Decision taken to close middle schools

CAMPAIGNERS fighting against the closure of 12 middle schools in Suffolk were left devastated today after a decision was taken to close them.

Anthony Bond

CAMPAIGNERS fighting against the closure of 12 middle schools in Suffolk were left devastated today after a decision was taken to close them.

Suffolk County Council's cabinet agreed to close the schools in Haverhill and Lowestoft at its meeting todayas part of the ongoing school organisation review.

The review seeks to introduce a single two-tier education system across the whole county.

Following yesterday's decision statutory notices will now be issued to close Haverhill's Castle Middle, Chalkstone Middle and Parkway Middle, and Clare Middle.

In Lowestoft, similar notices will be issued for Lothingland, Foxborough, Harris, Roman Hill, Kirkley, Pakefield, Elm Tree and Gisleham middle schools.

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Speaking after the decision was taken, Councillor Jane Bone, who represents Clare for St Edmundsbury Council, said: “I am sure that I speak for Clare when I say that we are all extremely upset and devastated by this news.

“The whole of Clare wants to keep its school in Clare, it is a very fine school.”

In Haverhill, the two existing upper schools will be expanded to meet a full secondary age complement and all primaries in the area will be expanded to cater for two additional year groups, for children aged 10 and 11.

The decision will also result in a new high school for the south of Lowestoft on the site of the current Pakefield Middle school and a new combined post-16 education centre for Lowestoft is also planned.

During the meeting a number of county councillors spoke out against the plans including Cllr Richard Kemp, representing Melford, who said the consultation was “seriously flawed” and could be challenged by legal experts.

Cllr Jane Midwood, who represents Clare, said that faced with enormous public concern she could not support the proposals. “The recommendation is contrary to what the people of Clare and the surrounding area want. I ask you from the bottom of my heart to please reconsider.”

But the council decided to give its backing to the proposals, which will cost £23million to implement.

Cabinet member councillor Guy McGregor said: “The whole underlying principle behind the change is to improve the quality of education to the people of Suffolk and that is driving this position of the county council.”

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