New look for Felixstowe schools

PARENTS are being asked for their views on proposals for a multi-million pound new super school for Felixstowe - with the aim to have the building open in five years.

PARENTS are being asked for their views on proposals for a multi-million pound new super school for Felixstowe - with the aim to have the building open in five years.

The project will cost up to £40m and government is providing the cash.

County council officials are recommending Deben High and Orwell High close and a new school be built, with two options on the table:

A new school on the Orwell site for 1,500 pupils aged 11 to 16 with Deben used as a sixth-form centre for up to 350 students 16 to 19;

Orwell's site used for a huge new school for 11 to 19s.

The project will create a purpose-built school tailored to future learning and teaching methods, and Deben's Langley Avenue playing fields would be sold off for housing.

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If the second option is agreed, Deben's buildings and field in Garrison Lane would also be surplus and sold.

Portfolio holder, Patricia O'Brien said the aim was to “raise ambitions and achievement” for the Felixstowe area.

“We want the outcome to be an education system for Felixstowe which is ambitious, high achieving and stimulating for students, teachers and partners alike,” she said.

“It will inspire and support community and economic development in the area, impacting on families and the wider adult population.”

Parents have until December 15 to comment and the county council cabinet will make a decision in January.

A series of public meetings will take place - October 20, Deben High; October 21, Orwell High; October 23, Grange Primary; November 4, Causton Junior; November 5, Orwell High; November 6, Deben High; November 10, Langer Primary; November 12, Kingsfleet Primary; November 13, Trimley St Martin; November 19, Trimley St Mary; November 25, Colneis Junior. All start 7pm.

PANEL: What the headteachers say:

Deben High head Rob Cawley said the school's senior leadership team and governing body was wholeheartedly in support and “very excited” and felt all secondary education in Felixstowe should take place on one site.

This would give pupils access a greater range of courses, and a school big enough to compete with larger schools in surrounding towns, encouraging students to stay in Felixstowe for their education, especially sixth form.

“In addition to our preference for 'one school: one site', we believe that a completely brand new site be found for any new school,” said Mr Cawley.

“This will have two main benefits: Firstly to ensure that physical access to a new school is considered in any plans.

“Secondly, a new site would allow Deben and Orwell schools to continue to work together as equal partners in the creation of something completely visionary for the future of education in the town.”

Orwell High head Peter Tomkins said: “The potential unlocked by an investment of up to £40m into the education of young people in Felixstowe is huge. This could make a real difference to how education is delivered which would raise student achievement.'

“We have been working very closely together for a number of years as two schools and so a single school model would certainly not be a shock to students, staff or parents. It would, however, be sensible to have a single site school rather than the split site school proposed in one of the options.”