Talks with minister over 'doomed' school

PARENTS wanting to turn a doomed middle school into a new community college will meet with schools minister Jim Knight tomorrow to discuss their plans.

Laurence Cawley

PARENTS wanting to turn a doomed middle school into a new community college will meet with schools minister Jim Knight tomorrow to discuss their plans.

Earlier this year, the county council voted to shut Clare Middle School as part of its school organisation review which will see a uniform two-tier education system introduced in Suffolk.

Under the scheme, children who would previously have gone to the middle school will in the future be sent to high schools in Haverhill.

But parents in Clare launched a campaign to use the Clare Middle School site for a new community college which would serve children in the town and surrounding areas.

The scheme has been backed by South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo and North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin.

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Tomorrow, the campaign group - called Clare and Local Area for Rural Education (CLARE) - will travel down to London to meet with schools minister Jim Knight.

Jim Meikle, CLARE chairman, said he was excited about the meeting.

“We will be meeting with him to look at the proposals we are putting forward,” he said.

He added the possible designation of Clare as one of St Edmundsbury Borough Council's “key service centres” in its Local Development Framework - a document which will guide future development in the borough - could only bolster their case for a community college.

Last month CLARE campaigners revealed they had amassed more than 1,000 letters of support for their proposals.

When the county council's cabinet voted through proposals for the Haverhill area, which included shutting Clare Middle School, in June, Patricia O'Brien, portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services, said the move was based on the principles of “effective use of resources” and “creating a successful school system for the 21st century”.

She said: “These proposals will help raise standards and encourage young people to achieve their full potential as well as ensuring schools are located where they can best serve their community.

“The changes will also help us to maximise benefits from funding opportunities, for example, significant capital funding available to Suffolk over the next 15 years through the Building Schools for the Future programme.”

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