Middle schools axe 'driven by finances'

THE proposed abolition of Suffolk's 40 middle schools has been branded a cost-saving measure by the president of a teachers' union.Brian Garvey, president of NASUWT (The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) said the middle school shake-up was “financially convenient” for Suffolk County Council during his visit to Leiston Middle School yesterday.

THE proposed abolition of Suffolk's 40 middle schools has been branded a cost-saving measure by the president of a teachers' union.

Brian Garvey, president of NASUWT (The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) said the middle school shake-up was “financially convenient” for Suffolk County Council during his visit to Leiston Middle School yesterday.

Mr Garvey said: “There's no overwhelming evidence to show that it is a good thing to do but it's financially convenient and that's the biggest thing.”

He said that as a teachers union they were concerned about their members and also for the children.


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Mr Garvey said: “We've got teachers that have spent their whole lives in middle schools who will be given a choice to either work in a high school where they will have to teach GCSEs which they have never done before.

“This will involve a lot of training which is going to be very expensive for the local authority.”

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He said that the children will also be affected by all the upheaval.

“The pupils only get one chance and who are these people to mess around with that?” said Mr Garvey. “It wouldn't be a responsibility I would like to take on board.”

But he said it was not too late for parents to fight back. He said: “If there's a way to stop the change it has got to come from the parents.”

He said he had visited schools all around the country, and some abroad too, and had seen cases where in a two-tier system the high schools get younger children to take just three or four subjects at first to ease gently into the transfer.

“That to me would suggest that if they had middle schools they wouldn't have to do that,” he said. “Where changes have taken place it's been on financial grounds.”

Suffolk County Council's cabinet agreed the move to axe the county's 40 middle schools this week. It must now be ratified by the full council, and if that happens, closures could start by 2009.

The council has maintained the proposals are not a cost-saving measure but aim to improve standards across the board.

A spokesperson said: “It will be more economic but that's not the driving force behind it and it never has been.

“The savings which will be made as a result of the change will go back into training and into the schools - it's all about improving education.”

He said they did not expect middle school teachers to go straight into secondary or primary teaching but to undertake professional training.

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