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Suffolk: School changes in Stowmarket and Stowupland set to go ahead

09:00 19 February 2013

Graham Newman.

Graham Newman.

Archant

SUFFOLK county council’s cabinet is expected to give the final go-ahead for the abolition of middle schools in the Stowmarket area next week.

Proposals to convert that area from three to two-tier schools are expected to be given the final go-ahead by the cabinet despite fierce opposition.

The county has been pressing ahead with school reorganisation despite opposition from teachers and parents across Suffolk.

In the Stowmarket area, campaigners have been battling since 2007 to try to retain the three-tier system and the four middle schools.

However, the county’s cabinet decided in December to go ahead with the formal notice of closure – which heralded the start of a six-week consultation period.

During that period there have been 15 representations of interest sent to the county council, of which 10 were in support of the reorganisation and five were opposed to it.

If the cabinet decides to approve the proposal, there will be no admission to middle schools in the area from September 2014.

The middle schools themselves – at Combs, Needham Market, Bacton and Stowmarket – would close in September 2015.

However, Stowmarket Middle School’s buildings would become an annexe to the town’s high school.

Schools in the Haverhill and Lowestoft areas have already been changed from three to two-tier – and the reorganisation is set to continue in all areas of the county that has had three-tier schools.

In the Ipswich area and part of mid Suffolk there have always been two-tier schools. In Felixstowe and Woodbridge the schools became two-tier in the 1970s and 1980s. Graham Newman, the cabinet member for education and young people, said: “Completing the School Organisation Review is an integral part of raising attainment levels across Suffolk. Every single primary school and high school in the Stowmarket and Stowupland area is anxious to complete the programme and indeed promoted the proposal to the county council.

“It is a fact that nationally pupils educated within a two-tier system outperform those educated within a three-tier system.

“You need only look at the most recent results in Haverhill and Lowestoft to see significant improvement in Key Stage Two results following reorganisation.”

Opposition Lib Dem education spokeswoman Penny Otten said she would continue to oppose the change.

She said: “The recent Ofsted reports have shown that the middle schools have improved and there are still questions about whether this really will improve education in the area.”

6 comments

  • Well done Sydney Smith, I strongly believe that being economic with the truth is the case here. Mr Geater's piece should read - 'During that period there have been 15 representations of interest sent to the county council, of which 10 were in support of the reorganisation and 1322 were opposed to it' (fact). With regard to Councillor Newman's comments, I agree that there is a great deal of anxiety in all of our schools in the Stowmarket area!

    Report this comment

    Wolfie

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

  • IInteresting how someting so true can read so false. 10 representations in favour....true, but 5 were from individual governors of Stowmarket High. However, one of the 5 was from the Executive officer of the National Middle Schools Forum, rebuking ALL of SCC's arguments and counted as ONE each was the 109 people who signed the petition and the 1210 people who signed the paper petition. Surely this means that there were 10 people in support and 1322 people against. Well unless you are the Council of course.

    Report this comment

    Sidney Smith

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

  • I think it's unacceptable for Middle Schools in Stowmarket area to be closed. I went to Combs Middle School and it was there that I was introduced to poetry for the first time. I am now a published poet & novelist and I couldn't have done this without my middle school education. By closing down these schools you are putting our kids education and quality if life at risk.

    Report this comment

    AJ Brewster

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

  • In 2015, as Suffolk County Council locks the doors on our county's excellent middle schools, compulsory education to the age of 18 will be kicking in. Stowmarket High School will be bulging at the seams with near 1800 pupils. Considering the recent poor GCSE results (lowest 10% in the country) how will the High School elevate teaching standards to meet the demand of a third more students?

    Report this comment

    Wolfie

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

  • IInteresting how someting so true can read so false. 10 representations in favour....true, but 5 were from individual governors of Stowmarket High. However, one of the 5 was from the Executive officer of the National Middle Schools Forum, rebuking ALL of SCC's arguments and counted as ONE each was the 109 people who signed the petition and the 1210 people who signed the paper petition. Surely this means that there were 10 people in support and 1322 people against. Well unless you are the Council of course.

    Report this comment

    Sidney Smith

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

  • IInteresting how someting so true can read so false. 10 representations in favour....true, but 5 were from individual governors of Stowmarket High. However, one of the 5 was from the Executive officer of the National Middle Schools Forum, rebuking ALL of SCC's arguments and counted as ONE each was the 109 people who signed the petition and the 1210 people who signed the paper petition. Surely this means that there were 10 people in support and 1322 people against. Well unless you are the Council of course.

    Report this comment

    Sidney Smith

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

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