Study on scrapping of middle schools

NEARLY a quarter of a million pounds has so far been spent on a study which called for Suffolk's 40 middle schools to be scrapped.Suffolk County Council said the cost of its School Organisation Review - which recommends abolishing all middle schools and imposing a single two-tier education system across the county - currently stands at £240,000.

NEARLY a quarter of a million pounds has so far been spent on a study which called for Suffolk's 40 middle schools to be scrapped.

Suffolk County Council said the cost of its School Organisation Review - which recommends abolishing all middle schools and imposing a single two-tier education system across the county - currently stands at £240,000.

This figure - which is expected to grow as the review gathers pace next year - includes the cost of expert research, printing documents and staff time spent on the project.

The county council claims axing middle schools will save £4.4million a year - which will be reinvested in schools - but a Suffolk MP raised questions about the amount of money being spent on just the first part of the project.

David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, said: “I'm not quite sure why nearly a quarter of a million pounds has been spent on analysing the problem.”

Peter Dunnett, of the Bury branch of the National Union of Teachers, described the cost of the exercise was “tremendous” and said “there are still a lot of questions unanswered”.

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Patricia O'Brien, the county council's portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services, defended the review, saying it was a “once in a generation opportunity to take a leap forward in re-organising the school system”.

She added: “We must do this, because the joint inspectors from CSCI (Commission for Social Care Inspection) and Ofsted have found that the rates of progress for children from year two to year six are too slow, particularly in middle schools.

“Getting this right now will mean we can use many millions of pounds of national funding for new and improved school buildings.”

The recommendations from the first stage of the review process will be considered by the Cabinet on January 16 and by the full council on March 22.