability.
|This page in a nutshell: High schools/secondary schools are generally considered to be notable, but they must be able to meet the relevant guidelines for notability|
Some editors feel that there is almost always some suitable reliable sources available to base a good article on, and that it is more sensible to consistently retain these articles rather than argue about each one to try to eliminate the very occasional school for which coverage is hard to find.
However, this is not a loophole in Wikipedia's guidelines or policies. Like any other topic, articles on schools must be able to meet notability standards, such as those at Wikipedia:Notability and Wikipedia:Notability (organizations and companies) specifically. Unreferenced material can and should be challenged up to and including removal from the article. Efforts are much better put into locating reliable sources about the school and improving the article based on those sources.
Defining a high school/secondary school
Different countries use different terms for schools which provide secondary education. The age range of children taught at such schools can also vary considerably. The terms used include: high schools, secondary schools, middle schools, grammar schools, comprehensive schools, academies, gymnasiums, and lycées. Sometimes there are multiple types in one country.
The term 'college' is often used as a synonym for a post-18 tertiary education establishment such as a university (although constituent schools within universities may also be called 'colleges'). Note, however, that in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and many other places with an English-speaking background, the term college often refers to further education establishments that award the same post-16 qualifications as a secondary school with a sixth form. The word college is also included in the name of many secondary schools in these countries (for example, Brighton College and Fettes College).
A high school/secondary school is defined as a school that provides the earliest recognized certification of educational attainment, whether referred to as a school-leaving certificate, high school diploma, High School Leaving Certificate, General Certificate of Secondary Education, or IB Diploma Programme. To be considered a genuine high school/secondary school, the school must either be a public school (i.e. a municipal or government school) or a private school that is authorised by a recognised accreditation body.
Independent sources that meet WP:GNG and WP:ORG can almost always be found for any government-run school, and for all but the smallest private schools. High schools/secondary schools are generally significant in their local communities, and thus feature in the local media (particularly in smaller towns). As with other types of articles, we do not delete an article because editors have not yet cited their sources, but only if there is no evidence that independent, reliable sources exist. In the isolated instances where such schools have been deleted at WP:AfD, editors were commonly unable to independently verify much more than the school's existence, and sometimes not even that much. The school's own website, information the school submits to other websites or organizations, and the school district or governing authority's publications are not considered independent sources, even though they may be reliable sources.
In major developed countries, many independent, reliable sources about schools can be found on the Internet, beyond the scope of the trivial. However, outside those countries, and particularly for countries in Asia and Africa, Internet coverage is poor. Where this is the case then, to avoid systemic bias, local sources should be sought. This may involve researching local media, for example at a neighbouring library. There is no time limit for such research to be carried out. Unreliable and non-independent sources that merely repeat information provided by the school's administration should be avoided.
For schools in countries where English is not the first language there might be a lack of English-language sources, even though multiple reliable sources will exist in the local language. Although English-language sources are preferred where available they are not an essential requirement (see Wikipedia:Verifiability#Non-English_sources). The interlanguage links should be checked to see if articles have been written on the school in other languages. If necessary translation help can be requested at Wikipedia:Translators available.
If it's not notable
Merely claiming to enroll teenagers or containing the words "high school" in its name is not enough for a school to be given a separate, stand-alone article. There are thousands of high schools for which no independent reliable sources have been published. These schools are often very small, very new, or not considered true schools (for example, being homeschools or being businesses that offer sports, arts, or tutoring classes).
However, being non-notable does not mean that Wikipedia may not include any information about the school. Deletion discussions about such schools commonly end with a recommendation to merge the verifiable material into another article. Please don't use the Wikipedia:Articles for deletion process if the best outcome is a merge! Articles can be boldly merged together by any editor, or you can use the process at Wikipedia:Proposed merges to discuss a merge. You can merge unwanted articles about schools into pages such as these:
- Lists like List of high schools in Alaska,
- Articles about the school's administrative authority, like Fairbanks North Star Borough School District,
- Education sections in articles about the local community, like North Pole, Alaska#Education, or
- Articles about other related organizations, like Roman Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks#Education.
This is also what commonly happens with schools serving young children.