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New school plans axed after funding pulled

Vicky Neale at Westley school playing fields in Bury St Edmunds where the new County STEM academy was expected to be built Picture: COUNTY UPPER SCHOOL

Vicky Neale at Westley school playing fields in Bury St Edmunds where the new County STEM academy was expected to be built Picture: COUNTY UPPER SCHOOL

Archant

A planned new multi-million pound science, technology, engineering and maths academy in Bury St Edmunds has been axed after the government pulled funding due to a lack of students.

Artist's impression of the  County STEM school. The project has been axed by the Government Picture: COUNTY UPPER SCHOOLArtist's impression of the County STEM school. The project has been axed by the Government Picture: COUNTY UPPER SCHOOL

The Department for Education (DfE) said "there is no longer need for the places created" by the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust's STEM Academy.

The academy, also known as County STEM, was due to open in September 2020 at the trust's Westley Middle School campus on Oliver Road and would have catered for up to 530 students.

MORE: Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust STEM Academy gets government funding for new school

Main construction had not started at the site but preparation works had begun and Steve Boor, chairman of the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust, said "all areas will be reinstated at the DfE's expense".

Bury St Edmunds County Upper School is still looking to enhance its STEM offer for September 2020 Picture: ARCHANTBury St Edmunds County Upper School is still looking to enhance its STEM offer for September 2020 Picture: ARCHANT

Mr Boor said: "The Bury St Edmunds All-through Trust is very disappointed to announce that the DfE has decided to withdraw funding for the proposed Bury St Edmunds STEM Academy.

"We have been working to deliver this project for many years and believe it would have offered something new and exciting for the pupils of west Suffolk.

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"We are particularly disappointed for the many companies who had supported this project.

"The reason for the cancellation is that Suffolk County Council has recently revised figures for the DfE showing pupil numbers in the town which indicate that there are sufficient school places looking forward."

MORE: Bury moves towards controversial two-tier system

Mr Boor added that County Upper School, as part of the trust, already offers a "significant STEM programme" and will be looking to enhance that offer with the support of the companies involved in the project from September 2020.

A DfE spokesman said: "The latest pupil projections show there is no longer need for the places created by the Bury St Edmunds Technical Academy.

"This means there is a risk that any new school would either not be able to attract enough pupils to be viable or harm pupil numbers at neighbouring schools.

"It is on these grounds that we have taken the decision not to pursue the planned Bury St Edmunds Technical Academy before applications for places had opened or construction had begun."

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: "Suffolk County Council provided pupil forecasting information at the request of the DfE as part of their decision making process.

"Although Suffolk County Council is one of a number of consultees, the decision making process sits entirely with the DfE."

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