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Bury St Edmunds: Fight against two-tier education in town is not over

11:00 28 March 2014

People are urged to comment on notices proposing changes to the structure of the education system in the Bury St Edmunds area

People are urged to comment on notices proposing changes to the structure of the education system in the Bury St Edmunds area

People are being urged to raise concerns over education reform in Bury St Edmunds - which some say is having a “devastating effect” on communities - during final consultation.

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In February Suffolk County Council’s cabinet decided to go ahead with plans to restructure education in the area, which is the latest phase of the controversial School Organisation Review (SOR).

Notices have been published on the proposed changes, which include shutting Howard, Hardwick, St James CEVA and St Louis Middle Schools at the end of the summer term in 2016 and extending the age ranges of most of the other schools.

People have until April 18 to comment on the proposals by writing to Joy Stodart at Schools Infrastructure, Children and Young People’s Services, Endeavour House, 8 Russell Road, Ipswich, IP1 2BX, or emailing joy.stodart@suffolk.gov.uk

A spokesperson for Best for Bury, a community action group opposed to the plans for two-tier education, urged people to make a written submission to the county council.

They said: “The local authority is supposed to look at these representations and it could decide to modify what it is proposing.”

They said a petition of about 1,000 signatures was still open.

Ernie Broom, chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants (HEART), urged the council to “please, please listen to the people from the Howard and Mildenhall estates and do not destroy this happy community of ours with your divisive rulings”.

One of the major concerns around the proposals for two-tier education in the Bury area is that children from the Howard and Mildenhall Road estates would effectively be cut off from attending their local upper school, the “outstanding” County Upper.

County Upper is part of the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust, alongside Barrow CEVC Primary, Horringer Court Middle and Westley Middle, which is not part of the restructure plans.

Tollgate Primary School and Howard Middle School on the Howard and Mildenhall Road estates have also linked up with the trust.

Mr Broom said the county council’s plans were having a “devastating effect on our communities”.

The Best for Bury spokesperson said: “I agree with Ernie. The way this is currently structured causes, in the long-term, damage to Bury’s education system.”

Councillor David Nettleton said: “What we have always wanted on our Howard and Mildenhall Road estates is the children go to the same schools and then friendship groups form which can last a lifetime and community spirit is fostered.”

The county council believes a two-tier structure will help improve educational attainment and that two different systems working alongside each other will give parents choice.

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