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Plea for new school

PUBLISHED: 13:45 03 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:30 11 May 2010

A LAST-ditch call for a new secondary school to be built in Suffolk will be made today - just hours before education chiefs meet to discuss the closure of 12 middle schools.

A LAST-ditch call for a new secondary school to be built in Suffolk will be made today - just hours before education chiefs meet to discuss the closure of 12 middle schools.

Suffolk County Council's cabinet will tomorrow consider a set of recommendations for schools in Haverhill and Lowestoft drawn up as part of the council's school organisation review.

The review seeks to introduce a single two-tier education system across the county.

After learning their middle school was under threat, parents of children in Clare and surrounding villages proposed the setting up of a new secondary school on the existing Clare Middle School site.

Although the idea was considered by county council education officers it was now taken forward and children in the Clare area now face having to travel either to Sudbury or to the upper schools in Haverhill for their education.

Jim Miekle, of campaign group Clare and Local Area for Rural Education (CLARE), called on cabinet members to reject the current recommendations and to back parents in calling for the new secondary school option instead.

The CLARE group has been backed by South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo who has vowed to fight for a new school until the “bitter end”.

Patricia O'Brien, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services, said: “The options for schools in the Haverhill area were given very careful consideration, taking into account all the views gathered during the consultation, the educational argument, and assessing against the principles of the school organisation review and the Secretary of State's guidance for each of the 21 schools.

“Following this comprehensive assessment, the case for option one (travelling to Haverhill and Sudbury) was much stronger than for the other two options (such as building a new school).”

Mrs O'Brien has been supported by West Suffolk MP Richard Spring who said the recommendations were a “tremendous endorsement” of the two upper schools in Haverhill.

If the recommendations are approved by cabinet tomorrow closure notices will be published for Castle Hill, Chalkstone, Clare and Parkway middle schools in the Haverhill area, and Lothingland, Foxborough, Harris, Roman Hill, Kirkley, Pakefield, Elm Tree and Gisleham middle schools in the Lowestoft area.

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