Parents told of primary school shake-up

PARENTS have been told they may have to accept “unpalatable” options in a bid to raise wider education standards across Suffolk.

Will Clarke

PARENTS have been told they may have to accept “unpalatable” options in a bid to raise wider education standards across Suffolk.

The county council is considering merging and relocating a number of primary schools as part of a wide ranging consultation on learning reform.

Speaking yesterday Patricia O'Brien, portfolio holder for children and young people and a member of the school organisation review committee, stressed that although tough choices lay ahead their policies were concerned with improving education in Suffolk.


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The proposals form part of the council's school organisation review which will take Suffolk from a three-tier to two-tier education authority.

In the current phase the authority is consulting on how the scheme, which involves abolishing all 40 middle schools, might unfold in the Forest Heath, Bungay and Halesworth areas.

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Among its preferred options are a “relocation” of Tuddenham Primary to Red Lodge and the merging of Paddocks Primary with Houldsworth Valley Primary in Newmarket - to create what parents are calling a “super primary”.

For Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth, the council's preferred option is the expansion of primary schools to cater for those children who would have gone to middle schools.

However, the council has also proposed secondary options which include merging Bramfield with Wenhaston primary, Edgar Sewter in Halesworth with Holton St Peter primary, Ilketshall St Lawrence with Brampton and Ringsfield primaries and amalgamation of Barnby and North Cove primary with Worlingham.

The council said the idea of merging schools was not being actively considered but had been included in case the public wanted to debate those options.

Mrs O'Brien said the responses had been broadly positive.

“We've got 56 schools in the consultation process and we aren't getting any negative feedback - in Beccles, Bungay and Leiston it has been very positive,” she said. “There the headteachers have been talking about this for some time so they have a pretty good idea of the process but there has not been the same liaison in the west so things aren't as advanced there.

“Changes have to be made and sometimes choices aren't very palatable but we have got to make them. Some people will be disappointed that is how things are.

“There is every chance things will change but not the basic principles - this is part of a huge programme of raising standards.”

Parents, who have until December 15 to have their say, can find a copy of the consultation information on www.suffolk.gov.uk/sor/group2 or by calling 08456 031842.

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