A campaign against proposed changes to the education system in the Bury St Edmunds area is gaining momentum its organisers have said as their petition reaches almost 1,000 signatures.

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The Best for Bury community action group was launched last month to fight Suffolk County Council’s controversial proposal for a two-tier education structure in the area, which, if it went ahead, would affect most of the schools.

The plans, which are under consultation until Friday, include closing Howard, Hardwick and St James CEVA middle schools and launching a new academy secondary school at Moreton Hall.

At the same time the West Suffolk Pyramid of Catholic Schools is consulting on plans for two-tier education at its schools in Bury.

Best for Bury had a stall at Bury market on Saturday to promote the campaign and collect signatures.

A Best for Bury spokesperson said: “We reckon we are near 1,000 and we are keeping it going because what we are trying to do is get the decision looked at properly.

“We would like Suffolk [county council] to look at Bury very carefully or allow the Schools Adjudicator to look at it.”

She said the situation in Bury was unique because four schools - Barrow Primary, Westley and Horringer Court Middles and County Upper - were in an all-through structure called the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust.

If the county council’s plans go ahead, there would be both the two-tier structure and the all-through trust operating side by side in Bury.

Speaking of the proposal for two tier, the Best for Bury spokesperson added: “It’s like a juggernaut: it’s coming along rolling into Bury to make two tier happen. But I don’t think the feeling in Bury is for it. I think it’s the opposite.

“And a lot of people are concerned ‘why change something when it’s working well?’”

Ernie Broom, chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants (HEART), said: “A couple of weeks ago people were saying it’s a done deal and there’s nothing we can do. I wasn’t hearing that at all on Saturday.”

Best for Bury, of which HEART is one of the members, supports an all-through system across the whole of the town.

Previously, a Suffolk County Council spokeswoman said the School Organisation Review had already had a positive impact on approving attainment elsewhere in the county.

She said: “The current proposals for the education system in the Bury St Edmunds area have been developed with the Bury Schools Partnership who are, like the county council, passionate about providing the best quality of education for young people in the area.”

To take part in the consultation visit www.suffolk.gov.uk

To join Best for Bury visit www.bestforbury.info

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