July 24 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Most schools in the Bury St Edmunds area will be converted to a two-tier system by September 2016, the county council cabinet has confirmed.
Yesterday’s cabinet meeting confirmed the orders that will see the closure of most middle schools in the town with King Edward VI Upper being converted into an 11-18 school.
County Upper School and three others – Horringer and Westley Middle Schools and Barrow Primary School – are now part of the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust and do not support a move to a two-tier structure.
They are likely to end up as the only three-tier state schools left in Suffolk by the end of 2016.
Cabinet member Gordon Jones proposed the changes at yesterday’s meeting – education spokeswoman Lisa Chambers was unwell and unable to attend – and said there was clear support among most people who had responded to the consultation in Bury St Edmunds.
There were concerns, especially from people living on the Howard Estate, whose children could find it more challenging to get a place at the nearby County Upper School as a result of the changes.
However this was the last area of the county to undergo the School Organisation Review – and the issues thrown up by the changes to the education system nationally showed how important it was to get on with the process.
He was backed up by previous education spokesman Graham Newman who had overseen earlier phases of the School Organisation Review: “Schools that have converted from three to two-tier are those which have shown the greatest improvement in their results.”
Labour education spokeswoman Sonia Barker represents a division in Lowestoft which was the first area of the county to go through the schools’ reorganisation said it was vital that there were enough resources.
She said: “The shake up in the schools needs to take account of the impact on teachers. You have to remember that the brilliant sixth form teachers also teach classes down the school.
“When we had the sixth form centre, many of the better teachers went there and we ended up with two out of the four high schools in special measures.
“There is a problem that with all the resources being put into schools in London all the best young enthusiastic teachers will be sucked there – we have to come up with pay packages that can attract the best teachers to this area.”
Her group leader, Sandy Martin, warned that the existence of the Academy Trust could lead to two standards of state education in Bury St Edmunds.
The confirmation of the orders means that this September will be the last year that the middle schools will take on new students.
Next year there will be no new pupils transferring and from 2016 there will be a direct transfer from primary schools to high schools.
The cabinet also confirmed the closure of Stoke Ash Primary School at the end of the term – it has only three pupils following an Ofsted report which marked it as inadequate and put it into special measures.