Stowmarket: Questions raised over Suffolk County Council policy as children set to leave “good” middle schools

School pupils sitting exams

School pupils sitting exams - Credit: PA

Students forced to leave their middle schools because of the controversial decision to close them in an attempt to raise standards may be worse off according to the latest Ofsted reports.

Youngsters in the Stowmarket area are set to move to two high schools which have both been criticised by the education watchdog.

Stowmarket High and Stowupland High have this year both been given “requires improvement” ratings by Ofsted inspectors.

But the four middle schools in the area - Stowmarket, Combs, Bacton and Needham Market - have all got “good” reports.

Suffolk County Council, which is behind the three-tier to two-tier schooling move, said Ofsted ratings are “good” indicators of performance but stressed the importance of children’s grades in Key Stage assessments and at GCSE.

But the parents’ group, Suffolk Action for Truth on SOR (School Organisation Review) and the National Union of Teachers in Suffolk have both strongly criticised the council’s decision.

A spokesman for the parents’ group said: “We feel the middle schools are doing a good job some with outstanding features and they are the schools which are going to close in the area. These are four good schools which are being taken away from children.

Most Read

“Stowmarket High School has never ever been anything better than a satisfactory school (since 2009) that now requires improvement.

“By pulling the extra children into those schools how will it help the head teacher, governors and teachers to give more to the kids when they will be given more work and problems?”

The middle schools will close in 2015 with the changes to year groups starting next September.

A judicial review has been filed with the High Court challenging the council’s decision. A senior judge is expected to announce whether the formal challenge is eligible for proceedings to begin in the coming weeks.

The county council said it is “confident” the two high schools will improve their Ofsted ratings.

A spokesman for the authority said: “Results at ages 11 and 16 in this area are not as good as they could be and evidence shows that children do better in a two-tier education system than in a three-tier system. That’s why the vast majority of the country operates two tiers and Suffolk is completing its transition.

“No-one in Suffolk should be satisfied with our schools matching national performance. We want children in Suffolk to do much better than that which is why we’re implementing the findings from the Raising the Bar enquiry and are completing the School Organisation Review.”

He added the decision was “not about individual schools” but about the “education system as a whole”.

Stowupland High School has failed to receive a “good” overall grade since 2004.

All the six schools mentioned have been graded by Ofsted this year except for Bacton Community Middle School which was in 2011.