TEACHERS, parents and pupils took to the streets to march to save a top school from being axed.
Scores paraded through Bury St Edmunds town centre on Wednesday to protest at plans to close St Louis Catholic Middle as part of the Diocese of East Anglia’s switch to two tier education.
Earlier in the day more than 1,000 people flocked to St Edmundsbury Cathedral to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the school, which is expected to shut in 2013.
Wielding placards with slogans such as ‘don’t diddle our middle’ and ‘two tier on the cheap’, the march finished at West Suffolk House where letters of objection were handed to councillors.
Among the marchers was Year 8 teacher Mrs P Garrad, who said: “We thought this was the most appropriate time and we wanted to show our solidarity because we are all objecting to the proposal.”
Thomas Jones, who taught at St Louis for 34 years, said: “The school has a good atmosphere with excellent education of the children. This march is a way of stating the value placed upon the school. Something should be done to preserve those values and sense of identity.”
Parent and parishioner Tracey Wells added: “It’s to show we are supporting the teachers as we are going to lose them.” The Suffolk division of the National Union of Teachers has also opposed the proposal.
Meanwhile in a separate development, head Anne Mansfield was due to retire today following a 35 year teaching career. She explained: “I wanted to stay on until a decision about the future had been made and as it happened the process was delayed slightly but my husband has been retired for more than a year and the time has come.”
Under her leadership, St Louis was judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted inspectors, which she says was a highlight as well as this week’s anniversary celebrations. The school received a holistic blessing from the Pope to mark 40 years.
Mrs Mansfield added: “I’ve loved being at St Louis. There’s such a wonderful atmosphere. It’s the children, families, staff and the spirit of St Louis. It’s a wonderful place to work and the people stay because they want to be here. There’s the most tremendous St Louis team - the camaraderie, the friendship, the enthusiasm, it just carries on even in these difficult times.”
Deputy head Rose Heap will become acting head.