Suffolk's last two middle schools set to close next year

Westley Middle School in Bury St Edmunds

Westley Middle School in Bury St Edmunds is set to close in 2023 - Credit: Archant

The last remaining middle schools in Suffolk are set to close after plans to restructure four schools in Bury St Edmunds were approved.

Unity Schools Partnership published proposals in January for the reorganisation of Tollgate Primary, Horringer Court Middle, Westley Middle and County Upper schools. 

Over four weeks of consultation, meetings were held with staff and parents at each of the schools as well four public meetings, an online meeting and with representatives of groups that put forward alternative proposals.

However, on Monday the trust wrote to school governors, staff and parents to say it would be proposing the following to the Department for Education:

  • To request an extension of the age ranges of children at Tollgate and County Upper and the closure of Horringer Court and Westley middle schools in August 2023.
  • To carry out further work on developing specialist facilities for the proposed expanded Tollgate Primary School.
  • That the proposed extension of County Upper School make use of the Westley site for Years 7 and 8 for the foreseeable future.
  • To subsidise transport to Westley and Horringer Court schools during 2022-23 so that there is no increase in costs to families as a result of the proposed changes.

Christine Quinn, chair of the trust board, said: "We were very grateful for all who engaged in the consultation and in particular we recognised the disappointment expressed by many who explained their strong views about the value of a middle school education.

“The trust board believes that the overall rationale for the proposals is strong and that they are in the best interests of the education of children in Bury St Edmunds and surrounding areas, both now and in the future.

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"We are determined that the strong features of the current schools are maintained in the new system being proposed."

Tim Coulson, chief executive of Unity Schools Partnership, said: "The trust recognises the highly professional way that staff have continued to work in the context of the publication of these very significant proposals.

"The responses during the consultation have improved the proposals and we will carry out further work on developing specialist facilities for the proposed expanded Tollgate Primary School, make use of the Westley site for Years 7 and 8 for the foreseeable future and will ensure that there is no increase in costs to families next school year to both Horringer Court and Westley schools as a result of these proposed changes."