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U-turn on middle schools call

PUBLISHED: 10:25 02 December 2008 | UPDATED: 21:55 05 July 2010

EDUCATION chiefs have been urged to abandon plans to close Suffolk's 40 middle schools - and expand them instead.

Suffolk County Council wants to establish a uniform two-tier education system across the whole of the county, leading to the abolition of middle schools.

EDUCATION chiefs have been urged to abandon plans to close Suffolk's 40 middle schools - and expand them instead.

Suffolk County Council wants to establish a uniform two-tier education system across the whole of the county, leading to the abolition of middle schools. It claims a two-tier system would improve educational standards because, under the three-tier model, children leave junior school halfway through the Key Stage Two phase (for seven to 11-year-olds) and leave middle school halfway through Key Stage Three (11 to 14-year-olds).

But last night the campaign group Save Suffolk Middle Schools (SSMS) called on the county council to scrap its abolition plans - which forms part of the School Organisation Review (SOR) - and expand middle schools to tie in with the current Key Stage arrangements.

A spokesman for the group said: “This organisation remains unshakably of the opinion that the current three-tier system of education in this part of Suffolk is performing well, and is in the best interests of all our children.

“However, if the county council is hell-bent on change for its own sake, a more logical step would be to expand middle schools to include year nine pupils.”

He said the group's suggestion would mean the whole of Key Stage Three would be taught within middle school.

He explained this meant it would not need expensive retraining for staff, it would negate the need for expensive rebuilding work and would mean fewer children would have to make long distance journeys to school.

A spokesman for the county council said it would not rule out any suggestions while consultation over its proposals was active.

He said: “We welcome all contributions to our consultation on the SOR, this phase of the consultation finishes on December 15.

“Along with other proposals and comments, this one will be considered carefully. The council's cabinet meeting in February 2009 will then review what has been said during the consultation and consider its next steps.

“This, along with other submissions will be considered in the light of two principles established by the council for the future of Suffolk schools agreed in March 2007.

“One principle is that any future schools organisation must reduce the number of times that pupils transfer between schools. A second key principle is that children should learn at each Key Stage in one school, rather than have to change schools during that Key Stage of learning. It is not clear that this proposal from SSMS meets those principles.”

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