Middle schools outperform rivals

CAMPAIGNERS claim plans to axe all 40 middle schools in Suffolk have “no educational justification” - after the council published a document showing three-tier schools outperformed their two-tier rivals.

Laurence Cawley

CAMPAIGNERS claim plans to axe all 40 middle schools in Suffolk have “no educational justification” - after the council published a document showing three-tier schools outperformed their two-tier rivals.

As part of its school organisation review the county council is planning to abolish middle schools and impose a single two-tier education system across the entire county.

But a document drawn up by the county council, and seen by the EADT, shows schools in the three-tier area of Bury St Edmunds outperform not only its two-tier counterparts in Suffolk but also many other local authority school areas.


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The document, which shows more than 80% of key stage three children in Bury achieve level five or higher compared with about 75% in Suffolk as a whole and about 73% nationally, has sparked anger among members of the Save Suffolk Middle Schools(SSMS) campaign group.

The county council defended its plans saying although children in the Bury area, which has six middle schools, did well they would do even better under a two tier system.

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A spokesman for the SSMS group urged individuals and councils in the area to “pursue all legal and other channels” against the county council's plans.

He said: “Contextual value added (CVA) figures (a measure of the actual progress made by children) show that Bury St. Edmunds schools out-perform both Suffolk and England by a considerable margin.

“This proves that we have very good schools producing excellent results across the years. The organisational structure clearly does not interfere with excellent educational outcomes.

“There is therefore no educational justification for closing middle schools, moving to two tiers and all the educational disruption and expense which this will entail - and all of this in a document prepared by the very people who are trying to convince us that middle schools are failing our children.”

In Saxmundham campaigners looking to stop the town's middle school from closing said they were not overly surprised by the Bury results.

Belinda Moore, a school governor at Saxmundham Primary School, said: “You can see in smaller schools children feel more comfortable and learn better.”

A spokesman for the county council said: “The school performance tables show that children in Bury get good results and make good progress from age 11 to 16.

“However the same performance tables show that from the age of 7 to 11 most pupils do not make as much progress as might be expected.

“Children could do even better at age 16 than they do now if they started from higher levels of achievement at age 11.

“When the county council considered the research relating to the difference in achievement between the two tier and the three tier system it found that young people who continued at primary school until the age of 11 before transferring to upper school made better progress.”

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