Parents step up fight to save school

PARENTS are set to step up the pressure in the fight to stop one of the county's best performing schools from closing.

Russell Claydon

PARENTS are set to step up the pressure in the fight to stop one of the county's best performing schools from closing.

A meeting is taking place today to gather support to turn doomed Stoke By Nayland Middle School into a flagship secondary.

Under proposals currently being consulted on in the Sudbury and Great Cornard area all middle schools will be shut by 2013 with the primary and secondary schools being expanded to take 11-13 year olds. It is part of Suffolk County Council's bid to move to a two tier education system across the county. But the shake-up has been put on hold in Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket because Government funding is no longer guaranteed.

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Campaigners are unhappy the proposals for Sudbury and Great Cornard will see the later years of compulsory education stripped out of rural areas such as Stoke by Nayland and Clare.

Nicky West, 36, of Stone Street, has organised the meeting in Boxford's School Hall on Stone Street Road at 2pm because of these concerns.

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“There are a lot of rural primary schools around here which are very small and they would go from a year of 30 at Boxford to a year of 300 at Great Cornard which for an 11-year-old is going to be tough,” she said.

“We want to go rural to rural with our children as we have chosen to live in the countryside and it is also about carbon footprint as this will lengthen journey times.”

She added: “Stoke by Nayland Middle School has some of the top grades in the country and our argument is why on earth close an amazing, amazing school when you could turn it into a high school, which it was before the middle school system came in.”

Tim Yeo, Conservative MP for South Suffolk, said the scheme, like a similar proposal for Clare, had his full backing.

“We are very keen to give parents a much bigger say of how schools are run,” he said. “It is a good idea. I have also been concerned about the size of some of these schools resulting from the School Organisation Review and at Stoke by Nayland there has been a lot of concern and support for keeping it.

“In the context of Suffolk it would be a great shame and loss if all the children were herded into schools in the larger towns and we want to preserve the rural character.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council, the local education authority, would not go into a detailed response on the idea whilst still in a consultation in the area until December 18.

“At present we are still consulting on a pattern of schools for the future and at this stage we are happy to receive any comments and suggestions the public wish to put forward,” she said.

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