Council urged to make final decision to back two-tier schooling in Bury St Edmunds area

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Newsdesk: 01284 757857 ANL-140206-145723001

A controversial move to two-tier schooling in the Bury St Edmunds area is due to be officially rubber-stamped by leading councillors next week.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet is being asked to approve the shake-up which would see four middle schools close, 16 primary and upper schools take on extra year groups and a new secondary academy built on Moreton Hall in 2016.

It follows the publication of statutory notices over the £23 million move which saw three petitions submitted to the authority.

The plans are supported by the Bury Schools Partnership however the break-away Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust which includes County Upper, Horringer Court Middle, Westley Middle and Barrow Primary have opted for an all-through model of education.

A question mark still hangs over the future of Tollgate Primary and Howard Middle School which have withdrawn from the schools partnership in favour of working with the Bury Academy Trust.

Tollgate Primary is the subject of an academy order to join the trust and officials for the Department for Education have advised Suffolk County Council to continue to press ahead with two-tier proposals for Tollgate.

In papers published today Joy Stodart, Project Lead for School Organisation, said: “If the Secretary of State agrees academy status for Tollgate Primary as a 4-9 school his decision would set the school’s age range and overtake the council’s statutory proposal for the school.”

She added: “Reorganisation of the remaining schools affected by the statutory notices is not dependent upon Tollgate becoming a 4-11 primary school although this would be the council’s preferred position.”

On the future of Howard Middle School she noted that if the school applied to become an academy and was successful the relocation of Howard Primary to the middle school site could not take place.

She said; “This would mean that the local authority could not implement the proposal as published.

“Under the new regulations, either the LA or the governing body could publish a new proposal to raise the upper age limit of the school by two years.

“The county council has earmarked funds to support the relocation of Howard Primary.

“These were agreed by the council in January 2014 as part of the capital programme.

“These would be used to provide the necessary additional accommodation on its existing site if the school is unable to move.”

The cabinet will meet on Tuesday June 10.