Suffolk: Concern at use of temporary classrooms following School Organisation Review

A lively debate at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds during the public meeting called by the Suffolk Actio

A lively debate at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds during the public meeting called by the Suffolk Action for Truth - Credit: Andy Abbott

The use of temporary classrooms to deal with a population boom in Suffolk primary schools caused by a controversial reorganisation of the county’s education system has come under fire from campaigners and unions.

Thirteen temporary buildings at nine different schools, mostly in the west of the county, have either already been put in place by Suffolk County Council (SCC) or are waiting for planning permission.

The move comes as a result of the School Organisation Review (SOR), which will see pupils staying in primary schools for longer as middle schools close and the county moves from a three tier system to two.

County officials have insisted that the move towards temporary classrooms – some of which planning documents suggest could be in place for seven years – are a necessary solution while work is carried out on permanent accommodation.

But Graham White, Suffolk NUT branch secretary, said: “When SOR was first proposed and they said the middle schools were going to close, we sought a guarantee that they would not use temporary classrooms. The answer was they couldn’t give that guarantee, but it would only be a very short term interim measure because those schools would need to expand.”

Mr White added: “But if temporary classrooms are going to be there for six months, a year or longer, then we would have very serious concerns because all pupils deserve excellent education. It is unacceptable that pupils will be educated in temporary classrooms.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Action for Truth said: “Our campaign was to stop them doing this. The fact is this is substandard they didn’t have enough money to do this and they should have stopped.”

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In February, Graham Newman, then the county’s head of education, defended the quality of build at primary and high schools in the Stowmarket and Stowupland area. He also conceded that less money was available for the changes in the area than had been spent in other parts of the county which have already completed their phase of SOR.

According to the county council, a single unit of temporary classrooms has or will be put in place pending planning at Barnham CEVC Primary School on the outskirts of Thetford and Boxford CEVC Primary. Coupals Community Primary in Haverhill, Exning Primary near Newmarket and St Gregory CEVC Primary in Sudbury have double units.

New Cangle Community Primary in Haverhill, Wells Hall Community Primary in Great Cornard, Oulton Broad Primary and Wood Loke Primary in Lowestoft have a double unit and a single unit.

A spokeswoman for SCC said temporary classrooms are in place to help schools accommodate additional pupils as a result of SOR while work for permanent accommodation was underway.