March 17 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
A leading headteacher in west Suffolk has hailed the introduction of two-tier education in his town as the county council gears up to give it the go ahead.
King Edward VI School head Geoff Barton has welcomed the news that 20 schools in Bury St Edmunds look set to be moved from a three-tier system - primary, middle and upper - to two-tier primary and secondary.
Members of Suffolk County Council’s cabinet are due to rubber-stamp the move next week after a lengthy consultation found the majority were in favour of the switch.
King Edward VI is part of the Bury Schools Partnership, which has backed the move, and Mr Barton said it was a step in the right direction to improving standards in the county.
He said: “I strongly support the move to two-tier and it’s reassuring to see that, once the principles and logic behind it have been explained, the consultation events have shown overall support.
“If Suffolk’s education genuinely is to become outstanding again, we need to build the momentum of schools working in partnership, so that all children can achieve their true potential.
“I am convinced that the school organisation process will be an important milestone in this ambition.”
Results from the consultation over two-tier schooling, held between October and December, found that 54% of the 1,111 people that completed the questionnaire or wrote to the council supported the move.
The move would see the closure of four middle schools in Bury - Hardwick, Howard, St James and St Louis - and the creation of a new upper school.
The council say the changes are being made because results show that children perform better in two-tier rather than three-tier systems.
Just 1% of schools nationally are middle schools, down from 10% in the 1980s, and the restructuring has already happened or is happening elsewhere in the county.
Results from 2013 show that Suffolk schools using the two-tier system had a 72% Level 4+ score in Reading, in Writing and in Maths (combined), while schools still in the three-tier system scored just 68%. Both scores are below the national average.
Suffolk County Council’s cabinet will meet at West Suffolk House in Bury on Tuesday at 11am.