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'Fruitless' talks on school plan

PUBLISHED: 12:33 26 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:22 05 July 2010

MORE than 100 parents attended what was dismissed as a "fruitless" meeting at Pakefield Middle School this week to discuss a planned new high school.

As part of Suffolk's review to turn Lowestoft into a two-tier schools system, a plan is in the pipeline to open a secondary school on the existing middle school site in Kilbourn Road.

MORE than 100 parents attended what was dismissed as a “fruitless” meeting at Pakefield Middle School this week to discuss a planned new high school.

As part of Suffolk's review to turn Lowestoft into a two-tier schools system, a plan is in the pipeline to open a secondary school on the existing middle school site in Kilbourn Road.

But Malcolm Gibbs, parent governor and representative for Lowestoft's Parent Against Change group, said he did not receive any more information during the visit from county council representatives than he already knew. He was also horrified with news that parents might have to reapply for their children to attend the school.

“The meeting got quite heated. It was another one of these meetings where nothing was said. It was completely fruitless,” he said. “A lot of residents from Lansdowne Road and Kilbourn Road were there and wanted to know if a new access road would be built, but they couldn't answer. It was a complete and utter farce.”

Mark Cresswell, head at Pakefield Middle, said the pupil admission number for each year group in the proposed new school would be 180, yet between his school and Gisleham Middle 260 pupils were already sent to high school. He said: “The admission criteria for the new school will be that the child lives in the catchment area and it is the preferred school, but we have a lot of children out of catchment who will end up being the second preference.

“That means a lot of out-of-catchment children at Pakefield Middle School in years five/six will not progress to years eight and nine at the high school. This is something that really needs bringing home to parents.

“Some of Gisleham's children in catchment will actually live further away from the school than children at my school that are out of catchment.”

So far there has only been one bid to run the new high school: by the Lowestoft Learning Trust, which encompasses the three existing high schools, Lowestoft College and other partners. But Mr Cresswell said he could see flaws within the plans.

A county council spokesman said the meeting was organised by Deloitte for the Department for Children, Schools and Families to share the plans with local people.

“The Suffolk county admission criteria apply to all high schools in Suffolk. For pupils in the Pakefield and Gisleham Middle catchment areas, the catchment high school will be the new high school, with the site at the current middle school. Details regarding the new high school will be developed once the schools adjudicator has decided the outcome of the competition.” the spokesman added.

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