Community college plan revealed in Clare

CAMPAIGNERS who want to save a doomed middle school by creating a community college are seeking support ahead of a “critical stage” in the proposal.

CAMPAIGNERS who want to save a doomed middle school by creating a community college are seeking support ahead of a “critical stage” in the proposal.

This week, those fighting to keep senior school education in Clare, near Sudbury, formally unveiled plans for the Stour Valley Community College.

The bid is in response to Suffolk County Council's decision to scrap middle schools.

Campaign group Clare and Local Area for Rural Education (CLARE) wanted the town's middle school to be made into a new high school for the area.

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Instead, the council opted to enlarge the two upper schools in Haverhill to accommodate youngsters from Clare.

Parents angry at having to send their children to Haverhill say the proposed college would use the facilities of the old middle school and take on many of its staff to teach pupils from a catchment area including parts of north Essex as well as the area around Clare itself.

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They are confident their plan will be successful thanks to government legislation which allows parent and community-backed bids to set up senior schools if they comply with the correct criteria.

Jim Meikle, chairman of the CLARE group, said: “This has now become a community and parental sponsorship of a new school, which has moved on from argument of the future of the middle school.

“The proposal to government is a critical stage in the campaign to save secondary education in rural west Suffolk communities and it also offers an excellent educational opportunity for our near neighbours in north west Essex, with significant economic and environmental advantages.”

The next step for the new school, which is based on the model of the Cambridgeshire Community College, will be to set up a governing body before the bid is considered by Alan Johnson, the Secretary of State for Education, in September.

Mr Meikle said many different organisations and individuals, including some Essex County Council members, were supporting the bid, which must also put together a detailed financial proposal.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “The county council are aware the CLARE group intend to submit a formal proposal. There is a process for such parent groups to follow and when their full proposals are received the council will consider them accordingly.”

After presentations in Clare and Hundon there will be presentations at 8pm in Glemsford Church Hall on July 15, at Belchamp Community House the following day and Wickhambrook Pavilion Lounge the day after.

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