West Suffolk: Church is exploring possibility of free school at Ixworth Middle

A RIVAL bid for a free school at the site of a middle school in Ixworth is being explored by the Church.

A group of parents are already working on a bid with the Seckford Foundation for a free school which would be at Ixworth Middle after it has closed.

But the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese has announced it is exploring the possibility of a free school at the same site, working with the Thurston Partnership group of schools.

The Thurston Partnership, which is made up of Thurston Community College and the 17 primaries in the area, is driving a move to a two-tier education system. Currently the structure is three-tier so the change, which has been approved by Suffolk County Council, will see the closure of Ixworth Middle, Blackbourne Middle in Stanton and Beyton Middle.

A spokesman for the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese said: “Our vision is for a school with a distinctively Christian ethos for 11 to 16-year-olds, and an inclusive approach, rooted in the community.

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“Our church schools locally are keen that we explore this option and we are keen to meet local need and establishing parental demand is an important part of the application process.

“We would only consider proceeding if this is an option parents locally would like from the Church and meetings will be arranged for parents to hear their thoughts.”

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He added: “With the planned closure of middle schools, we have an opportunity in Suffolk to do something new, using the free school route. A final decision by the diocese will be taken at the end of November and any new possible school would not open until September 2014.”

Stephen Larder, spokesman for the Ixworth and Stanton Free School Group, said this demonstrated even more the demand for a free school at Ixworth.

“It’s now down to parents to choose which route is more appropriate for them,” he said.

Rachel Gooch, co-ordinator of the Thurston Partnership, said the proposed Church free school would be developed to fit in with the partnership’s work on the re-organisation.

She added that parents had said they wanted the continuation of Church education.

“The Thurston Partnership just thinks this is a proposal they can work with,” she said.

She said, if the Church free school went through, there was the possibility the sixth form at Thurston Community College may move on to the Beyton Middle site.

Mr Larder said the Seckford bid was due to be submitted in December and, if successful, that school would open in 2014. Free schools receive their funding direct from the Government.

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