‘Changing landscape’ leaves Suffolk schools with 100-plus vacant Year 7 places

Thurston Community College principal Helen Wilson.

Thurston Community College principal Helen Wilson. - Credit: Gregg Brown

schools in Suffolk are set to have more than 100 spare places for Year 7 pupils this September, new figures have revealed.


The data shows huge differences between secondary schools, as 15 out of 41 schools or colleges are at full capacity, while eight will have 60 or more free spaces.

Lowestoft’s East Point Academy is more than two thirds empty, according to the figures – with 176 places still available out of a total of 240 for Year 7.

Alde Valley Academy in Leiston is filling 60 out of its 180 spaces in the year group come September.

Emma Laflin, the academy’s principal, said the school had faced “increased competition” since Saxmundham Free School opened in 2012.

Christine Wood

Christine Wood - Credit: Archant

“The educational landscape of the local area has changed dramatically since 2012,” she said.

“Alde Valley Academy accepted Year 7 and 8 students for the first time in September 2012, at the same time as a free school opened in our local area, providing local parents with a much wider choice of schools, and therefore bringing increased competition amongst those schools to attract students. During all the changes that have taken place, our published admission number has remained the same at 180.”

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All 300 Thurston Community College Year 7 places – the second most offered anywhere in Suffolk – have been taken.

And it is the case with several other schools which offer at least 250 places: Copleston High School, Farlingaye High School, Kesgrave High School, Northgate High School, Samuel Ward Academy and Sir John Leman High School are all at capacity.

Ormiston Endeavour Academy has been placed in special measures by Ofsted.

Ormiston Endeavour Academy has been placed in special measures by Ofsted.

According to the figures, the former Thurleston High School, now Ormiston Endeavour Academy would need 95 students to be at capacity of 180. But a spokesman for the academy said they had received more than 120 applications for the next academic year.

The school was placed into special measures last week after an Ofsted inspection.

A spokesman for Ormiston Academies Trust said: “There were 124 applications from parents for the Year 7 places available at Ormiston Endeavour Academy for the next academic year.

“The number of students set to start at the academy in September has already risen since the application deadline and will continue to do so over the summer. As with previous years, we expect the final intake to be in line with local demographics, and reflective of the general position locally, where there is currently a surplus of secondary school places.”

“Additionally, a new principal, who is a ‘talented leader’, started at the academy this term and will work alongside a National Leader in Education, driving improvements that will make Endeavour the first choice for all local families.”

Suffolk County Council, which is responsible for education in the county, said that despite almost 700 more students applying for a Year 7 place this year compared to last, the number of students getting their first choice school rose from 92.7% to 93.9%.