Poll shows support for middle schools

NEARLY 90% of middle and upper school heads who took part in an EADT opinion poll are against controversial moves to impose a two-tier education system across Suffolk.

NEARLY 90% of middle and upper school heads who took part in an EADT opinion poll are against controversial moves to impose a two-tier education system across Suffolk.

Later this month Suffolk County Council will decide whether to scrap middle schools as part of its School Organisation Review.

Supporters of the review claim many headteachers secretly support the review while opponents claim very few of them do.

To test the claims, the EADT carried out an anonymous poll to gauge the private views of all 40 middle and 38 upper/high school heads about the proposed changes.

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Of those polled, just 19 heads responded (24%), with only two, both of whom are in charge of upper schools, declaring themselves in support of the review and 17 declaring themselves against the changes.

One headteacher told how a fifth of his staff had already come to him to discuss their fears for the future, another criticised the way the consultation was carried out and another claimed there were better ways hundreds of millions of pounds could be spent.

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But heads supporting the changes have branded middle schools an “anachronism” and voiced solidarity with the politicians at county hall who, they claim, “are being heavily criticised for doing what we elect them to do - show long-term leadership”.

Steve Cowper, of Parents Against Change, which is campaigning to halt the review and save the county's middle schools, said: “I am not at all surprised by this - there is no silent majority on an issue like this.

“We should be listening to these people, they are the experts. The council is claiming all the time that they need to listen to their experts at County Hall. They should be listening to the people at the coalface, and they are the headteachers.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council also said the results were not surprising adding: “What is surprising is that so few people responded.

“All of those who said 'no' were at middle schools and all those who said 'yes' were at upper schools. I don't think there's any surprise in that. I don't think there a great deal of significance in it.”

The full council will decide on the school organisation review on March 22.


What Suffolk's headteachers really think of the review:

“I fully support the SOR's (school organisation review) main findings. I am sure that 11-19 schools are the way forward and that middle schools are an anachronism.”

“I believe there are a multitude of ways in which we could put £500 million to the good use of schools and to move forward the educational experience of our pupils - but this is not the way to do it.”

“I feel that the whole review is madness in the context that the only current two tier area of Suffolk is likely to be reorganised if, on March 26, Ipswich learns that it is to become a unitary authority.”

“Middle schools do a great job. If a car isn't broken you don't take it to the garage.”

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