Bury St Edmunds: Call by councillor to pause move to two-tier education in town

David Nettleton

David Nettleton - Credit: Archant

BOROUGH councillor David Nettleton called tonight for the re-organisation of schools in Bury St Edmunds to be paused following a briefing on an initiative to improve standards in Suffolk.

Suffolk County Council officer Allan Cadzow spoke about Raising the Bar at an Our Place Forum meeting at West Suffolk House in Bury last night.

One of the focuses of Raising the Bar is the completion of the Schools Organisation Review (SOR) which is bringing in a two-tier system of education across the county.

Mr Cadzow, who was representing Suffolk’s new head of education Sue Cook, said: “We have always said three-tier is a systemic problem.

“It’s not about headteachers or governors or teachers not being good enough. It’s about the system does not actually work.”

But Mr Nettleton, an independent St Edmundsbury borough councillor, said: “I have had three children go through the three-tier system in Bury St Edmunds. They all have attended university. The first two have got degrees and the third one is due to sit their finals this summer.

“Please don’t tell me the three-tier system doesn’t work.

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“You write in your briefing here Suffolk is stuck. It’s stuck in quicksand the county council has created and what we should be doing is pausing the re-organisation of schools in this town until we have sorted out all the issues.”

Referring to an interview in The East Anglian Daily Times with Ms Cook, he said the county council’s ambition “is limited”.

He added: “It’s absolutely terrible and you should be doing something about it.”

Ms Cook has pledged to ensure Suffolk’s schools will be in the top 25% in the country in the next five years.

A member of the public who spoke at the Our Place Forum, but did not want to be named, said: “Here in Bury we have actually got three schools that consistently produce really, really good results (at GCSE and A-level).”

One of the schools he highlighted was County Upper School which is the top-performing state school in the county for students gaining five A* to C-grades at GCSE or equivalent including English and maths.

He added: “What we don’t want to see is any retrograde step to take us backwards.”

Mr Cadzow said: “Attainment and progress at age 11 in re-organised areas is now significantly better than before and attainment did not fall during re-organisation.”

In Bury public consultation on SOR is due to take place later this year. The final report on Raising the Bar is due to be published in May.

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