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Mixed emotions as three mid Suffolk schools close doors to pupils for the final time

PUBLISHED: 06:00 18 July 2015

The last day at Needham Market Middle School before its closure.

The last day at Needham Market Middle School before its closure.

Archant

It was a day of mixed emotions yesterday as three of four middle schools in mid Suffolk closed their doors to pupils for the last time.

The last day at Bacton Middle School before its closure. Pupils and staff enjoying an It's A Knockout competition. Some of the staff. The last day at Bacton Middle School before its closure. Pupils and staff enjoying an It's A Knockout competition. Some of the staff.

Yesterday, pupils at Bacton Middle School, Combs Middle School and Needham Market Middle School sat in their classrooms and ran around in the playgrounds they had become accustomed to for the last time, as the three-tier education system serving Stowmarket and the surrounding area came to an end.

Stowmarket Middle School is also closing but pupils’ there will be present until Wednesday.

In February 2013, Suffolk County Council voted unanimously to close the four middle schools.

When the decision was made, the council argued closing the schools will lead to improved results and is an integral part in raising attainment levels across Suffolk.

The last day at Bacton Middle School before its closure. Pupils and staff enjoying an It's A Knockout competition. The last day at Bacton Middle School before its closure. Pupils and staff enjoying an It's A Knockout competition.

Ian Kearns, headteacher at Needham, said pupils had enjoyed a lunch cooked by staff to mark the closure.

Mr Kearns said: “The strapline of the school is we are a success and we are celebrating that fact.

“The children have had the best year they have ever had.

“They had a Needham Market Middle School’s got Talent event, a school dance event, which is on DVD.

“This last week we have had a professional theatre company Eastern Angles, a trip to Pleasurewood Hills.

“The teachers have been fantastic in giving their all in making it the best year for everyone.”

Mr Kearns said Ofsted inspection results and standards showed the school was a success and said many teachers were not staying in teaching. He added: “The majority are going to be taking redundancy packets or early retirement.

“These teachers have got skills Suffolk can’t do without. It’s stupid.

“You could possibly say it was short-sighted that opportunities were not made available to them to stay in teaching.

“Ofsted results say we are a success and standards show we are successful.

“We’re glad, pleased and proud to be successful and to be a heart of the community of Needham Market.

“We have got pictures of the site from 1875, and had 1,000 people come to our open days.

“There were people in their 80s, 70s, 60s, 50s, 40s, 30s and 20s, I couldn’t believe it.”

He added he thought it was remarkable that people in their 80s still had vivid memories of their time in the middle school, and wished the schools that would be expanding in September luck for the future, and said: “To be as good as us they will be successful.”

Combs Middle School, in Lavenham Way, had a quiet day to say goodbye to the site, with headteacher Mark Cresswell saying children having a “lovely term of trips and visits.”

Mr Cresswell added: “We’re incredibly sad we’re closing, we understand why and hope children get as good of an education when they leave.”

Kate Kingsford-Bere, acting deputy headteacher of Stowmarket Middle School, said: “Stowmarket middle is proud of its achievements, it is a good school with a committed staff and talented pupils – it is with great sadness that it is to close its doors to pupils for the final time at the end of July.

“We wish all its staff and pupils continued success in the future.”

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for skills, Lisa Chambers, said: “I am sure that there will be many mixed emotions as middle schools close.

“I would like to thank all our headteachers, staff and governors for their commitment to ensuring that pupils have been well supported during these changes.”

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