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New Pakefield high school is 'the best'

PUBLISHED: 06:45 12 November 2010 | UPDATED: 11:35 12 November 2010

PARENTS in Lowestoft were this week assured that the town’s newest high school would offer outstanding facilities and provide “the best possible education” for their children.

Plans for the controversial new high school at Pakefield were approved by Suffolk county councillors last month despite fierce local objections, following concerns over potential traffic problems, a lack of recreational space for pupils, and claims that many children will face an unsafe journey to school.

The county council has also admitted that it has only secured funding for phase one of the three-phase project to develop the school on the site of Pakefield Middle School, and the scheme is yet to be rubber-stamped by the Department for Education because Sport England, a government body, has lodged an official objection over a reduction in the site’s playing field space.

But this week, in a letter to the Journal, the new school’s board of governors seeks to reassure parents that they are doing all they can to ensure that pupils are properly catered for.

Michael Cole, chairman of governors, says: “In our first year we have worked very closely with Suffolk County Council to ensure that the new building will provide outstanding facilities... These, combined with the enthusiastic, caring, high quality staff we have already recruited and will continue to appoint over the next school term, ensure that we will be on target to deliver the best possible education for our new intake.”

Mr Cole admits that he and his fellow governors are “disappointed” that the school will not have all of its facilities available when it opens in September next year. But he adds: “The head and his team have been working extremely hard to ensure this will have minimal impact on these pupils.”

The governors’ letter follows widespread criticism of Suffolk County County Council’s decision to press head with plans for the new high school, which is a key part of the authority’s controversial School Organisation Review (SOR). Under the changes, education in Lowestoft will move from three tiers to two from next September, with all of the town’s middle schools closing in July and all pupils in future attending primary or high schools.

Meanwhile, Waveney MP Peter Aldous has pledged to take up the case of parents at Kessingland who claim that their children face an unsafe journey to the new high school along part of the busy A12.

Mr Aldous will be joining families tomorrow to take a look at the route himself.

He told the Journal: “I respect the county council’s decision to go ahead with the new high school at Pakefield but the number one priority now is the safety of children attending the school.

“I will be doing everything in my power to ensure that the route to the school is safe for children.”

Mr Aldous will be walking along the proposed route with parents from Kessingland.

One parent, Martin Symonds, has produced his own risk assessment of the route which he will present to Mr Aldous and the county council.

“Something has to be done as the route fails to meet safety guidelines as the narrow path is also a two-way cycle track,” Mr Symonds said. “The path is also next to the main A12 with all its traffic and is not safe for children as young as 11 years old”

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