NUT plea over middle schools axe

A TEACHING union has made an eleventh hour plea for councillors not to “sign the death warrant” for Suffolk's 40 middle schools.Suffolk County Council will meet on Thursday to decide whether to press ahead with the plans, which would see a two-tier education system introduced county-wide - and middle schools abolished.

A TEACHING union has made an eleventh hour plea for councillors not to “sign the death warrant” for Suffolk's 40 middle schools.

Suffolk County Council will meet on Thursday to decide whether to press ahead with the plans, which would see a two-tier education system introduced county-wide - and middle schools abolished.

But the National Union of Teachers (NUT) yesterday urged council members to rethink the education review.

In a letter to all councillors, Martin Goold, division secretary of Suffolk NUT, urged all council members “not to sign the death warrant of all our middle schools”.


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He also accused the council's defence of its proposals of being “reprehensible”, claiming they had “denigrated the achievements and ethos of middle schools”, “used statistics without adjusting for social deprivation” and “pressurised headteachers into openly supporting the proposals”.

But a council spokesman responded: “This type of statement is not at all helpful at a time when we are seeking to have a serious and profound debate to improve the education system in Suffolk.

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“However, if the council approve the proposals on March 22, we will continue to work with the associations on the detailed implementation of the review.”

Concerns over the proposals have also been raised by parents, who fear if middle schools are axed, primary and secondary schools would need to set up temporary classrooms to cater for extra pupils.

They fear temporary classrooms might become permanent fixtures and be installed on playground and playing field areas. Forty eight of the county's temporary classrooms date back more than three decades to the last major reorganisation during the 1970s.

But the county council has again moved to reassure parents, saying many schools could take more children without needing extra buildings, and that temporary classrooms, if used, would be of a high quality.

Patricia O'Brien, the council's portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services, said: “I understand that parents are concerned that their children may suffer during the changes. But I can give a categorical assurance to all parents that we will carry out our duty of care to their children with the utmost consideration.”

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