Final week for input on schools

PARENTS have just one week left to make their views known on proposals to close Felixstowe's two high schools and create one super-school for 13s to 19s.

PARENTS have just one week left to make their views known on proposals to close Felixstowe's two high schools and create one super-school for 13s to 19s.

Deadline day for consultation responses is August 4 and the headteachers of Deben and Orwell are urging parents to make sure they respond so their opinions can be taken into account.

Over the next few months the overhaul of the education system in Felixstowe will be examined in great detail, and a final decision on the future could be made as early as January.

An early decision is essential because government funding for the new school project could become available in two years' time as part of the Building Schools for the Future initiative.

The multi-million pound new school, which is likely to be built on the massive Orwell campus, would be in place by 2010.

Deben headteacher Terry Ring said he hoped parents would look at the reasons for the changes rather than express “emotional attachment” to the current schools and established education system.

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He said: “What is fairly clear is that given the numbers of young people in Felixstowe and the likely future rolls, because the student population is declining, that the idea of having two high schools is no longer economically or educationally viable, sensible or sustainable, and that is something we feel strongly has to change.”

The new high school would be purpose-built for the needs of education in the 21st century and be able to provide more vocational courses, a broader range of academic courses and subjects, with the aim to persuade more teenagers to stay on at school.

Mr Ring said: “I recognise, and I am sure the head of Orwell recognises as well, that when people hear about changes there can be feelings of panic because people like what is familiar, we are naturally conservative.”

The new school would be for 13s to 19s, and would accommodate 1,300 to 1,600 pupils. Youngsters will stay at primary school two years longer and start their GCSEs a year earlier - making their choices in their last year at primary.

Orwell High head Peter Tomkins said: “We feel many students know by year eight what they are interested in, which subjects they would like to follow, and would be ready to make choices earlier.”

WEBLINKS: www.deben.suffolk.sch.uk; www.orwellhigh.com

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