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Bury St Edmunds: Four schools set to close as town moves towards controversial two-tier system

PUBLISHED: 15:37 18 February 2014 | UPDATED: 15:51 18 February 2014

Lexie Gedge (9) petitioned against the planned closure of St Louis Middle in Bury.

Lexie Gedge (9) petitioned against the planned closure of St Louis Middle in Bury.

Archant

Sweeping reforms to education in Bury St Edmunds look set to be given the go-ahead after an extensive consultation found that most people favoured the controversial move to a two-tier system.

Suffolk County Council yesterday announced its cabinet would be advised to recommend moving 20 schools in the town from three-tier to a two-tier system - including the closure of four middle schools.

It comes after a two-month consultation found that 54% wanted the town’s schools to become two tier, a change that has happened or is already happening elsewhere in the county.

Joy Stodart, the council’s project lead for the school organisational review (SOR), said: “The consultation we have conducted has been thorough and it is on the basis of these results, and the fact that they are in line with our published policies, that we are making these recommendations to councillors.

“It is now for the cabinet to make a decision based on the information we have gathered.

“If legal notices are published there will, of course, be more opportunities for people to give their views.”

The changes will affect all schools in the Bury Schools Partnership and the town’s three Catholic schools.

Hardwick, Howard, St James and St Louis middle schools will all close under the changes, which will have been fully implemented by September 2016.

Four schools that have formed an all-through academy trust - Barrow Primary, Horringer Court Middle, Westley Middle and County Upper - will be unaffected.

Of the 1,111 people that completed the consultation questionnaire or wrote to the county council, 603 backed the move to two-tier in Bury, with 374 disagreeing.

The consultation, which was prompted by the Bury Schools Partnership, saw more than 1,500 people attend public events between October and December, and a council spokesman said their views were also taken into account.

Should Suffolk County Council’s cabinet approve the changes at next week’s meeting, detailed proposals will be published for each school and permission will be sought to create a new secondary school.

The public will then have four weeks to comment before a final decision is made by cabinet in April, with the first raft of changes being made in time for the start of the 2015 school year.

Next week’s cabinet meeting will take place at West Suffolk House in Bury on Tuesday, starting at 11am.

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