Suffolk school shake-up delayed until 2017

COUNCIL chiefs have today announced a key phase in a major shake-up of Suffolk's education system will be delayed by up to four years.

Laurence Cawley

COUNCIL chiefs have today announced a key phase in a major shake-up of Suffolk's education system will be delayed by up to four years.

When Suffolk County Council initially outlined its plans for the school organisation review, which involves doing away with al 40 middle schools, its education managers expected the entire process to be complete by 2013.

Earlier this year, the county council revealed uncertainty over Government funding meant it was putting the final phase of the scheme - which effects Stowmarket, Stowupland, Thurston and Bury St Edmunds - on hold.

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Today, the council has announced any changes will not happen in Bury until at least September 2017. It is splitting the different areas up in a bid to make sure cash is available as the scheme progresses.

Twelve weeks of public consultation on options for schools in Stowmarket, Stowupland and Thurston will begin in autumn 2010. For Stowmarket and Stowupland changes would come into force from September 2014 with changes for Thurston schools being implemented a year later in September 2015.

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Changes for schools in Bury St Edmunds will not be implemented before September 2017. For this to happen, consultation would have to take place in 2013. This will be at the time when Building Schools for the Future funding is expected to be available for the area.

Graham Newman, Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People said: “In September we took the decision to look again at our plans for the remainder of the review in light of uncertainties surrounding the level of future funding from central government.

“The timeframe we have set out reflects the new financial climate. Whilst the benefits of the review will be delayed in these areas, all schools will be actively encouraged to identify ways in which they can make the first steps in raising levels of achievement for young people”.

“We cannot make unconditional commitments until there has been a comprehensive spending review by the new government next year but this is a timeline which we intend to deliver on. If levels of funding are better than we have budgeted for we would consider whether to implement the changes more quickly. The county council remains 100% committed to the review”.

Information is being sent to parents, schools and other stakeholders to keep them up to date with developments.

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