Outcry as middle schools set to close

A PRESSURE group opposed to the closure of Suffolk's middle schools today accused the county council of ignoring parents' concerns to force through its own agenda.

A PRESSURE group opposed to the closure of Suffolk's middle schools today accused the county council of ignoring parents' concerns to force through its own agenda.

As reported in The Evening Star yesterday the authority unveiled a report recommending councillors approve plans to axe 40 middle schools.

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of the council, described the proposal as a “once in a lifetime opportunity to improve education for everybody”.

He said he is confident the “overwhelming case” for the switch from a three-tier to a two-tier system will be voted through by councillors at their meeting next Thursday.

But campaign group Parents Against Change (PAC), who have collected a 10,000-strong petition opposing the move, claimed its protests had been disregarded.

Neil Fleming, of PAC, said: “We are very worried there is a hardcore of arrogance among some of councillors who don't seem to have listened to anything that has been said. We think they're determined to proceed with a decision that isn't going to improve education in Suffolk.

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“In our opinion, the council decided it wanted to abolish middle schools a long time ago and all the work it has done has been to demonstrate that all the problems with education in Suffolk are associated with having a two and three-tier system. The research set out to find something that wasn't there.”

Sue Hull, head of Needham Market Middle School, said: “I think it's very sad. There's a huge amount to lose for little gain. Middle schools came into being for sound educational reasons - as a transition between primary and high schools - and those reasons still stand.

“I wasn't very impressed with the consultation. I thought it was biased and it was difficult to express support for middle schools.”

The council claim pupils who go through the two-tier system achieve better results than those who attend primary, middle and high schools.

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to improve education for everybody. We want to transform learning for all children and young people in Suffolk.

“I believe the case is overwhelming and I am confident the recommendation will be accepted.”

N What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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