Plans approved to scrap middle schools

PLANS to scrap middle schools in Suffolk in favour of a two-tier primary and secondary system have been given the final approval they need to go ahead.

PLANS to scrap middle schools in Suffolk in favour of a two-tier primary and secondary system have been given the final approval they need to go ahead.

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator has published its decision on Suffolk County Council's proposals for a reorganisation of schools in the Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth, Leiston, Saxmundham, Mildenhall, Brandon and Newmarket areas.

In a statement, it said that adjudicator Alan Parker had given careful consideration to the proposals and was persuaded that changing from a three-tier system to a two-tier system 'would be likely to help improve the quality of education and represent good value for money'.

The statement acknowledged that there was 'significant opposition' to the closure of some of the middle schools, but added that despite its strength and sincerity, much of it was 'based on considerations that were peripheral to the main educational and resource considerations that were the main drivers for change'.

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But he said that important issues had been raised, including the community's use of the facilities, and the need for better transport in certain areas. He said: 'These legitimate concerns of local people needed to be addressed and suitable solutions found. So, whilst he accepted that some well loved institutions would have to close, those remaining would still have a responsibility for the communities they serve and should actively consider how they would discharge those responsibilities.'

Graham Newman, county council portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services said: 'The schools adjudicator has thoroughly tested the proposals for schools in these areas and believes they will help to raise levels of achievement for young people.

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'We will plan carefully with the schools to ensure adequate preparation has taken place to make the transition as smooth as possible.'

Twelve weeks of public consultation on options for the schools was carried out between September and December 2008. The changes will see primary schools expand to accommodate children up to the age of 11 with secondary schools taking youngsters from age 11. Middle schools in the area will close at the end of the 2012 summer term. The county council said that letters are being sent out to parents to keep them informed.

Earlier this year the adjudicator backed the county council's proposals to reorganise schooling in Lowestoft and a public consultation is currently underway regarding schools in Great Cornard and Sudbury.

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