Bury St Edmunds: Suffolk County Council commitment young people will be at heart of education shake-up

Focused Ofsted inspections begin to look at Suffolk's under-performing schools

Focused Ofsted inspections begin to look at Suffolk's under-performing schools - Credit: PA

The woman who is leading an estimated £22-24million education shake-up in Bury St Edmunds has insisted young people will be at the heart of it.

Yesterday Suffolk County Council reaffirmed its commitment to the School Organisation Review programme - which is pushing for the abolition of middle schools across the county - and ensuring the final phase - in Bury - focuses on young people and their education.

Public consultation will begin next month on the proposals for the future of schools in the area, which will include the closure of Howard Middle School, Hardwick Middle School and St James Middle School.

Just this week Ofsted inspectors began a swoop on schools in Suffolk after results showed that one in three children in the county are not going to a “good” primary school, plus performance at secondary school level is also below the national average.

Advocates of two-tier education believe a county-wide move to this structure will help raise attainment.

Amid concern there has been inadequate funding for the latter phases of SOR, project leader Joy Stodart said an estimated £22million to £24million would be enough to complete the job in Bury.

The cash is earmarked for a new secondary school at Moreton Hall and new or improved classrooms at existing schools.

Most Read

Mrs Stodart said: “It’s very much a matter of collaborative working, making sure standards don’t slip and the children are the priority through the changes and that comes about really through people co-ordinating and working closely together and communicating well with families.”

The Bury Schools Partnership was launched earlier this year with the aim of making sure the transition from three-tier to two-tier education goes as smoothly as possible.

The proposals will have implications for the 13 primary schools, three middle schools and King Edward VI School which are in the partnership.

But County Upper School, Horringer Court Middle School, Westley Middle School and Barrow CEVC Primary School, which together make up the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust, will not be part of the consultation.

Mrs Stodart added: “Bury Schools Partnership want us to move ahead with the reorganisation in the town because they want consistency with the rest of the county and the rest of the country. They don’t want to be a small island of three-tier, they want to have one point of transfer for young people.”

Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “I don’t think the whole SOR process is well enough thought out. I don’t think there are sufficiently strong arguments in terms of getting rid of the middle schools.

“The middle schools are doing a really good job.”

Geoff Barton, headteacher of King Edward VI School, said: “I think for all of us, whether in the Bury Academy Trust or Bury Schools Partnership, we are determined this is not going to become a political issue.”

He added while the co-existence of the all-through trust system and two-tier could be confusing for parents, they had choice as to where to send their children.

The consultation runs from October 7 to December 13.