11 middle schools to be axed in Suffolk

PLANS to scrap abolish middle schools in a number of Suffolk towns have been approved by council bosses.

Tom Potter

PLANS to scrap abolish middle schools in a number of Suffolk towns have been approved by council bosses.

The county council's cabinet passed proposals for the Beccles, Bungay, Leiston, Saxmundham, Newmarket, Mildenhall and Brandon areas yesterday - although a final decision on removing the three-tier education system across the county will not be made until June.

Following a three-month public consultation into the structure of schooling, the council adopted the preferred option of closing four middle schools in the Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth areas by September 2012 and extending the age range of surrounding primary and high schools.

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A further seven schools around the county would also close, including Saxmundham Middle and Leiston Middle.

The cabinet gave the go-ahead for pupils currently in years three, four and five in the affected areas to remain in their primary schools until the age of 11 before moving on to high school.

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When implemented, the changes will see Sir John Leman High School in Beccles take in pupils between 11 and 13, which will mean expanding the school building. The site of Beccles Middle School, which will close in 2012, may be used by Sir John Leman as an annexe to accommodate this expansion.

Meanwhile, Worlingham Middle School could become the future location of Worlingham Primary.

Bungay Middle School will also transfer its pupils to high school by stopping admissions, before closing in 2012 and becoming available as an annexe for Bungay High.

Halesworth Middle School, which faces the same fate, will either be used in the future by the Halesworth Skills Centre or be sold off to provide funding to invest in other schools.

Newmarket's Paddocks Primary School had been facing a merger with Houldsworth Valley Primary School, but both will be allowed to stay open as separate entities.

Scaltback Middle and St Felix Middle will both close under the proposal.

In the Mildenhall and Brandon area, College Heath Middle School, Riverside Middle School and Breckland Middle School all face closure by 2012.

Patricia O'Brien, portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services, said: “We need to raise levels of achievement in all Suffolk schools to help young people to compete in an increasingly tough employment market. These recommendations will help achieve this.

“We value the staff in our schools and will be investing in training and other development opportunities to ensure they are able to transfer into the new system.”

Following yesterday's decision, public notices will be published in March and displayed outside each of the affected schools, as well as in other public places such as libraries. The information will also be available on the county council's website.

People will then have six weeks in which to send in their comments before a final decision is taken in the summer.

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