A victory for campaigners who want to save a special school from academisation

The Bridge School in Sprites Lane

The Bridge School in Sprites Lane - Credit: Gregg Brown

Campaigners are celebrating a surprise victory after Suffolk County Council conceded an Ipswich special school does not meet the criteria to be forced to academise.

Campaigners are celebrating a surprise victory after Suffolk County Council conceded an Ipswich special school does not meet the criteria to be forced to academise.

The Bridge School, in Sprites Lane, seemed as though its fate had been sealed after an Interim Executive Board (IEB) was installed in October in place of school governors.

At the time, Suffolk County Council said an ‘automatic consequence’ of this would be to ‘find an academy sponsor to bring the school into a multi-academy trust.’

However, a letter from Judith Mobbs, assistant director for children and young people at SCC, issued to parents yesterday said: “I can confirm that because the school is not in special measures, the Secretary of State has not issued an order to academise the Bridge... I know that parents and carers are particularly concerned about this and whether this is the right time for the Bridge to become an academy..so to immediately reassure you, I can confirm that an academy solution is not a priority for the local authority at this time.”


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The letter goes on to say that The Secretary of State has asked the IEB to consider whether academisation would be beneficial to the school, unless the school slipped into special measures, it would be a decision that would be taken locally.

Matt Porter, joint chair of the Bridge School Action Group, who has a child at the school said: “We are delighted the local authority have decided to halt the process of academisation and we are looking forward to starting to see some benefits for the children, because they are the ones that matter. They have suffered a lot throughout these past few months and they continue to do so. These are children with special needs, many of whom are children of routine, so this has been very, very difficult. If you change the slightest little thing at their school it can affect them greatly. Upheaval and stress like this is very damaging to them so we are all hoping for a stable future for the Bridge school.”

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Margaret Bulaitis, NUT said: “We’re relieved to hear that this decision has been made. It is the right one. To have sent the Bridge School down the route of uncertainty would have been irresponsible. The task now is to ensure that the children have access to a fully funded education service that they rightly deserve.”

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