Suffolk: More middle schools set to be abolished in Stowmarket/Stowupland area

MIDDLE schools in the Stowmarket and Stowupland catchment areas are set to be abolished by September 2015 after Suffolk’s cabinet gave the go ahead for the next phase of reorganisation.

Schools in the area will change from three-tier to two-tier, with the changes starting in September 2014 and being completed the following year.

Statutory notices heralding the change will now be published and the final decision to go ahead with the reorganisation is expected to be made by the county’s cabinet in February next year.

Councillor with responsibility for children and young people Graham Newman said statistics showed that pupils did better if they only had one upheaval during their school career.

He said it was vital to improve students’ attainment, especially at GCSE level, and said performances had improved in areas where changes had been introduced.

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A slight majority of parents who had been consulted about the changes were opposed to the reorganisation, but cabinet member Lisa Chambers said her children had been involved in changes in the Forest Heath area and this had been managed well by the council.

Liberal Democrat spokeswoman Penny Otten, who represents a division affected by the proposed changes, said she understood the changes would be coming in, but had concerns about some of the proposals.

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Four middle schools – at Combs, Needham Market, Bacton, and Stowmarket – would close. However Stowmarket Middle School’s buildings would be an extension to the town’s high school.

Mrs Otten said: “I am concerned about the split site – you will have pupils walking from one site to another. Would it not be better to use the middle school site for the sixth form.”

Mr Newman said the headteacher was keen to have the sixth form on the site of the main school, and there were not enough students in the sixth form to fill the middle school site.

Green councillor Andrew Stringer was concerned that the changes would not be well-funded enough: “There are fears that school libraries will be moved into corridors rather than being in dedicated classrooms.”

Mr Newman said there would be investment in the schools to ensure there was enough space – and lessons learned during the earlier school reorganisation processes would be applied to these changes.

Stowmarket councillor Anne Whybrow welcomed the move and said the head of the town’s high school had experience of managing a split site.

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